Today I want to take you through the realities of owning a business that targets Muslim audiences. In order to validate what I am communicating, I will be quoting three business owners who I had the pleasure of interviewing around March 2020.
1) Having the Right Motivation and Intention
If you are starting out on your journey, you must make sure that you have the right intentions. Do not just go after Muslim audiences because you read somewhere that the Muslim consumer market is booming.
Purify your intentions and renew them so that you offer your services for the betterment of the Muslim ummah (community). The Muslim ummah, has so many needs and if you have the ability to fulfill those needs that mainstream businesses can’t, you will be doing something great. Better yet, you will be earning a living and getting Allah’s blessing at the same time.
My journey began over 10 years ago when I was overweight. I had tried too many diets that were just not working, and I was beginning to lose hope until I came across a nutrition program. Through this program, I was able to lose about 40 pounds Alhamdulillah.
Having lost the weight, I felt like a new person and began teaching my family all about what I had learned. Teaching my family gave me the confidence to begin teaching others and this soon became a hobby. My newfound hobby and passion for health and nutrition soon turned into a business venture which I am loving.Rushdi Ismail
2) There are Challenges to Building a Muslim Brand
You have embarked on the journey, there is no turning back now. But things are not going as smoothly as you expected. You are not making enough sales, the bills are piling up, and maybe the Islamic product that your research stated was in demand is not gaining any fans.
This is a normal scenario, understand that if you have made your research and due diligence plus executed properly, keep going and Allah, the one who gives sustenance makes the final decision to whether you succeed or fail.
Either way, if your intentions were pure, your efforts will be rewarded here or in the hereafter.
The challenges of business are never-ending. Once you hit one level of success suddenly there’s a much bigger challenge waiting for you. My challenges were the same as anyone else. I think these fall into internal ones such as doubts, fears, confidence, and then external ones such as money, time, family pressures, etc. I overcame them by having an overall vision of what I wanted and staying focussed on it no matter what. There was also a process of constant and never-ending improvement.Mohammad Arshad
3) Muslims May Choose Mainstream Brands Over Your Muslim Brand
It’s a fact that big mainstream brands are well established and have the trust of Muslim audiences way more than Muslim businesses that are new in the market. This is not to say that Muslims are not into Muslim brands. In fact, Muslims are so much more into their Muslim identity today that they are looking for brands that speak to their needs without stereotyping them.
Although mainstream brands have constantly disappointed Muslim audiences; Muslim business owners have not capitalized on this and won the hearts of the Muslim audiences.
I think the Muslim market has massive issues and opportunities. The market is less mature than others but this presents a unique opportunity to become a leader in any field…Mohammad Arshad
… it’s a tough place out there. You need to work hard to survive because it’s so competitive. Keep working hard and always seek help from Allah, because only he can give you true success.Rushdi Ismail
4) Marketing to Muslims is About Finding the Right Balance
It can be quite challenging trying to market to Muslims for the sole reason that Muslims are so diverse in culture and level of practice of the religion. This is why you need to be careful when communicating with Muslims through your marketing.
Muslims who live in Muslim countries can be quite conservative but there are those who are less so conservative. This is the same in western countries. What they all have in common is their exposure to mainstream brands.
So you need to find a balance between your approach towards your audience. Use all the mainstream tools and strategies that mainstream brands use as long as they are Halal but make sure that your brand’s Islamic identity is dominant.
… the strategies I proposed are similar to that of any audience, only that the content and tone would differ in our social media posts. I feel that Muslims now are open-minded and more mainstream, so design-wise, content-wise, well any that is modern and chic should be able to attract Muslims easily.Shasha Malik
5) You Will Have to Learn from Mistakes
We all make mistakes and running a business that focuses on a niche like the Muslim market makes us even more prone to making mistakes. So keep going back to the drawing board; work, analyze, and repeat.
Just make sure you are keeping your brand intent and personality alive when you make changes that correct your mistakes. And whatever you do, do not compromise your belief for a short cut to success.
I think one of the biggest lessons I have learned from entrepreneurship is FOCUS. The more you focus the stronger everything becomes. Your offering, your messaging, your capability, and everything else. This also applies to your marketing. It’s better to have one funnel that you perfect. One ad platform that you master. One product that you build.Mohammad Arshad
Essentially, best to learn our target audience first – their characteristics, behavior, etc. From then, we will know platforms to get on, what content to put up, what tone to use to connect to the audience, what design to attract the audience, etc.Shasha Malik
6) Through Challenges You Grow But Roadblocks Will Halt You
Challenges are aspects of the business that you can overcome through good planning and tenacity. Roadblocks are external factors that you cannot plan for and will cause difficulty when it comes to executing your plans.
The Muslim market is not as mature as others and so this means that your product or service is great but they’re just not ready for it yet. This is why solving a real problem is so important but sometimes even these need a real push to move the market to be ready for the solution.Mohammad Arshad
Most Muslim entrepreneurs are not supportive of each other, which is what is really halting the success of the Ummah. By supporting one another we can achieve way more than on our own.Rushdi Ismail
7) Serving Muslim Audiences Gets You Rewards Beyond the Monetary Kind
As mentioned earlier, with the right intention, you will get rewards from Allah for wanting to better the ummah. That is from within; from without, it will be all those people you helped who will pray for your success in this world and in the hereafter.
The blessing of Dua. Although I get paid for what I provide, the biggest blessing is the dua’s I receive from Muslims all around the world. I receive so many letters and emails from people around the globe telling me how I have impacted their lives and that is the most satisfying thing to hear. When a person does something for Allah’s sake, hoping only for his reward, then Allah will be the one to judge him, and indeed “actions are judged according to intentions”. [Sahih Bukhari]Rushdi Ismail
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