Spotlight on Kamran Awan
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Background into Kamran and iOB Business
I’ve always been interested in operating my own business. I’m grateful every single day that I’ve been able to live my childhood aspiration and truly do something that I love. It’s true what they say, it’s not work when you find something you are passionate about and you build a career and income from it.
It wasn’t all plain sailing and like a lot of entrepreneurs, I had to build towards my dream of running a business by working a day job, experiencing different sectors, sacrificing leisure activities and dedicating myself to building my business. After all, if being in business was easy, everyone would do it. It takes a certain type of person to be a business owner but from a personal perspective, I simply couldn’t imagine working for someone else for the entirety of my working life.
I’m proud to be the Co-Founder of iOB Business, a technology business based in Leicester, UK. Operating similarly to a franchisor, we help people launch and grow a Digital Agency so they can assist any local business to improve their online presence. We combine our unique technology platforms with branding, live training, lifetime support and resources so our partners can start generating revenue from day one.
With no experience required, our package is designed to help our partners work with local businesses and help them engage their customers through their website, on search engines, via social media and on review sites to name just a few. With all types of businesses facing unique challenges in the current climate, our partners are well-placed to deliver vital solutions to their clients.
The big idea
Having worked in digital marketing and franchising for the last 10 years, I was fortunate to meet lots of talented people and make lifelong friends. One such example is a good friend of mine, James Mohamed, who is also a Co-Founder of iOB Business.
We understood the challenges faced by many small businesses when it came to promoting their products or services online. Large businesses typically leverage resources such as their employees, IT systems and vast budgets to dominate online.
On the flip side, for an independent restaurant, nightclub or gym owner, trying to navigate technology and digital marketing can seem overwhelming. This is where we wanted to level the playing field and give local businesses a chance to compete by having access to a range of technology solutions that are simple to use for every type of business.
With my background in franchising, it seemed like the most logical step to rolling out our vision for helping local businesses through our partner network. The last 3 years have been interesting as we have developed our technology platforms in-house, created the infrastructure for new partners to utilise when they join our network and then set about the task of building and supporting our partners Digital Agencies.
Biggest challenge during your career
The biggest setback during my career happened about 10 years ago but upon reflection, it was a real blessing. Although I’ve always had a zest for business, I actually followed the path that most people take. I graduated from Loughborough University and went on to work for some of the biggest accountancy firms in the world.
However, after a few years of working for different companies and having a corporate lifestyle, I was driving home one evening and I just felt empty. Although I was in a good job and earning quite well, I just felt something was missing and I was living for the weekend instead of doing something I truly enjoyed.
It is at that point that I decided to switch careers and do something that would make me happy but also realise my goal of running my own business. The thought of starting an accountancy practice seemed unattractive so I spent the next few months researching and then managed to secure a new role in the technology sector with a franchise opportunity.
The challenge came in pivoting from a professional career where I was dealing with numbers to entering into a totally new environment that required me to learn new skills. I was thrown in at the deep end and it was either sink or swim. I found myself gaining valuable experience across a range of different disciplines such as sales, marketing, support and technology. This really helped me learn the essential foundations that I have deployed into the very fabric of iOB Business.
Looking back now, I actually view that transitional phase as a key milestone in helping me arrive at my destination today. If I had just settled for the well-paid job and safety of a corporate role, I wouldn’t be in the fortunate position I’m in today as a business owner that is helping empower entrepreneurs to scale their businesses with us all over the world.
In my opinion, the key to overcoming any setback or hurdle is to remain calm and focus on the bigger picture. In the heat of the moment, any setback can appear to be the end of the world, especially if things don’t go as we planned.
By taking a step back you can often turn the setback into a positive thought. For example, scanning LinkedIn over the last few months, I’ve seen lots of people sadly lose their jobs because of the pandemic. However, it’s been refreshing to see how so many people have used the situation to reset and use the opportunity to develop new skills or even new businesses that allow them to progress forward.
From my personal perspective, I overcame my setbacks by creating some objectives for what I wanted to achieve over the next 5-10 years. I then decided on a set of actions that would gradually help me achieve those objectives over time. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so you really need to focus on taking thing’s day by day but ensuring that you work towards achieving your long term aspiration that is unique for all of us.
What is an important initiative that you feel passionate about in your role?
Empowerment and training are something that I’m really passionate about and thankfully iOB Business is the perfect avenue to channel those passions. Having transitioned from being an employee to a business owner, I truly understand the challenges that many people face when making that change.
I remember the first day I sat at my desk as a business owner and thought to myself, “Okay, what now?”. When you are an employee, you have a set of tasks or responsibilities and a manager that you are accountable to. There is a lot more structure in employment with very little flexibility or creative input in most cases. You simply do the job you are paid to do in the way you are supposed to do it.
I get immense satisfaction from helping our partners evolve from their current roles into modern-day business owners. As a company, we place a great deal of emphasis on developing our partners and equipping them with transferable skills that they can deploy in all parts of their Digital Agencies.
Biggest lesson you’ve learnt along the way
I’ve come to accept that things don’t always work out how you planned and everything happens when the time is right. Often, we are conditioned to follow a structured path and achieve milestones at certain stages of our lives.
However, life is unpredictable and it’s never too late to follow your passion or dreams. I’ve personally seen how things change as you get older but with the right drive and motivation, anyone can achieve success.
Tips you would give to those starting their careers
I would say firstly keep an open mind and view every role or decision as a learning exercise. Putting yourself in different environments and gaining experience in a variety of sectors will ultimately help you find a path that is right for you.
Secondly, I would say focus your time on developing your skills. Investing in yourself, whether that is completing a course or reading a new book, can help you acquire a range of skills that you can deploy in future roles or businesses.
The final tip I would give someone starting their career is to have fun. We spend over 35 hours per week at work, whether that is working for someone else or working for ourselves. Therefore, it’s important to have fun and enjoy the journey. Meeting new people and taking in different experiences will ultimately lead to a fulfilling professional life.
What’s the best part of your job?
It’s hard to narrow it down to just one thing. Personally, I really enjoy the sense of accomplishment when I help our partners grow their Digital Agencies with us. Seeing people develop, learn new skills and ultimately succeed in business makes all the hard work and sacrifices worth it in the end.
Alongside that, I enjoy the flexibility of being my own boss. Having the ability to work from home or the office, take a day off when I need it or just having variety in my role are all aspects that are only available because I’m operating my own business.
What’s the worst part of your job?
I think not being able to truly switch off is the hardest part of being a business owner. When you are an employee, you can almost forget about work when you finish at 5 PM. In contrast, as a business owner, I always find that I’m thinking about new ways to improve or develop the business. I’ve learned to unwind by limiting the number of times I check my emails in the evenings or weekends but even still, you never quite switch off fully.
The analogy I like to give is being a business owner is like being a parent. Even when your child grows up and is independent, as a parent you’ll still always worry about them. It’s the same with your own business, you might be away from the office or on holiday, but the business’s wellbeing is still on your mind.
The future looks really bright for us right now with iOB Business. Although we are all evolving with the current situation, I’m grateful that we’re actually operating in the technology and marketing sector, which will always be in demand.
I read an article recently that found the average adult is now spending over 5 hours per day online. Therefore, it’s crucial that all types of businesses improve their online presence in order to stay relevant.
What would you say to your teenage self?
I would say have fun and enjoy the journey. When you are younger, sometimes you can be a little impatient and expect results or success straight away. However, life is an adventure so I would say to be patient and recognise that learning new skills should be your immediate priority.
Forget trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life when you’re a teenager as you will go through a number of phases or experiences before you truly understand what you want to do. Therefore, I would say keep an open mind and explore before you settle down.