UAE entrepreneur essentials: trust your instincts and never be afraid to ask for help
Self-determination, an abundance of ideas, disaffection with “traditional” business models and boundless opportunities are just some of the reasons why people consider entrepreneurship as the way forward. Many of these aspiring entrepreneurs, however, despite their enthusiasm, lack the guidance they need to bring their projects to fruition.
With many years’ experience of business here in Dubai, I’m in a fortunate position to be able to pass on the benefit of not only the successes I’ve had but also the lessons I’ve learnt from my failures. If you’re an up-and-coming entrepreneur, I’d like to offer you some valuable advice on how you can focus your mind on success.
1. Define yourself before your business
An entrepreneur is a dreamer – someone who’s willing to sweat, cry, laugh and put in the never-ending hours to convert their dreams into their own reality. These, among others, are the combinations of attributes which are needed to become a successful entrepreneur. Budding business people should cultivate an amalgamation of all these qualities as well as bring their own talents, ideas and ambitions to their projects. It’s also important to recognise one of the core issues in successful entrepreneurship – that of being true to yourself. Only in this way can you achieve your goals and become enabled to identify solutions to problems which have hitherto eluded others.
2. Trial and error trumps all
How can you know what works until you haven’t tried it … even if it means failing a few times? One of the most important things to understand is that you shouldn’t be afraid to fail. If you do, don’t despair; see it as a learning opportunity. Ask yourself what you would do differently next time; what you didn’t do that you should have done and most importantly, what lessons you are taking forward to your next venture. Failure is only an obstacle if it prevents you doing what you’ve set out to achieve.
3. Be ready when opportunity strikes
Sometimes, as an entrepreneur, you have to be ready, fire and then aim. Sometimes those quick decisions are the “make-or-break-it” points in your business. The ability to make quick decisions, based on the information you have at any point in time is crucial – it’s part and parcel of any successful entrepreneur’s modus operandi. You must cultivate the ability to slice through the information you have and go with your gut instinct – that’s assuming that you have already invested in your work and have the experience to demonstrate that.
Gut feeling and instinct also play a vital part in success and lead directly to and from the ability to make rapid choices. Consider the role gut instinct plays when hiring a new member of staff: you have two possible candidates – the first ticks all the boxes with a great CV, good experience and is seemingly a perfect match for the job. The second candidate, while perhaps not as qualified or experienced as the first, brings so much passion to the interview that he makes you feel he would work 24/7 to make a success of the role. Faced with an on-the-spot decision, which would you choose? Trust your gut feeling and always listen to your inner voice.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for favours
Benjamin Franklin once said: “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
The “Benjamin Franklin” effect is a psychological phenomenon which is common across all cultures and ages. Put simply, it means that a person who has done you a favour in the past is more likely to help you again in the future than a person whom you have assisted.
This altruistic spirit is vital in the business community and exists more frequently than start-up entrepreneurs would suppose. Successful people were themselves helped when they were starting out and, perhaps, relied on the moral, financial and physical support of the same group of people time and time again. I can testify to this. By asking for help and spreading support within your network when you need it most, you can both assist people who are beginning on their career path and grow your network of contacts. Nobody will look down on you if you say: “I need your help”.
Vikram Shroff is the director for the Regal Group and the current president of the UAE Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation - a non-profit network of more than 10,000 business owners in 48 countries, as well as the finance chair of the India Club
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Updated: October 23, 2014 04:00 AM