Ali Rasoul: my life lessons for success
A 21-year-old creative entrepreneur is hoping to inspire others to find their own success stories, based on lessons he has learned in his meteoric career to date.
Ali Rasoul his own business at the age of 18, and now runs a creative design, marketing and filmmaking agency, including work with some of the biggest names and creative brands in the cinema and music industries.
Ali has put together a reflection on his own journey to success, in the hope of inspiring the next generation. Here, in his own words, he outlines ways to improve your own opportunities.
Valuing yourself: lessons I learned on my rise to success
To all the 20-something creative entrepreneurs out there who are holding themselves back over the notion that your worth is commensurate with your age, it’s time to stop buying into the hype and start creating a plan for success.
I, like many other Londoners, was taught to define myself by the grades I received in school. This sets the narrative for the rest of your life if you subscribe to the 20th century notion that in order to succeed you must attend a top university, land a prestigious internship, and eventually, begin working for someone else until you have enough experience to apply for the job you really want.
Unlike the generations that came before us, Gen Z has limitless information at their fingertips 24/7, 365 days a year. There has never been a better time to take the reins of destiny into your own hands and create the career you want, when you want it. By believing in yourself, letting go of the fear of rejection, and applying a business mindset to your creative passion, you too can become your own boss by the time you graduate university.
Here are a few lessons I learned along the way from starting my own business at just 18 years old, to working with some of the top names in the entertainment industry such as Spike Lee and Jordan Peele.
Your network is your net worth
In 2017, I attended a three-week program with the British Film Institute where I learned, among other things, the value of networking and how relatively invaluable my formal education would be to my career. Moreover, it led me to explore ways to transform my creative toolkit from one that served individual musicians and artists to one that could create an emotional connection between a product or service and the consumer in any industry.
By changing my mindset from purely creative to more business centered, I was able to scale my rate from £150 per project to commissioning £25,000 per project.
While you are working to build your creative portfolio, equally as important is to begin building contact lists and networking in the industries you want to be working in. A simple search of a company’s website or a phone call will give you what you need for the important second step, cold emailing.
Mastering the art of the cold email
Cold emails are an uncomfortable but necessary action to start and grow your business. There are a few simple techniques I found to be more effective than others, including personalizing each email to acknowledge the recipients name and complimenting an area of interest in their organisation. Avoid including links or attachments at first, as it is more likely that the email will end up in the junk folder.
More importantly, remember to end with a call-to-action, building a sense of accountability for receivers to get back to you. I began by sending 15 emails per day, every day, and adhering to a strict follow-up routine.
The acknowledgment rate began to pick up and, after two weeks, I had my first meetings with luxury hotel brands Coya Mayfair, Corinthia Hotel, and the H Club.
Change your mindset
Meeting with high-profile marketing departments required me to adapt my mindset from a creative to more business-oriented. As creatives, it can be difficult at times to tone-down our creativity to fit a more corporate appeal but just remember, it’s about bringing the client’s vision to life. You must learn to adapt to their world while attaching an influence of yours to form a perfect balance and land those career-defining projects.
Knowing your worth and pricing accordingly
The key to achieving this success was simply to believe in my worth and ask for nothing less. Having a strong creative portfolio has been the primary reason for my speedy entrance to corporate industries. Building this portfolio didn’t happen overnight, and it is necessary to sometimes work for free when the opportunity could hold more value for you down the road.
The ability to estimate how to commission clients is something I discovered throughout the process, moreover, identifying that each industry holds unique values, and adjusting to their conventional methods and making an appropriate judgment.
Maneuvering personalities and distinguishing when to charge and who to charge could determine the success of a long-term relationship that opens doors to bigger opportunities.
Believe in yourself
To all emerging creative entrepreneurs, there are a few points you should absolutely note down when starting out. First, don’t allow any current circumstances to put a cap on the goals you’re aspiring to reach. Whether that be a global pandemic, your education, or what others tell you. Believe that if you visualize it, you can accomplish it.
Second, heavily invest in developing your craft and be eager to work for free as you start out.
Third, having discipline and the occasional self-sacrifice to keep advancing will get you to higher heights.
Finally, discover your self-love journey and never stop encouraging yourself to keep learning and growing.
Find out more at www.alirasoul.co.uk/wesharevalue