Why it pays to be an entrepreneur in the UAE
Being an entrepreneur isn't easy, some would even say it isn't for everyone, yet being an entrepreneur generally commands respect in our society. This self-starter venturing out on his/her own is usually either smart or crazy (I tend to think it's a bit of both) but is by and large usually viewed favourably by his/her peers as if to say "good on you for doing what we wish we could"; that, of course, while many entrepreneurs constantly think of hanging the towel in exchange for a cushy corporate job and/or financial security.
The moral of the story is that everyone thinks the grass is greener on the other side. Well, having been on both sides, I tend to, for now, side with the entrepreneurship side of the fence as my experience thus far has been incredibly fulfilling and exciting to say the least. That experience of course comes with an abundance of challenges, a fair share of learning opportunities and of course the big F word, Failure!
The bottom line is entrepreneurship isn't easy, it takes a toll on your life, your family life and of course your social life. Yet, I welcome being an entrepreneur, especially in the UAE, with open arms, and so should you.
A few facts before we begin:
1) No one today can predict
2) Luck plays a strong role.
While we take the above facts as a given, there are still a few elements entrepreneurs should take into account to maximise their chances of success in the UAE. Here are my top three:
> Align with the government's vision
> Embrace the diversity
Align with the government's vision
If you're like me, this time is super exciting to be an entrepreneur. My biggest advice before you begin your business is to truly understand what the UAE's vision is for the future and try your best to not only align with that vision, but also participate in making it happen. The vision set forward will be a guiding principle for a lot of the upcoming policies, investments and focus of the UAE and as such, could present a huge opportunity for an up-and-coming entrepreneur. The best part is that you don't need to look way ahead. In Vision 2021, which is around the corner, the UAE government sets to achieve the following:
> Cohesive society and preserved identity
> Safe public and fair judiciary
> Competitive knowledge economy
> First rate education
> World-class healthcare
> Sustainable environment and infrastructure
Aligning with the above goals will surely go a long way in taming the element of luck.
The UAE's diverse population is a blessing and all entrepreneurs should embrace it and see the incredible value in it. Diversity, be it gender or cultural, is a huge source of value that entrepreneurs should tap into. Putting a diverse team together enhances creativity, increases relevance and most importantly tackles challenges better than homogeneous teams as quite simply the team's differences are its strengths.
The best example I can come up with to illustrate the importance of localisation would be e-commerce. If you're an entrepreneur looking to set up an online e-commerce business, you absolutely need to localise not only your campaigns but also the language used, products sold and most importantly your business model. Cash on delivery (COD), for example, is a no-brainer to take into account when planning to set up a business not only in the UAE but also in the region. While the UAE is already ahead of its peers in the GCC when it comes to online credit card transactions, COD is still very much a reality which means entrepreneurs need to budget in the event that the person is not home to pay for the item or simply changed his/her mind.
Being an entrepreneur in the UAE is nothing short of exciting. Align with the government's vision, embrace diversity and localise, and you'll increase your chances of success, decrease uncertainty and most importantly own your luck.
The writer is CEO of Sellanyhome.com. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.