Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 26 August 2019

Trimming business expenses is important when starting out

Entrepreneurs tend to overspend when they launch a start-up

Tax expert Lisa Martin says the rules around de-registration are "a little complicated". Getty
Tax expert Lisa Martin says the rules around de-registration are "a little complicated". Getty

As the year comes to an end, it’s time to reflect and look at how your business performed throughout the year.

My annual exercise involves me reviewing all our activities, looking at what is working and what is not. We let go of dead weights and embrace new goals and ideas. I love to indulge in this exercise every December as it’s a quiet month around the office.

As I started going through my old files, I stumbled upon some expense records of a small business I ran years ago, and I was shocked at how much I spent on unnecessary costs, especially at the start-up phase. Many entrepreneurs find themselves in this situation, and when they look back they wish they had done things differently.

If you are starting out, here are some expenses you should keep at a minimum:

Website design

When I started that small business, I approached a web designer. It was a small website but I ended up spending a lot of money on it. I cringe when I look back because I didn’t require a complicated website to begin with. I wasn’t running a global operation with a huge team or lots of web traffic. If you are just starting out, I strongly suggest you consider options such as WordPress, or Wix. They provide hosting services, and you can choose from multiple themes and designs for your website. They work perfectly for a service, events and online shopping businesses. I’ve personally worked on WordPress and Wix and I’ve been very satisfied with both. Big companies such as CNN, Foreign Policy, and many more operate on WordPress websites.


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Logo and branding

Don’t get me wrong, your logo and branding are very important, but if you are just starting out, you don’t need to be spending tens of thousands on those features. Luckily there are many experienced freelance designers online who can do the work for you for competitive prices, and the results are just as creative and professional. Online businesses such as 99design connect clients to graphic designers worldwide and allows you to pitch your request in the form of a competition to designers, who then come up with a proposal for you to choose from. They are also flexible when it comes to budgets, and you can choose the rate that fits you.

Office space

This boils down to what kind of business you’re operating. If your business is only managed by you and is completely online then you don’t need to lease an office in the beginning, or you can opt for a co-working space. Even with a staff you can consider a co-working set-up. There are many options in the UAE that offer full-service co-working spaces such as Krypto Labs and GlassQube in Abu Dhabi, and Astro Labs and Re:Urban Studio in Dubai. For a flat fee every month you could have access to facilities such as meeting and production rooms. Krypto Labs, for example, has audio and video production facilities so they are great if you want to record podcasts or have a photo shoot.


If you are just starting out, you may not need to have full-time employees for all aspects of your business. For instance, I don’t have a full-time accountant on board, but I work with an accounting and auditing agency on a contract basis. Same goes for roles such as graphic designers or web developers. Many can be hired on a project basis and they don’t necessarily need to be living in the UAE. You can work with them remotely through virtual offices where you can monitor their work and communicate with them for a very low fee.

When you are setting up a new business, excitement and rush may overtake your judgement, and you could end up with unnecessary costs. I suggest you take it slow, comparie as many options out there as possible before you swipe that card.

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

Updated: December 22, 2018 05:38 PM