x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

You can change the world when you start a business

Manar Al Hinai offers tips on how to start a business and make it a success.

People have different reasons for wanting to start their own businesses, but often they do so because there is a product missing in the market or a service that would make lives much easier.

Instead of joining the corporate world, some of my friends have opted for the freedom and flexibility that entrepreneurs around the world are blessed with by running things themselves.

My sister, on the other hand, aims to change the world. She wants to be remembered as a prominent figure in the business sphere; a figurehead alongside the likes of Thomas Edison and Bill Gates.

I’m in my sister’s corner. I also want to change the world by finding solutions to challenges we all face.

Many products and services are executed from a clear idea. Steve Jobs aimed to produce computers that were tailored for personal use, for example.

As in the case of Jobs, and many other business people out there, starting a business that provides a solution to a challenge that people face is no piece of cake.

Sure, the idea seems great in our minds. We think to ourselves: “Hey I’ll buy or subscribe to that, and so will everybody else”. But to ensure the success of a business that improves people’s lives, key areas need to be assessed.

First and foremost, let’s say that there is a challenge or a problem that to be resolved requires a service or a new product, and you want to be the person who will turn that into a successful business.

Does this challenge really need to have a new product or service launched in order to be solved? Identifying the exact need, and determining that your business is in fact the solution to the problem will help you in creating the demand needed – and, hopefully, create a great product too.

Second, ensure your idea of the business actually has a market.

You can do that by conducting a focus group, asking experts or pitching the idea to financial analysts who will provide you with feedback and comments.

What many people tend to find out after distributing a survey or launching a product is that the challenge or the void that needs to be filled is actually larger than anticipated, and perhaps a better solution or a more advanced product is needed.

They then need to go back to their drawing boards and rethink their business, assessing what can be done to enhance it. Doing this will save them a great deal of time and money in the long run.

Third, always stand out.

Perhaps your product is not the first of its kind and there is already something similar out there that is missing the factor that you will introduce.

In addition, successful businesses will more likely follow and competitive products will be launched as a result. Standing out from the crowd is what keeps successful businesses standing firm even if hundreds of imitators follow their lead.

Which leads us to this: when you do start a business, make sure to incorporate a quality that makes you stand out from the crowd, even in the long run.

Perhaps you will provide excellent customer service, or will use sustainable local products. Whatever it is, it has to be unique and what makes people prefer to do business with you instead of others.

Last but not least, have a strong feedback system.

This is especially important at the early stages of starting a business. Create a committee that involves representatives of your target audience and experts in the field – marketers, financiers and business owners.

This will help you to better understand the market, and know what your target audience wants or expects of a business like yours. The more diversified your target audience representatives in your committee, the more valuable their feedback will be.

There will always be challenges and voids in the market that require the launch of different services and products; thus there will always be room and need for new ideas.

However, those businesses that aim to provide solutions to change the world, that listen to their customers and that are open to feedback are more likely to be paving the road to success.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and fashion designer based in Abu Dhabi