22 Sep 2020
Business wisdom by Irish-Pakistani entrepreneur Hasan Saleem
In the late 90s, Hasan Saleem was a kid in Pakistan, tinkering with second-hand computers and fascinated with the Internet.
Today, he runs DSS Media, one of Ireland's premier digital marketing agencies.
Saleem's road to digital success was long, winding, and full of challenges to overcome. But he did eventually overcome them.
Here's the time-tested business wisdom he learned along the way.
Pursuing fascination to overcome adversity
Saleem's path to digital success started during the 1990s in Gujranwala, Pakistan.
After his father's death, Saleem's mother started tutoring to support the family.
Unfortunately, opportunities in digital education were sparse. But, when Saleem was gifted a computer by his uncle, he found a new passion.
With curiosity and perseverance, he gathered information and equipment and taught himself domain hosting, web marketing and development.
In today's world, self-education is crucial for everyone
Saleem simultaneously pursued his passion for web development and marketing, while completing his MBA at the University of Central Punjab.
Saleem's first business began when he took web development projects, worth $5 per job.
Inspired by one of his teachers, a former marketing guru in his 60s who had returned from the United States, Saleem aimed to build his own business after graduation.
Looking for alternative niches and business opportunities
Saleem learned that business opportunities can arise anywhere and anytime.
Leaving his $5 website fixing jobs, Saleem found bigger opportunities while he was in the university.
He began working in affiliate marketing for Template Monster, a digital design marketplace. Soon, Saleem became their top affiliate, and generated over $1mn in sales.
Simultaneously, he built websites for clients from various industries, at a good price.
Business ventures and personal development
Instead of spending his earnings, Saleem reinvested in his own diverse business ventures and personal development.
In 2007, he founded DirJournal, a web directory that competed with companies like DMOZ, Yahoo Directory, and Business.com.
DirJournal is still thriving in 2020, with over 40,000 active clients, thousands of articles, and over 500 affiliates.
He gathered and marketed invaluable experience to clients, becoming a consultant.
Discovering the industry and expanding horizons
The more he discovered as a new entrepreneur, the more Saleem wanted to learn.
So, he went international after moving some of his operations to Ireland, where the business continued to flourish.
Saleem also visited Pubcon, an annual landmark conference on new trends in social media, digital marketing, and online advertising.
There, he learned how to forge connections for more exposure.
Learning to identify and harness trends
Knowing that being at cutting-edge of technology is essential in digital marketing, Saleem identifies latest trends, and harnesses them for his business.
He even started online publications like PakWired, Gadget Advisor, and SocialImplications.com to help others do the same.
An expert in SEO, Google Analytics, and Facebook Ads, Saleem is also a guest writer for Dawn, YourStory, The Good Men Project and other publications.
Giving back to the society
Saleem has learned that to avoid frustration in the chase for your goals, helping others is important.
He regularly organizes donation drives and raises funds for the US-Pakistani charity CDRS which provides essentials like food and clean water, and is dedicated to building infrastructure such as schools.
- Hasan Saleem