I’ve been extremely lucky to have gained enormous business acumen from my father, Hussain Sajwani, Founder of DAMAC Properties, and most grateful for education. But I still treat each and every day as a learning experience.
Like many of us, I’ve had many business ideas, some viable, and others simply pipe dreams. Quite often, our business ideas are driven by our passions. You are interested in a particular topic, and through your interest, you identify a problem and then, logically, perhaps think up a solution to that problem. But how do your turn that potentially great idea into a viable business?
I’ve been looking into how we can best turn our passions into business ideas, and here, humbly offer six tips.
Mentors and inventors
Mentors can help us at all stages of our business life. Having the humility to listen to someone else’s trusted advice is a great quality in any entrepreneur’s playbook.
Likewise, industry experts, inventors and creatives can all bring new, alternative or fresh insight into how to turn your business idea into a reality.
And don’t be afraid to ask questions – most people are more than happy to field your queries – and let’s be honest, we all enjoy sharing our subject knowledge.
You might need to talk to scientists, engineers or coders – basically, seek out experts in your field that can help you with major pre-launch research, such as conduct a feasibility study into product viability, initial costs, development and design, for example.
We live in a country geared up to encourage business start-up success. I recommend reaching out to your own network, your family and friends, and making contact with the growing number of incubators, accelerators, and mentoring programmed based right here in the UAE.
And of course, the more people you talk to about your business idea, the better idea you will get of its feasibility.
Research, research, research
Following on from that point, research is crucial if you are to turn a dream into reality. You might discover your idea is already being done, or you might find the start-up costs are simply too prohibitive without funding.
Again, use your existing network as a sounding board. Speak to your family, your friends, and people already involved in the sector you’re pursuing.
An online survey is a great way to gauge interest in your idea. Take the time out before you get deeply involved in a new venture to analyse current and potential market volumes, geography, material availability and supply chains, for example.
Depending on the sector you will be working in, it can be extremely useful to develop pre-launch focus groups – made up of a wide cross-section of society, including potential customers, suppliers and perhaps even competitors.
Examine the competition
An entrepreneur knows their competition. You must work hard to understand the market and sector you’ll be working in. Ask – and research – whether anyone else is offering your product or service, or something similar?
What will you be up against? Is your idea innovative or unusual enough to dent existing players’ business? Do you really have the passion to carve a niche, or even a new sector? Remember, Henry Ford failed twice before settling on his ubiquitous vehicles’ famous Ford production model.
As he put it: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Today, we have the tools and technology to start off with more intelligence, drawing on our own knowledge and the collective knowledge offered by history, business experts, coaches and mentors. Competition is always good, and you can learn from your competitor’s mistakes.
In our tech-driven world, before you embark on a new business journey, examine how best to utilise technology to maximise ROI, reduce cost and enhance services. One area it’s definitely worth maximising investment in is technology.
Before you start a company, invest time and energy in ensuring you have the best technology solutions in place for managing customer relationships, your supply chain, your finances and accounting…to begin with. You might be a technology company, but you must spend time focusing on your own tech-based systems before you can offer great technology solutions to others.
Funding the foundation
Funding and cash flow are vital in the early days of any new business. You might be driven by your passion, but carefully examine the initial and ongoing costs.
Will you need an office, warehouse or production facility? Again, Dubai is blessed with a vast variety of real estate options, from shared workspaces to huge free zone warehouses. Examine your needs carefully, and allow for expansion or contraction of your real estate footprint. In the early days it’s a great idea to join an incubator or co-working hub, as they offer a space to work alongside all the other benefits of being in a shared space, such as training, mentoring, networking, lower costs and flexibility.
Decide if you will need investors. There are a great many investors out there, but they will all want to see solid business plans, a sensible approach and solid profit projections.
Could a business incubator or business consultancy help you create the right pitch deck for investment? That’s down to you, but my advice is to always seek advice. Don’t assume you know all the answers, and trust in the experience of others to guide you onto the right path.
What comes across in each of these tips is the value of human connection. Networking, training, speaking with family and friends. We are surrounded by people who love us, believe in us, but also those who we know will be honest with us. Your best friend might support your business idea, but a coach will tell you how it really is.
And spreading the word about your new idea will certainly help spread your passion. People are your best tool for marketing, awareness and encouraging interest – so get out there and find your tribe.
Having that initial idea for a business is a wonderful feeling. Getting it off the ground tests your resolve, your strength and your spirit. But don’t do it alone. Use all your knowledge contacts and abilities, and go for it! Best of luck!
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