Key Findings

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  • In the vast majority of cases, business acumen accumulated through experience has been passed down from generation to generation, with fathers and uncles being cited as sources of knowledge.
  • The value of basic record-keeping as a tool for tracking revenues, expenses, inventory levels and profits is not appreciated by many business owners, particularly those who left schooling well before matriculation in order to learn their trade.
  • Few owners bother formulating strategic plans for the future. They are mostly locked in survival mode and do not see the point in thinking about expansion when they have no savings to back them up.
  • The vast majority of business owners are vehemently opposed to the idea of securing loans to facilitate expansion since they consider interest to be ‘Haraam’/forbidden by Islam.
  • Rather than opening up a unique business and providing goods not previously available or in short supply in a given area (as traditional marketing experts would advocate), several owners have chosen instead to set up shop in areas which were already saturated, without even making an effort to differentiate their offerings from those of existing vendors.
  • The high incidence of business closures within a year of setting up shop suggests that several small-scale entrepreneurs fail to recognize that businesses often make losses in the first two to three years of operation before turning into profitable ventures and suffer due to lack of a back-up plan.
  • The non-availability of proper parking was cited by business owners in both developing commercial areas like Muslim and Bukhari commercial in Defence and developed markets like Punjab Colony and Saddar.
  • Factors like convenience and proximity to residence sometimes play a greater role in choice of location for a new enterprise rather than systematic research relating to existing competitors, comparison of rent in different areas, customer traffic, access to markets etc.
  • A few successful models of partnership were discovered whereby loosely-related businesses or people belonging to unrelated occupations (such as chicken and vegetable vendors; electricians and mechanics) are occupying one shop and splitting the rent to cut costs.
  • Some markets which were previously thriving now give a deserted look owing to changes in the urban landscape. The most obvious case in point is Clifton Block II, whose commercial setups are continuing to witness a drastic fall in traffic with emergence of ever-increasing security barriers in the proximity of Bilawal house.
  • The lure of Karachi as a big city which holds the promise of better prospects in terms of livelihood and lifestyle continues to attract migrants from all over the country. Participants in the survey hailed from a diverse array of cities, including Lahore, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Quetta, Bajaur Agency, Kohat, Azad Kashmir, Bahawalpur, and various other regions of interior Sindh.