Secrets of Successful Freelancing Shared By A Medical Student - Uzair Ikram [ Magnate meets Medicine ]
By Haania Khan
This is a success story , when we think of one, we expect it be the cliched waking up to the face of the earth in a slum-based setting, realizing that fate has been inequitable and put you in the wrong place, that life is full of starving and demoralizing, intimidating days and in order to reach a certain level of living you would have to struggle day in and day out, and work till you are wrinkled to your bones, and then maybe fate finally lets you have it. Uzair breaks that stereotype.
Born into a business family with a silver spoon in his mouth , 11As in O levels, Ravian, life was smooth already, when one day, during post-MCAT-respites, he found his life’s direction; a young Pakistani freelancer had earned some $200 by working online. Uzair looked it up, searched online and found his way to Elance. Some casual hit and score trials later, he realized that the concept was no scam and that translating jobs were high in demand, money started coming in and his interest expanded, ideas grew and opportunities came up.
To this day, 4 years since it all started, at the age of 23, Uzair owns a company that has over 50 employees from all over the world, that has completed and satisfied over 1400 projects with excellent reviews and is at the top of the translating business above 348,000 contractors on Elance, when most of them beat him in experience and expertise.
Finding clients, making bids, getting jobs, and getting them done, is absolute-hard-core work. It needs a lot of determination, perseverance, business intellect and a major priority shift. No “ba-asani” accomplished journey, he is where he stands, through of course Allah’s special blessings and after travelling a hard earned, well strived route where he has often worked 22 hours nonstop on days, when work had just started to take a success-realizable form.
What is free lancing?
It is to offer services online on different platforms. Elance is a platform. Where people from all over the world, post jobs in different categories. Contractors make bids and then it is up to the client to choose the contractor, and then there is a job. There are other sites “odesk”, “freelancer.com”, “guru.com”, etc
What do you do?
I am running 24/7 Universal Translation Studio.
We provide services in all languages, be it German, French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Danish, Norwegian, Finish, Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic, every language out there. The company has hired certified native translators for each language; they translate websites, applications, legal documents, product descriptions like those on E-bay and Amazon. We also provide transcription and voice-over services. All of the translation is done manually and no software is used.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UniversalTranslationStudio
It is a virtual company, because it is not possible to seat translators from all over the world in the same space. Clients look for job histories and reviews and whether if the translating person ale are certified, and then give their feedback. We are at the top in everything Alhamdulillah.
What implication does your company’s service have?If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.- Nelson Mandela
Only 25.5% of the online population speaks English, and if you launch a business and you want the world to know about it, you are unable to market it to 75% of the world’s clients because you don’t speak in a language they do.
Translation breaks that barrier and builds a bridge; it boosts a company, increases its sales, and improves its rankings.
What has been your motivation? How did it happen?
Everyone in my family is running a business. I have 3 brothers; all of them are in this field. It is all that’s talked about at my house, like for many of you medicine is that dinner-table subject, for me it has always been “business”. My father and brothers were my motivation.
In any business it is just an “idea that clicks”.
My company was on top on Elance , then I stopped bidding during profs, now I am probably fourth or fifth. I am working to get on top again. When I was no 1, there is a competitor company, which was formerly on top, the CEO left me a message, that there were lot of companies out there who could have ranked no 1 in this category but only you were able to do, congratulations!. That was an honor.
What were you like before your business? Did you want to be a doctor?
I used to be nerdy. I had 11As in O levels. I would study every day after school, that has changed now.
It was my parent’s wish. I had always had good grades at school, and I found biology interesting, so I went with the flow and took up Pre-Med at Government College, then Alhamdulillah I got admission into K.E.
How did you manage it then, and now?
In 2011, I used to work all day, 22 hours at times, even when I got a profit of just a dollar, I kept working because I needed to make a profile. The number of your projects and the client’s feedback is visible on your profile. I used to work all day for at least 8 months, but during profs I could only study and had to put down work. I was in 3rd year when I realized that it was impossible for me to keep the two things up and running, I involved my elder brother. We would divide the work, since then he and his wife are working with me, he handles it completely during my exams. On regular days I bid on projects and he handles getting the work done and dealing with the clients.
Your parents must be so proud?
They are proud of the fact that I am working. They tell everybody they meet about me and then ask me to guide others. They are supportive, but they feel that studies are more important, and becoming a doctor should be my no 1 priority.
You are in a successful place already, are you going to keep up with medicine?
Everybody tells me that; I should be focusing on my work, and that I already have a business and a set up and I should work on advancing it. The reason I came into medicine was my parents and then, if I had wanted to be anything, it was to be a surgeon. I am confused now. I have been told that there is no point in going on with medicine and it is agreeable to an extent, life is tough for a doctor, electives-USMLE-residency-fellowship, almost 9-10 years of untainted struggle and then “may be” you could call yourself established.
If I would have to keep both things going, I may build a hospital and have my company’s office in the same building. It is just an idea. If I am asked to make a choice right now, free lancing, period.
What advice would you give to medical students?
Do your studies don’t get involved in business because then you would not want to study and also there is little support from your family when you are an undergrad, once you start working and money starts coming in, then there is no going back, it is addicting.
What are some of the important companies you have worked with?
It is due to Elance that I have worked with companies that people with businesses, dream of.
Johnson n Johnson, Hotspot shield-Anchorfree, RDX (Amir Khan (boxer) is their brand ambassador) it is the only Pakistani company that I am working with. Boston-consulting group, Elance itself, Venus concepts-Venus treatments.com and other translation companies like ccgk.com, green translations.com, simplytranslate.annal. There is a long list of clients. Recently I started working with Dr.Najeeb, we are transcribing his videos with subtitles, then its going to be translated into different languages.
What would you tell students that are interested in starting their own business?
When somebody has to start they have to give it their all, I know too many people who made impressive profiles, but could not manage the time to work on their jobs.
If you have a talent you should cash it.People work for societies and write great articles and make remarkable videos but these societies are not going to give you anything in return. Make a profile and work. Money would be slow but at least it will come and your profile will build up.
Awareness is the issue.
Everything online is believed to be a scam generally. People do not buy things online and so would not work online. They don’t know of websites where they can work. Also Pakistanis do not make better profiles, for example, for jobs worth 20$ they would be demanding 500$, this sends out a “twisted” image to the clients. Also the proposals usually contain informal English, even the “I”s are not capitalized. Then there is a beggar population; “I am a student!”, “I desperately need this job!”, “I really need to pay my college dues!,” etc, all this conveys their lack of professionalism and so they don’t attract clients.
Do we need proper career counseling in Pakistan?
Parents always have a role, in Pakistan if you are intelligent you are expected to grow up to be a doctor or an engineer and I think that’s where the “kharabi” starts.
Kids never get to explore their abilities, be it family pressure or peer pressure they are pushed into these professions. There is a variety of job opportunities available. I am # 12 on top 25 young professionals of Pakistan, the others have such incredible ideas and are doing so much. Elance offers jobs to everybody and you can work for big companies. Writing, editing pictures, designing logos for companies, there are jobs available for everyone.
Are your friends intimidated by all your success?
I make it a point that I am not someone who flies his own kite. My friends know little details about what I do and how much I earn. Pretentiousness is insignificant and it makes you a smaller person.
Uzair’s story describes how proper work ethics, determination, diligence and being able to do what you are passionate about, can take you towards great attainments. It is in fact proof, that anyone can be a freelancer, with enough hard work, commitment and strategy. He is not the only one making the most of his talents, techjuice.pk published an article,” Pakistan’s 25 high achievers under 25 years of age”, Uzair Ikram was included in the list along with 24 other exuberantly talented young people who are doing nothing else but what they love to do. So next time when you are killing time watching your favorite seasons for the umpteenth time, know that in a parallel world, Uzair is working. He is bidding and making offers, answering phone calls and inquiring about work details and receiving payments, he is doing what he is absolutely passionate about. You can too, because: