Landman to Businessman- My First Start-up

Female hand holding white chalk in front of a blackboard with start-up written on it

By Younas Chaudhary

In the late seventies, when I moved to America, I often heard of stories that if you had a viable business idea and could work hard, the West was the place to launch a start-up company and be an entrepreneur.

I constantly had this thought in my young mind as I launched my first start-up, which was an oil & gas production company in Kansas. Prior to that, I started in the oil business as a landman, sometimes called a “lease hound.” I would go to rural areas, meet with landowners, and lease land from farmers for the drilling of oil and gas wells. I then sold the leases to investors who wanted to drill wells on the leased lands. As a landman, I knew there was a limit on my earning potential even though I made a significant profit working as a landman.

I had no formal education in the oil and gas business, and I felt that I needed to find ways to create a steady and continuous income stream. You can learn more about me, how I launched my first start-up and my business tactics by purchasing my book “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold”.

Since I wanted to increase my income stream, I decided to buy producing oil wells, and drill and produce oil & gas wells, instead of just being a landman. During those days, I did not even know what the term start-up meant, but I was very passionate about the oil & gas industry. I quickly learned that there was a unique market and plenty of opportunities in the oilfield industry, but I had to start somewhere. This reminds me of a quote from the legendary American business author, Zig Ziglar: “You do not have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”.

I began my business working very hard for long hours, 7 days a week for several years which involved dealing with   farmers, oilfield workers, office staff, investors and lenders.

I also watched closely and studied how the oilfield business worked and learned the dynamics of the volatile oil market. This took place in the late seventies and eighties in this wonderful country where an immigrant like me had ample opportunities to compete against other American companies vying for a share of the US oil market.

When I launched my start-ups in Kansas, I had a passion for what I was doing, and I worked hard, studied the business and tried to understand my market well. Today, many young adults want to establish start-ups but 70% of them fail. Sadly, they are not passionate about the opportunity, lack the willingness to do hard work, have no patience, no discipline, do not study the market and want to get rich quick.

 Does having a million business ideas in mind, mean, someone will buy your product or service? I think not. Getting market acceptance for a viable product and/or service is a totally different ball game. You need to have an in- depth understanding of the market, understand consumer preferences, have a deep personal interest, be dedicated and willing to work long, hard hours. You also need to have the foresight to predict what might happen to the future of the business.

As an example, if you have a passion to be a hairstylist and want to start a barber shop on your own, the best option is to start work at an existing barber shop and learn the business,  develop your unique haircut style, know your customers’ needs, think of an ideal location, and develop other ideas for your future business.  Then, launch your start-up salon with a unique style of service. This requires dedication, consistency, hard work and patience to hold on to your idea until the market embraces it.

There is a tendency these days to promote and glorify risk. You need to take risks, but they should be calculated risks. You should not establish risky start-ups with someone else’s money. Risk taking is necessary, but there is no good reason to take unreasonable risks that could lead to failure.

Every successful start-up requires perseverance, consistency and a little luck. Take the case of Zoom, the teleconferencing platform that nobody had heard of, until recently. When the pandemic struck and people had to start working from home, Zoom suddenly became a household name. Its founder spent the past 11 years building it and when the time came, both hard work and good luck paid off well. This is a story of sheer perseverance and in the words of Steve Jobs of Apple: “I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” So, before you begin your start-up, think of the hard work, long hours, consistency, perseverance and the long road ahead. Hopefully, good luck will join you in due time.

Find out more about me in my best-selling book “From dirt roads to black gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.

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The views, thoughts and opinions  expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been , am now or will be affiliated.

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