Don’t let opportunities in life pass you by


At a time when many people are losing their jobs and the rest are looking over their shoulders Hussan Ahktar explains why he has given up a senior engineering post with Jaguar Land Rover to go it alone.

People cannot make up their mind if I’m brave, misguided or both.

That is the natural reaction when I tell them that after 20 years as an engineer with Jaguar Land Rover I have given it all up to run a business selling security equipment to private hire taxi drivers.

Add into the pot that I am 47, have five children the youngest of whom is just three years old, that we are in the worst economic downturn since the 1930s and those who question my sanity have their suspicions confirmed.

So what drives people like me to take such a step into the dark?

For some it is a case of not having a choice. Many people set up their own enterprises out of forced measures because of compulsory redundancy and the difficulty getting another job leaves them with few options.

But for me I do not even have that excuse. The automotive business is going through a tough time and even prestigious marques like Jaguar and Land Rover are not immune.

My redundancy is entirely voluntary and whilst 20 years of service provides for a reasonable pay off there is no golden parachute. In short I probably have about a year to get my business paying its and my way.

I owe Jaguar Land Rover for where I am now for more ways than one. Two years ago a business trip took me to Spain and one day I hired a private hire cab and found myself sitting in the back of the car behind a security screen.

It was the kind of thing that is standard in a hackney cab but that I had never seen in a private hire vehicle. My engineering background set my mind working. This did not look like a one size fits all rig up but was purpose designed for the car and quality fitted.

I thought no more about it until a cousin of mine who drives a private hire taxi in Yorkshire was attacked. I went back to Spain with the intention of buying a screen for his vehicle.

The meeting with the manufacturers resulted in me being offered exclusive distribution rights for the screen in the United Kingdom and Southern Ireland.

Research showed me that there is a huge market in the UK with more than 250,000 private hire vehicles and that being a cabbie is a hazardous occupation with assaults from passengers almost regarded as an occupational hazard.

A driver is at his or her most vulnerable from rear seated passengers, almost in a flash things fell into place. Here was an opportunity that I had to take.

Cab Safe Security Solutions was born. That was a year ago and for that time I have been setting up the business whilst continuing to work.

By apple blossom time this year things were coming to a head. It was time for me to make a difficult decision. I could no longer run a business and continue to hold down a full time job.

It is not an ethnic decision, although a large proportion of people like myself from an Asian background do go in for self-employment, albeit too often because they find it difficult to secure traditional employment.

This is no leap in the dark; I have done my research and believe that a combination of a good product and a huge potential market will prove a winning combination.

The key ingredient for having a realistic chance of success along with a fair share of luck is optimism and a positive “can do” attitude.

Confidence – genuine not feigned – is gold dust. It is intangible and cannot be taught.

For me setting up this business is a chance and probably a last chance to do something on my own. Going for it means that whatever happens I will not end my working life thinking “what if.”

The sense of opportunity and a desire to make a better life was the driving force that led my family and thousands or other people from distant parts of the world to come to Birmingham and the West Midlands and when this opportunity came for me I had to grab it with both hands.

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Name: Adrian Kibbler
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