Young entrepreneur owns businesses in both UAE and UK
'Accounting skills I picked up come in handy'
Growing up with an accountant for a father and role model, an awareness of money management was instilled in me and my siblings from an early age. Now, at 28, I have a sixth sense for sound investment and as a consequence I have recently established my own relocation business called 2DXB with the help and guidance of an umbrella company here in the UAE.
Although I am British, I have been fortunate enough to live an international life. Born in Paris, my family moved to Tokyo when I was three. At the age of six, we moved to Norfolk in the UK, where I spent most of my childhood and early teenage years. I moved to the Middle East in 2004 when I took a job with Emirates Airline as cabin crew. My decision to move to Dubai was nothing to do with money, but more to do with expanding my horizons. Once I arrived I immediately realised the opportunity to save money, and I also saw a great potential for business. In 2007, I moved away from the airline industry and into relocation. In February this year I embarked on a new venture and decided to set up on my own. I feel that my educational background in leisure and tourism, as well as my experience as an expatriate, gives me the edge when it comes to understanding the requirements of relocation to and from a foreign country.
Having earned pocket money from a young age, I have always understood the connection between working and making money. My parents had a simple formula for determining how much pocket money I would make. At nine, I made 90 pence (Dh5) a week, which went up to £1 at the age of 10. I always took an interest in my father's work and often helped him with book-keeping tasks. This gave me an insight into having financial responsibility and taught me to appreciate the value of money.
Looking back, the accounting skills I picked up from my father have been of great assistance to me in today's business world. I have always tried hard to save money. If you build up your savings, sometimes it is wise to transfer money from your current account to a fixed-deposit account, where it will earn more interest and be less accessible to you, therefore avoiding any temptation to withdraw cash unnecessarily. Had I not been saving and building up some capital, I would never have been in a position to set up my business at the age of 28.
I was fortunate not to have to borrow money to help set up the business and, instead, could rely solely on personal savings. With my business, my monthly salary is variable. In these early stages it is hard to determine exactly how much, having paid the bills and rent, I have towards spending and saving. At the moment any spare cash is invested in the business. Once the business is more established I anticipate saving about 25 per cent of my income.
I am in the process of selling a company in the UK which I entered into as an investment in 2003. It is a small restaurant and hotel and it has recently been valued at double the price at which we bought it. Having anticipated that the start of my business would coincide with the onset of the financial crisis, I knew there would be a period of time when money was going out and not necessarily coming in, so fortunately, I was well prepared.
As with most people, I have had to make cutbacks in my personal life, such as choosing a cheaper gym membership, to help cope with the financial instability. However, I can't help but feel that perhaps we will all benefit in the long run through being forced to be more frugal with our money. After all, it would be silly to believe that money alone can buy you happiness. To some people, happiness is having a flashy car or the latest mobile phone, but to others, simply owning a car at all is a luxury.
If I became a millionaire overnight, I would start by paying my brother back the 1 yen I owe him - with interest, of course. I would like to think I wouldn't abandon the way I have managed my money up until now and I hope I wouldn't become frivolous. There are several charities close to my heart, including the Kidney Research UK and groups that research into coeliac disease, so I would use my unexpected windfall to donate funds to a good cause. * As told to Inga Stevens