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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Mobile businesses are on the rise: some ideas you can start today

Whether it be catering, beauty, health and fitness or something completely different, a mobile business is a great way to make some money

An Andiamo food truck at the Abu Dhabi Food festival. Mobile businesses are booming in the UAE. The National
An Andiamo food truck at the Abu Dhabi Food festival. Mobile businesses are booming in the UAE. The National

Mobile businesses are very popular in the UAE - whether they be food trucks, pop-up exhibitions, ice cream vans, or even four-wheeled fashion outlets as in the case of Moving Boutique, one of the latest business ventures popular in the local scene.

Moving Boutique, as its name suggests, is a vehicle that stocks multiple fashion wear such as abayas and kaftans and accessories, and travels to different locations across the UAE in the form of a pop-up shop.

The trend doesn’t stop with SMEs. Tryano, one of Abu Dhabi’s leading department stores, also offers a mobile home service where, upon a customer’s request, items are brought to their residence for trial and purchase.

Last month I visited the headquarters of The Food Truck Co in Dubai where many of those mobile trucks are manufactured to become florists or restaurant businesses, for instance. Until recently, mobile businesses were limited to food trucks, but not anymore. The Home Spa, is another Emirati firm that provides beauty services for women in the comfort of their homes.

If you think about it, it all makes sense. People are extremely busy, time is of an essence, and travelling across town to conduct errands takes up a large amount of time. Globally also, mobile businesses are increasing rapidly. The Economist reported last year that the United States had over 4,000 food trucks, and the industry’s revenue grew 7.9 per cent from 2011 to 2016.

The benefit of having a mobile business is that you are not tied to a certain location, meaning that you have more exposure to clients. If you operate a food truck, for example, you can be present wherever the clients are, in whatever city. And, depending on your business, generally the start-up costs are fairly low, meaning that you will gain profitability faster.

Here are a few ideas for mobile businesses you can start:

Personal training: If you are a licensed trainer or know someone who is, then starting a personal training business that provides competitive rates to gyms, and with a focused attention on individual clients, could be a great way to earn some money. What you could do is rent or buy a car, and have a trolley or a cart mechanism that would allow your trainer to move equipment around. This is one of the challenges that some trainers face in that they can’t transport equipment in their personal cars as many are just too small. Consider a small van, with a cart that could be easily moved in and out.

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Moving spa: Beauty is always in demand so clients will be there, and you will also have a competitive advantage if you can provide personal and professional salon services at a rate competitive to that of a salon. For years, I used to deal with a manicurist who provided exceptional professional service at very good rates. Unfortunately, she didn’t develop her business further. Blow Out & Go, on the other hand, is a great success story of a hair and makeup stylist business that travels across the country providing professional services at competitive rates to local businesses. In fact, the owners are now looking taking their business global.

Photography and videography service: As I’ve discussed in previous articles, in a couple of years most of the Web traffic will be dedicated to videos. In this region especially, people are extremely visually-aware and businesses that are enhancing their presences online on social media will need to constantly work with videographers and photographers. If you have a knack for that, consider a mobile photography and videography business. The better your rates, the more loyal clients you’ll have. I’ve worked with many videographers in the past for my clients but lately I’ve been loyal to one because of the great rates she offers, fast turnaround and professional service.

Catering services: Catering is a great business for anyone who has an exceptional culinary skills and who knows what is trendy in terms of food, cutlery and presentation. It only takes a handful of successful events, especially if you work with corporations, before you becoming well known. Catering is also a good stepping-stone to opening a pop-up restaurant, or expanding your offering to include weddings, or bigger ceremonies.

Overall, if the business you have in mind can be operated in a mobile way, then I’d suggest you give it a start that way. It could also provide you with a great opportunity to test the market, and see from which areas do you receive your most business demands, and also provides you with a more intimate channel with your customers.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi

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