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Cheif Executive Officer, Crescent Enterprises

Badr Jafar is an Emirati impact entrepreneur who serves as Managing Director of the Crescent Group, a family business group, operating in the UAE for over 42 years. The Group today consists of two main companies: Crescent Petroleum, the region's first independent and privately-owned petroleum company in the Middle East, of which Badr is President; and Crescent Enterprises, the company's conglomerate operating across several industry sectors of the global economy, of which he is Chief Executive Officer.

Within as well as outside of the family business, Badr has extensively explored social enterprise and joined and founded initiatives which focus on how business affects society and its reciprocal effect.

Badr founded the Pearl Initiative, a venture between the Private-Sector of Gulf Region of Middle East and the United Nations Office for Partnerships to promote a corporate culture of transparency and accountability. He sits on the Global Board of Education for Employment (EFE), is a member of the Synergos Arab World Social Innovators (AWSI) Program Board of Governors and is a Founding Board Member of Endeavor UAE, an initiative encouraging entrepreneurship in the Gulf Region.       

Badr is actively involved in higher education, serving as a member of the American University of Sharjah's Business Advisory Council, and as a member of the Research and Innovation Advisory Council for The Centre of Excellence for Applied Research & Training (CERT) at the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) in Abu Dhabi. Badr also chairs the Alumni Advisory Council of the Cambridge University Judge Business School and serves as Board Member of their International Advisory Board.

Dear Badr, This is a great topic. While being at an event, how should I reach out to a contact without being perceived as annoying? Also, after a few minutes of a casual chat, how to open the topic I wanted to discuss with that particular person? Usual advice is just to mention it and then ask for contact details to schedule an appointment – but they never return my calls or answer my e-mails. What do you think? Thanks a lot, Khalid

Hi Khalid, As I mentioned in a previous answer, networking is a two-way street. It’s not all about you. To be effective at networking, you need to be able...

Hi Khalid,

 

As I mentioned in a previous answer, networking is a two-way street. It’s not all about you. To be effective at networking, you need to be able to give as well as take. Know who you’re targeting and what they’re interested in, understand what you have to offer and why they may be interested in it. Have your elevator pitch prepared and be very concise.

 

As for getting them to meet with you, if you’re armed with the right information, and you’re able to get them interested, then you should be able to get their contact info and confirm an appointment on the spot. Show that you are flexible and willing to accommodate their schedule of course, then follow up with an email the next day.

 

Good luck,

Badr

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Dear Mr. Jafar, Please share with us your experience, a successful example of networking that has helped you grow your business? What would be your main advice – especially when it comes to being aware of the local culture? Regards, Eli

Hi Eli, Getting the most out of your network is all about knowing exactly what your business needs are. Once you have that, you’ll know what type of people...

Hi Eli,

 

Getting the most out of your network is all about knowing exactly what your business needs are. Once you have that, you’ll know what type of people you need to connect to. And once you know that, you should be able to find a common contact that can make the intro, or if not, then target events that these people may be attending. Before making a connection, however, you should always be fully prepared. Do your homework about the people you’re trying to connect to, who they are, what interests them and why they would want to give you their time. What value can this connection bring to your business and, more importantly, how can you add value to them. Networking is a two-way street.

 

When it comes to cultural awareness, we live in a conservative society that values privacy. Always keep that in mind when approaching someone for the first time.

 

Best,

Badr

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Dear Mr. Jafar, A lot of people use LinkedIn as a networking tool but I still shy away thinking that I should first meet the person before sending him or her an invitation to connect. What do you think? How can we use LinkedIn as a networking tool? Best, Rami

Dear Rami, I do agree that meeting someone in person beats an online introduction any day, however, in today’s fast-pace digital world it is very difficult...

Dear Rami,

 

I do agree that meeting someone in person beats an online introduction any day, however, in today’s fast-pace digital world it is very difficult to meet everyone you’d like to in person. I believe tools such as LinkedIn are very good for finding certain people relevant to your business, and fast.

 

However, the way in which you connect to someone is even more important. Rather than “cold-calling” a person, it is always preferred to connect to them through a common contact, or one that can make a relevant referral. That is where the strength of tools such as LinkedIn come to light. You are easily able to find common contacts and take these routes to get an affective introduction to the right people.

 

With the advent of social media, the traditional 6 degrees of separation have been drastically shrinking with a recent study suggesting there are on average 3.74 degrees of separation between any one Facebook user and another. This number is probably much smaller when looking at a single region, country, or industry.

 

Hope this helps.

Badr

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Hi Badr, I attend a lot of networking events. Sometimes to gain some business leads, meet people in my industry and grow my network, and similar but I more often than not leave disappointed. Do you think networking is as a complete waste of time? Shouldn’t more people focus more on building their company and less on chasing people? Thanks, Abdulmalek

Dear Abdulmalek, I definitely do not think networking is a waste of time. In fact, in my experience, most business ideas and deals come to fruition when...

Dear Abdulmalek,

 

I definitely do not think networking is a waste of time. In fact, in my experience, most business ideas and deals come to fruition when coincidentally meeting the right person at the right time.

 

Networking is an ongoing process, so don’t get disheartened. You should be looking to continuously build your ‘list’ of contacts, and maintain it through regular communications until a specific need arises that may require the support from someone on your list. You just need to be patient until the right opportunity comes along. And the best outcomes happen when you least expect them!

 

Enjoy it!

Badr

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Dear Badr, With the advent of social media, do you think the importance of old-fashioned offline networking has changed? Which of the two should we focus on more? Thanks, Nelum

Dear Nelum, As you correctly point out, “old-fashioned” offline networking has indeed changed, however, probably in that it is now even more important...

Dear Nelum,

 

As you correctly point out, “old-fashioned” offline networking has indeed changed, however, probably in that it is now even more important than ever before.

 

In fact, with so many more people being easily accessible online, it has become more difficult to standout and make a personal impact. While a person or people you’d like to meet is getting dozens of online requests and introductions, it is the face to face personal meetings that are more likely to leave a lasting impression. So even though online networking has made it much easier to find the people you’d like to meet, the traditional personal meeting still makes it easier to be remembered.

 

Best,

Badr

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Hi Badr, Do we really need a PR? I run a small coffee shop which I believe you have visited already and I’m frustrated with so many so-called marketing professionals offering me their services and telling me that my business will fail if I don’t engage a professional PR. But I really can’t afford to pay thousands of dirhams per month for their services at this point. Can you please advise us how to approach media on our own? Thank you very much, Aisha

Hello Aisha, Regardless of how a business is performing, marketing in some form or other, even if not deliberate, is crucial for the sustainability of...

Hello Aisha,

 

Regardless of how a business is performing, marketing in some form or other, even if not deliberate, is crucial for the sustainability of a business. Now, if budgets don’t allow, there are several cost-effective methods that can be utilised to raise awareness and expose your business. Social media is one method that has proved very successful with F&B outlets, but also fun and creative promotions (videos or competitions perhaps) can become viral quickly and won’t cost you much. You can also look into setting up a simple loyalty programme that keeps your customers coming back.

 

Regarding the marketing professionals, it’s always a good idea to keep them in your network. You’d be surprised how much you can learn over a friendly cup of coffee!

 

Hope to get to visit your coffee shop again in the near future.

Badr

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Hi Badr. We all agree market research is important, but how can I be sure I’m getting the right information, and analysing it correctly? I guess it depends from business to business, but are there some underlying principles? I’m an entrepreneur with a range of interests, so would love to know what the basic rules across the board are for market research. Thanks a million, David

Hi David, There’s no doubt about the importance of market research, however, as you pointed out, how do you know what data to look for and when to trust...

Hi David,

 

There’s no doubt about the importance of market research, however, as you pointed out, how do you know what data to look for and when to trust it?

 

It is generally assumed that no business plan is complete without solid and reliable market research, wherever possible. Depending on the industry, there are reliable sources that you can use to get macro-level data. Metrics like market size, competitive landscape, and pricing are usually possible to assess through determined online research, however, the best research you can conduct for a start-up is customer research specific to your product or service. Nothing will provide you with relevant and substantial data as much as your target audience themselves.

 

It is critical that before even launching a product or service, customer feedback is being used continuously during the design process. We generally tend to design products and services based on our own preferences, however, we need to always remember that we ourselves don’t necessarily represent the target audience. More often than not, customer focus groups and surveys will result in the final offering being significantly different and a lot more relevant from the initial idea.

 

Getting this first-hand customer input during the design phase also provides for more credibility in the business plan if you’re looking for funding.

 

Good luck.

Badr

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Dear Mr Jafar, As a small business owner I have got a core group of loyal supporters. Somebody suggested I ask them to be brand ambassadors. In your experience, will this help? And how can I make it so that it doesn’t feel like I’m taking advantage of them? Any advice most welcome, Alia

Hi Alia, Absolutely. In my opinion, the best and most authentic form of marketing is word of mouth (communicated verbally as well as digitally). Just think...

Hi Alia,

 

Absolutely. In my opinion, the best and most authentic form of marketing is word of mouth (communicated verbally as well as digitally). Just think of the amount of products and/or services you’ve tried after hearing about it from friends. In addition, people in general like giving good tips to their friends about places to visit, products to try, etc…So don’t be shy to ask!

 

When approaching a potential brand ambassador be sure to offer incentives wherever possible; that way you can develop a win-win solution that you will both benefit from.

 

Best,

Badr

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Hi, Can you suggest some good resources about how to do my own marketing? I don’t have a budget to outsource it, so need to find as much good information as I can. Thanks, Sarah P.

Hi Sarah, Try the following: - Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) - you can customise your target audience and spend only based on impressions...

Hi Sarah,

 

Try the following:

 

- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) - you can customise your target audience and spend only based on impressions.

 

- Word of mouth - tell as many people in your personal and professional network about your business, and make it easy for them to tell their networks.

 

- Small events - you can host small affordable events at home or at a café for the media, bloggers, and key clients to really raise awareness about your business.

 

What you believe and communicate about your business will always have a big impact on others, so don’t underestimate the power ’spreading the word’.

 

Best of luck to you.

Badr

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Hi Badr, I have recently launched a luxury brand in Abu Dhabi selling antique-style but stylish watches. What would be better for me – using a PR team which focuses on start-ups, or a PR team which focuses on luxury? Yours, Ajmal

Hi Ajmal, It all really depends on your target audience. Are you targeting people who are interested in new and stylish brands or those more influenced...

Hi Ajmal,

 

It all really depends on your target audience. Are you targeting people who are interested in new and stylish brands or those more influenced in the more established luxury brands? PR in start-up and entrepreneurship publications has many benefits, including getting your business exposed to potential investors who themselves may also be potential customers, however, you may not be getting to all the audience that matter to your business and will generate the highest return.

 

At this early stage of a start-up, revenue matters most. You need to sell your product and build up a solid foundation of customers. This means that every dirham you spend on marketing and PR counts and should give you the highest returns possible. That being said, you should also be aware of the cost associated with hiring a PR agency specialised in luxury products as their fees tend to be higher. At the end of the day it really comes down to the approach that will generate the highest return for you.

 

Best, Badr

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For a long time I have been trying to get a good logo for my branding. My business is an Arabic restaurant in Deira, Dubai. I have done quite well with something basic but I think people would recognise the restaurant more if there was an eye catching logo. How can I get a good logo for the business, and am I right that it will make a big difference? With thanks, Abdulaziz

Dear Abdulaziz, There are several factors that can contribute to your business’s success when it comes to branding. Some standard questions you need to...

Dear Abdulaziz,

 

There are several factors that can contribute to your business’s success when it comes to branding. Some standard questions you need to ask yourself are: Does my branding really reflect the best version of the experience I’m trying to create? Is it clear, simple, and easy to understand? If those two answers are ‘yes’, then you’re on the right track already. If one or both are ‘no’, then you know what you will need to work on.

 

There is more than one way you can go about conducting a brand development exercise including hiring an agency, or a freelance brand builder depending on the budget you’d like to allocate and who you feel comfortable working with – it’s important that you feel the brand builder really understands your product. In my experience, you do not need to spend a lot of money on developing a good logo, however it might take some time to get it right. Do not be afraid to gather friends and family to present options to them for their opinions before you make a decision.

 

And yes, I believe that branding does make a big difference when it comes to positioning yourself in the market, but it must always be coupled with the right business model. A great brand needs a great product for it to succeed.

 

Good luck in your creative journey.

Badr

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Many thanks for your continued advice and support for small businesses. I am about to launch a new range of apps with some university friends. Being in the digital sphere, we are on the ball with our social media marketing, but we’re less effective with more traditional methods and are looking at bringing in a PR company. My question is really whether you think we’re doing the right thing? Is it still worth going down the traditional marketing route, or should we save money and stick with social media marketing? Best regards, Peter

Dear Peter, This is a very valid question to be asking yourself. The great thing about digital marketing is that a lot of the work can be done in-house...

Dear Peter,

 

This is a very valid question to be asking yourself. The great thing about digital marketing is that a lot of the work can be done in-house and the results can be easily and immediately quantified. The channels you choose to use really depend on your target audience. That said, in our region of the world a large number of consumers still read newspapers and watch TV therefore you should not ignore these mediums altogether.

 

Generally, the most effective marketing plans utilise a variety of channels that together ensure the highest exposure to your target audience. With apps, one could safely assume that your customers would already be relatively tech savvy and therefore be exposed to do social media channels.

 

With more traditional avenues and over the long term, public relations (PR) is a medium that can be tailored to target your specific audience. That being said, in the start-up phase of a business, when you may not have a big enough marketing budget that allows you to use multiple mediums, it is of course good to use the most effective and measurable methods. Once you pick up good momentum, you should definitely start looking at other channels.

 

Look forward to learning more about the apps you are producing.

 

Best, Badr

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Dear Badr, Appreciating your initiative, but asking myself isn't the word "entrepreneur" misinterpreted in your case? An entrepreneur is someone who made it from scratch himself with will, engagement, the power to achieve and mostly not with a huge financial background like you. I don't think it is someone who got a well-running businesses handed over from his father and just needed to adjust and improve the same while he was raised and growing inside of it. How do you advise someone if you did not make it yourself from scratch yourself? And do you really think that borrowing money from friends and relatives is the right advice for people to start their business? Where did you get this experience from? Obviously you didn’t need to do this yourself. Wouldn't it make much more sense to get advice from a real "entrepreneur", who got a knowledge of the real world himself without having millions of dirhams as a back up at any stage? Would obviously be very surprised to see this question published and answered, but I am very interested to know where the real experience to advise people comes from, because wrong advice can lead to serious consequences. Thanks, Ulrike

I appreciate your candid queries Ulrike. It’s worth highlighting at the outset that true “entrepreneurship”, which in my opinion is a combination of passion...

I appreciate your candid queries Ulrike.

 

It’s worth highlighting at the outset that true “entrepreneurship”, which in my opinion is a combination of passion, skills and experience, can be applied and practiced in numerous real-life situations from absolute start-ups to very mature publically-listed companies.

 

Whilst I do not hide the fact that I was very fortunate to be brought up in a family with means and did cut my teeth with entrepreneurship from an early age, growing up in a family business which my father founded in the early 70’s, I also had the invaluable opportunity of being engulfed in a number of start-ups establishing a number of relatively small scale business ventures while at school and also university.

 

The most relevant to your query would probably be my first venture after leaving Cambridge: despite the fact that I graduated with a Masters in Engineering, my decision to establish a fashion accessories business took many by surprise, not least my family.

 

Having been brought up in a relatively conservative social environment, it was not easy to say the least, to harness interest in my vision. Therefore in order to launch this vision that I had (after 16 months of tweaking business plans after many failed pitches) I managed to secure a small business loan of GBP 50,000 from the Royal Bank of Scotland.  This got me going, and allowed me to develop a successful line of fashion accessories.

 

When I sold the company to a Japanese distributer three years later, the brand was selling in 12 different countries.

 

However that successful experience of growing a profitable enterprise from scratch was a double-edged sword, in that it probably made me feel overly confident that I could repeat that success many times over. I say this, because many of the ventures I attempted to establish straight afterwards in a host of different sectors including e-commerce, F&B, and property development were not successful – the silver lining was of course that I learnt a lot more from these failures than I did with my initial success!

 

Later on in my career, after joining the family business and applying what I had learnt to our existing energy business, I worked alongside the dedicated men and women in our business group to establish numerous other businesses under the umbrella of the newly formed Crescent Enterprises.

 

This gave me the opportunity to be exposed to new business challenges in a variety of new sectors at differing stages in their lifeline (from incubating new ideas to enhancing a 37 year old ports & logistics business). Each of them presented unique opportunities and challenges, all of which required entrepreneurial competencies.

 

Therefore if I am to try to make a distinction between an entrepreneur and a business manager, it would be that the entrepreneur has an insatiable appetite to make the world a better place by identifying needs, and the desire to offer more effective services or products. And they will go to any length to do so.

 

Can entrepreneurship be taught to our youth? Absolutely. It can start as early as they learn to communicate, and it is also never too late to practice it. I often say my father taught me everything I know, but unfortunately hasn’t yet taught me everything he knows! At the end of the day, everyone needs to travel their own journey in this wonderfully challenging ecosystem.

 

I hope this sheds some light on some of my journey, and wishing you good luck in yours.

 

Badr

 

P.S. Regarding any confusion in relation to the “friends and family” round of fundraising, I did not ever suggest that budding entrepreneurs should go about borrowing money from friends and family. What I was referring to is the typical “Round A” of fundraising that a start-up inevitably goes through, and which more often than not is raised through sources already known to the entrepreneur.

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Having over 25 years of working experience, so I cannot be classified as a startup, but when asking a question on How to build a great team, I am definitely a startup. Despite all work commitments, plans and involvement, somehow couldn’t build a great team or at least a good stable team. Biggest team I had was in 2008 with 11 staff, but reduced to 3 only by end of last year with huge losses. Now building a new team, but the question in the background, will I do it again? Then how can I build the “Great Team”? Best Regards, Emad

Dear Emad, Putting together the right team is not an easy feat, but it’s probably one of the most important factors for succeeding in business. Henry Ford...

Dear Emad,

 

Putting together the right team is not an easy feat, but it’s probably one of the most important factors for succeeding in business. Henry Ford is known to have admitted that his success was not due to him knowing how to do things himself, but to knowing people who did!

 

With a company of your size, it is critical that you hire a team to compliment your skills and bring new knowledge and expertise to the table. So, as a first step, you need to assess your requirements and determine the skills that would bring the most value to your business. Only once that’s clear should you start looking for people. Understanding what and who you’re looking for will make the search much easier.

 

If your personal networks are not sufficient, consider using various hiring channels such as recruitment agencies or head-hunters for senior positions. Also, be sure to take your time in hiring the right people. Do not “settle” for a candidate just because they’re the best of the lot. Getting these early-stage hires right is key to your business success. And be prepared for an iterative process and fine-tuning along the way.

 

Once you find the right people, make sure you keep them by motivating them, challenging them, and making sure they get sufficiently rewarded for their efforts.

 

Wish you the best of luck putting your new team together.

Badr

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Dear Badr, Do you have any practical tips for motivating, energising and engaging a workforce? I want to get the best out of my team but am inexperienced as a man-manager. Thanks a lot, Abdulatif

Dear Cameron, You ask a key question, the answer to which has been analysed in thousands of books, articles, and research documents. In short, the first...

Dear Cameron,

 

You ask a key question, the answer to which has been analysed in thousands of books, articles, and research documents. In short, the first step to motivating your employees is for you to be motivated yourself! It is important that you are enthusiastic and excited about what you do, for you to have a chance of instilling the same excitement into your team.

 

In terms of motivating everyone through the same process, unfortunately there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. All employees are different and have different motivations. You need to understand what motivates each individual first. Some are driven by financial gain, others by a sense of purpose, status, or continuous learning.

 

A good way for you to discover this about your employees is through regular and frequent feedback sessions. These don’t necessarily need to be formal and documented, in fact, they’re better kept as informal discussions revolving around specific tasks, goals, performance KPIs etc. Such feedback sessions serve a dual purpose – in addition to helping you understand what motivates each individual, they also help motivate them. People in general like to know how they’re progressing against certain goals. It provides a sense of security, acknowledgement and accomplishment.

 

Once you know what motivates each individual, you will need to apply slightly different tactics to each person or situation, whether through recognition and appreciation of one’s work, or simply giving the person an opportunity to continuously learn and develop their skills.

 

At the end of the day, motivating your team is probably the single most important role of a manager. It has been proven over and over again that motivated employees are more productive, creative, and ultimately more valuable to a company. So as a manager, focus on your motivational skills.  It will pay back dividends.

 

Best,

Badr

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Dear Mr. Jafar, I have 12 staff as part of a recruitment company I started three years ago, and already I have problems in labour court with the two of them. What are the legal pitfalls that most people fall into when hiring? How can I avoid them? Prakash

Dear Prakash, Fortunately for entrepreneurs, the labuor law in the UAE is relatively straight forward and easy to understand. It is available online at...

Dear Prakash,

 

Fortunately for entrepreneurs, the labuor law in the UAE is relatively straight forward and easy to understand. It is available online at http://uaelaborlaw.com/ for anyone to read. It is important to review these laws entirely before starting to hire staff. Some vital decisions you would need to make before hiring relate to the type of contracts to provide (limited vs. unlimited), and duration of the probation period.

 

You also need to be aware of the consequences of hiring into certain positions. There are certain scenarios which require an employee to complete two years for one employer, before they move companies. If they leave within this period, they will not be issued a work visa for the new company. It will save you time, money and resources if you’re aware of these stipulations before you start interviewing candidates.

 

Another area to be aware of is hiring from competitors. It is actually possible for a competitor to block the visa issuance of an employee transferring to you if they can present a strong enough case around the transfer of knowledge and business. This may not be fair practice, but it happens.

 

Again, though the UAE labour law is less complicated than most other countries in our region, it is very important to have a good understanding of it before you start hiring.

 

Best,

Badr

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Hi, My name is Danny from Lebanon and I’ve launched a new food concept. I need staff but I can’t afford huge wages. Will I still be able to get quality people to work for me? If so, how? Danny

Dear Danny, In terms of your most senior staff, though you might not be able to afford the big salary demanded by a seasoned industry professional, you...

Dear Danny,

 

In terms of your most senior staff, though you might not be able to afford the big salary demanded by a seasoned industry professional, you should be able to attract them to join your company if you were to use a more entrepreneurial approach. There are various ways of doing so, such as offering a compensation scheme which correlates with the future profits of the company, or formulating some form of stock options (you can search online for more about this).

 

In such cases, very good talent can be brought on board in return for sharing some of the profits or compensation that is tied directly to their and the businesses’ performance. This type of person would not be your typical employee looking for a safe and secure job that generates a guaranteed income, but rather someone who is willing to be innovative and take a risk with you in hopes of bigger returns in the future. I would advise that you look for senior staff are entrepreneurial themselves and willing to take the risk with you in the early days of a start-up.

 

In terms of the junior staff required for an F&B business, it would be much harder to entice them the same way. Here you would probably need to pay market rates based on the quality you require.

 

Look forward to hearing how the concept develops.

Badr

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Dear Badr, I’m spending a lot of money on my business in Deira which has already been growing for four years, but can’t do everything myself so I need to bring in a team. As I can’t afford a lot of people, what are the key positions I need to fill? My company is in marketing and events. Dominique

Dear Dominique, Sustained growth over four years is a great start, so congratulations on that front. There are three very important functions in your business...

Dear Dominique,

 

Sustained growth over four years is a great start, so congratulations on that front.

 

There are three very important functions in your business line: sales, project execution, and cash flow management. Assuming the first two are taken care of by yourself and a small team, your next most important function is finance and accounting.

 

Many start-ups tend to neglect this part of the business early on so that they can focus on growing the business. However, cash flow is crucial to a start-up, especially one in your industry. You rely on subcontractors for executing your work while payments from your clients tend to come at a later stage, and sometimes after an event. Therefore knowing and planning your cash position at every moment, present and future, is of utmost importance and is critical to you being able to execute and deliver on the services you’re selling.

 

I hope this answers your question.

Badr

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Hi Mr. Jafar, I own an e-commerce start-up and we’re starting to grow steadily, but I’m having trouble attracting people with the right skills to such a new company. Can you please suggest ways I can bring it the best team without having a A-list reputation? Thank you, Khalid

Dear Khalid, This is a real challenge that many start-ups face in the UAE. Thankfully, with growing interest and an improving entrepreneurship ecosystem...

Dear Khalid,

 

This is a real challenge that many start-ups face in the UAE. Thankfully, with growing interest and an improving entrepreneurship ecosystem, chances of finding people with a similar mindset are better now than ever before.

 

And that is exactly what you need: people with a real interest in being entrepreneurial who are willing to take a risk in joining a start-up for the opportunity to be part of something big, something they can be proud of. Typically, such people can be attracted at a lower cost than usual if they’re provided with a compensation mechanism that is tied to the growth and success of the company. Additional compensation could be in the form of profit share, or bonuses based on milestones.

 

In addition to taking the regular route of finding employees, you should also expose yourself and your business to any and all sorts of entrepreneurial events and venues where you can network and interact with like-minded people. Events like Arabnet or venues like The Impact Hub or Make Café are where you’re likely to find potential candidates.

 

Happy talent hunting!

Badr

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I'm 24, working and living in Beirut as an event coordinator, handling business conferences across the Gulf Region, Turkey and Switzerland. I earn roughly USD850/month. My goal is to start-up a small business in the UAE, either in Fujairah or Sharjah to be precise; a pharmacy with some unique services that are currently not provided by pharmacies already established there. Given what I'm currently earning, do you think I would ever be able to achieve this goal? Where would I get the funding from? What guarantees my success and how well connected should I be to pull this off?

Dear Khalil, You ask very valid and reasonable questions to which there unfortunately aren’t any ‘silver bullet’ answers. To answer your first question...

Dear Khalil,

 

You ask very valid and reasonable questions to which there unfortunately aren’t any ‘silver bullet’ answers. To answer your first question, achieving your goal is really entirely up to you. Is it possible? Absolutely! How? First and foremost, you need to be fully convinced with the uniqueness of your idea and have done your homework. Put your idea down on paper, research your target market thoroughly (visiting as many of the existing pharmacies in the Emirates you are targeting as you can), and understand the basic financials behind the business. By doing this you’re serving a dual purpose: firstly you’ll have a basis on which to decide for yourself whether the business is viable or not; and secondly, you’ll show any potential investors that you’ve really done your due diligence and are able to convince them that it’s a viable business.

 

This brings us to your question about funding. Generally most small startups in our Region begin with seed money from personal savings and/or family and friends support; something to get the business going and to provide a proof of concept. Whether this seed money is available or not, you’ll need to build up a network of potential strategic investors and/or partners. This requires networking with people from the industry you’re targeting by going to any events, conferences, social gatherings, and anywhere you can find people that are interested in your idea or are running similar businesses. You may also try entering business plan competitions, startup weekends, crowd funding platforms, startup incubators, etc… Even if you don’t find the funding required from these sources, you will get very valuable feedback and connections that will help you shape your idea and eventually achieve your goal. Which, to answer your last question, never is and can never be guaranteed! Just make sure you’re never afraid of asking questions, asking for help, and most importantly, never be afraid of failing. Nothing gets you more ready for your next venture than failure. As Winston Churchill once said “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”.

 

Best of luck Khalil,

Badr

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This Month's Topic
The art of networking: Developing and maintaining relationships are a key aspect of entrepreneurship and business in general. But forging and developing the right partnerships for you and your business is not straightforward. Networking is often the best way to meet those who could help your SME grow, but what is the best way to go about it? Should you have a structured game-plan? How do you know you’re going to the right events? What can you expect from these relationships? Badr Jafar is ready to share his thoughts on successful networking and will answer your questions about how best to master this art.
Last Month's Topic
Marketing your start-up: No matter how good your business model, it’s unlikely to succeed if people don’t know about it. Marketing is essential for start-ups, but can be something of a minefield. What’s the best method of advertising? How has digital media changed the game? Where can you find brand ambassadors? What qualities should a communications company have? Badr will answer questions to help guide you through the complex world of marketing in order to get your business more visible.

Every entrepreneur needs a helping hand. With so many aspects of business to untangle, understand, and master, expert advice is not simply a bonus – it’s essential.

With that in mind, Arabian Business has teamed up with one of the region’s most prominent and successful entrepreneurs and business leaders to give you invaluable one-on-one information and advice.

CEO of Crescent Enterprises and Emirati serial entrepreneur Badr Jafar will host the Arabian Business Entrepreneurs Clinic, answering your questions about the things that matter most to you.

As well as CEO of Crescent Enterprises, Jafar is also MD of the Crescent Group, President of Crescent Petroleum, founder of the UN’s Pearl Initiative, board member of Education for Employment, member of the Synergos Arab World Social Innovators Program Board of Governors, founding board member of Endeavour UAE, and much more.

Active in higher education, the arts, and countless entrepreneurial projects, Jafar is also a board member of the Young Presidents’ Organisation, was honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and is vice-Chair of their Global Council of Energy Security.

Whether it’s funding, licenses, staffing, or any other aspect of starting and maintaining your own business venture, Jafar will hand-pick some of the most common, confusing, and pressing queries to answer from our inbox every month.

The current topic for the Entrepreneurs Clinic is ‘The Art of Networking’. Go ahead and ask away by clicking on the “Ask a Question” link above.

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