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Wed 13 Jul 2016 01:56 PM

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10 things to know when starting a business in the UAE

Tanaz Dizadji, founder and CEO of insydo, a Dubai-based digital start-up, shines a spotlight on how decision-making process evolves as a start-up grows

10 things to know when starting a business in the UAE
Dizadji’s insydo is an online guide to the UAE offering unbiased reviews.

Not everyone is cut out or crazy enough to see a start-up venture through to a point of success. It is an on-going endurance race that will test your commitment, your agility and your perseverance. You’ve got to be hungry for it: you’ve got to sleep, eat and breathe a can-do attitude while fighting through the noise of competition.

I’m no superhero, but I am a lifelong Marvel fanatic, and I see a lot of similarities between the Marvel universe and the world of digital start-ups.

You have to wake up ready for anything, be strong in the face of adversity and be willing to swap your personal life for your superhero mentality as real-time passes you by. It will pay off… eventually!

With that said, here are my top 10 tips for translating your start-up adventure into a start-up success story:

Leave the CEO title at the door

It is a self-awarded accolade of premature achievement. Frankly speaking, when building your start-up, the title of CEO is meaningless. It is the Founder in you that should flourish.

While a CEO delegates, a Founder creates.

They should be restless, resilient and resourceful in their approach to working from the ground up. Get ready to juggle company admin, hand over your office – and sometimes your lunch – to members of the team. As the Founder of a young tech company, getting your hands dirty is a prerequisite.

Be a chameleon

The mistake many leaders make – we have all experienced it – is to think that a militant, cut-throat approach to management is the only way to get the job done.

The key, however, is to understand others; be diverse in your leadership styles and embrace your EQ. When you understand yourself, you can influence yourself; equally, when you understand others, you can influence others.

Hire people who are smarter than you

It makes business sense. Your focus is to build a team of go-getters who believe in what you do. You will need to harness talent and embrace opportunities to learn from members of your team at a frantic pace. Be inquisitive and gain respect by challenging and encouraging healthy debate.

Motivate the Millennials

Millennials are divas; their expectations of creativity in the workplace are shaped by a techie upbringing.

Typically, the only baggage they will be carrying is a travel backpack. These big dreamers are suited to the start-up world, which is exactly what you need when you are working around the clock.

Be warned: the pressure is on you to offer them an enriching life experience… in your four-walled office.

Never harbour negativity

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is underestimating the power of positivity and, consequently, the power of people. Your company will become the bi-product of the people you surround yourself with. If you find yourself battling with negative attitudes, remember: it is contagious and will ultimately kill the soul of your start-up.

Work on your poker face

When some challenges happen, and they will happen – everyday, you will need to be ready to react. Staying calm in the face of adversity is critical and being decisive is key.

Ladies, avoid tears in the office - especially if leading a team of men. Rather than panic, ask key questions and work with your team to map out a collective solution.

Breathe energy

Let’s face it, no one wants to work for a …

And if you have thrust yourself into the start-up world, you should be exploding with positivity and bouncing with energy.

With that said, no matter how tired or stressed you feel, you will need to mask it rather than moan about it.

Yes, we all need sleep for clarity, but your energy is a by-product of your passion, and this should always shine through… even when things go wrong at 3am.

Don’t strive for perfection

While Iron Man is arrogant, Super T – that’s my alter-ego by the way – is extremely impatient… And I’m always paying the price for it.

In fact, we probably would have launched three months earlier had I not overcomplicated things. Having X amount of features and changing an icon to blue (and then back to red) may seem important, but you have to be realistic with team targets and time frames.

Stick with a solid base and work towards it: everything else should go on the wish list. What is addictive and exciting about the digital world is that it is constantly evolving – you will never be done.

Don’t sell it all at once

You are excited about your product. You have so many cool features. Whatever their need, you have the solution.

Whilst this may be true, they simple can’t digest it all. You’d be amazed how many adjectives I can squeeze into a sentence about insydo. In fact, I have first-hand experience of how mortifying it is to be told by an investor to calm down.

It may be an old cliché that less is more, but when it comes to describing your product, it seems to be the case. We shared our USPs with our target audience and listened to what was important for them. Their feedback became the basis of our marketing.

Connect the dots

Critical to the success of your start-up is the ability to build bridges between the respective areas of your business. If departments, or individuals, work in isolation, the detachment will lead to problems, whether between back-end and front-end or between the code and the content. Communication and cohesive strategies are essential to meeting your future goals and objectives.

Of course, this just scratches the surface of two years worth of self-learning, but it has been these key realisations that have crafted and moulded insydo thus far.

Top 10 tips for startupreneurs:

1. A startupreneur will create a company culture and cultivate a workplace that is conducive to success. Nothing should be below them; no task is too menial.

2. A startupreneur will assess how individuals respond to pressure; they will understand how to motivate and inspire confidence in every member of the team.

3. A startupreneur will exude a ravenous hunger to learn. They won’t have an answer for everything. Instead, they’ll place trust in their intuition and in the knowledge of their team.

4. A successful startupreneur will harness young talent by setting ambitious goals, creating opportunities for growth and surrounding themselves with a team of partners rather than employees.

5. A successful startupreneur will filter out the complainers and build a team of go-getters, a team of real-life smilers.

6. A startupreneur will prioritise, plan and project a composed exterior. They will show initiative and reassure their team that obstacles can be overcome with strategic direction.

7. A startupreneur will inject their team with momentum and energy. Trust me, it is contagious.

8. A startupreneur will get their product out there and track user behaviour via Google Analytics. After all, until launch, you are making a lot of assumptions.

9. A startupreneur will be selective in their marketing and reduce the risk of going off track or trying to emulate a big brand.

10. A startupreneur will embrace enterprise architecture; they’ll look at the bigger picture and adopt a holistic approach to company structure and strategy.

About Tanaz Dizadji:

As the founder and CEO of insydo, Tanaz uses her background in marketing, finance and tech to build a search-centric product that provides people with curated recommendations and the best businesses in the city.

Graduating with a BSc in Accounting and Finance from the University of Warwick, Tanaz started her career as a chartered accountant in investment management at PwC in London.

Before delving into the world of technology, Tanaz was the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Omnicom Media Group and led philanthropic and artistic projects for the Elephant Parade and START.