Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 May 2020

Why now is a good time to start a new business

Cheaper set-up costs, more helpful banks, and access to a big pool of talent are three of the reasons why starting your own company in uncertain times might make sense

Government bodies and free zones across the UAE have been waiving or reducing registration fees for start-up as part of measures aimed at reducing the economic impact of Covid-19. Getty Images
Government bodies and free zones across the UAE have been waiving or reducing registration fees for start-up as part of measures aimed at reducing the economic impact of Covid-19. Getty Images

With many of us currently stuck at home for most of our days, we have time on our hands to reflect on our lives and think of how we want our future to look like post-Covid-19.

A friend of mine always contemplated the idea of establishing a life coaching business; something she talked about every time we met over the years. She earned the required certifications but never got around to doing that because she was busy with her 9-to-5 job in the government sector. She was also confused about the best approach to setting up her business. Should she have an office? Should it just be an online coaching service? These were the kind of questions racing through her mind.

But by spending most of her time at home, instead of travelling with work, she finally had time to think her business concept through. She realised that there was a demand for online coaching sessions, and video conference apps made it easier for clients to schedule those sessions in. What took her years to implement was registered and online in a matter of weeks.

While we are living through turbulent times, and the future seems ambiguous, I do believe that the current situation presents an opportunity for those looking to starting a business. Why?

It’s cheaper to register for a business now

As part of the economic stimulus packages unveiled by many governments across the region, many fees are waived off for new businesses and SMEs, making it cheaper to register a business. Abu Dhabi banks, for instance, are offering reduced minimum average balance requirements for all SME account categories.

Competitive digital marketing rates

Advertisement rates across many platforms have declined, making it a great opportunity to increase brand awareness for your brand. In addition, with more people tuned in online, it could mean more potential customers exposed to your business and learning about it, especially if it is relevant to the current times. For instance, if you’d always contemplated establishing an online life-coaching business, online therapy service, or an online financial advisory business to help individuals navigate their finances, then now is a good time to set up your company and market it. If you can’t afford digital advertising, then you could try the old word-of-mouth tactic. A lot of people are in a mood to help during difficult times, and would love to support fellow community members, so you have more chance of people supporting your business by sharing a word or two about it. As part of their community support, some social media influencers announced that they would publicise local businesses for free on their platforms, which under normal circumstances they would charge thousands of dirhams for.

Talent in abundance

Many people have lost their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. As unfortunate as that is, this means that there there’s an access of a larger talent pool that you could recruit for your business. You could also look at remote workers as an option which is more cost-efficient, and could be effective in a number of fields such as customer service, IT support and design.

A colleague of mine is setting up a mobile application business. Prior to Covid-19, he was exploring the option of working with an agency based in the region. The offers he received were above his expectations. He recently signed with a mobile app developer in another country who works on a freelance basis and who agreed to deliver the scope of work for 50 per cent less than the offers he received from developers in the region. He saved the other 50 per cent to spend on digital marketing over the next few months.

Given all that, take your time to build a solid foundation and don’t rush through setting up a business too quickly. Figure out the most cost-efficient way to set up your business, evaluate the financing options, look for the most effective way to raise awareness about it, and build your clientele.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: May 16, 2020 11:54 AM

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