Faiyaz Chand and Nasrullah Chaudhry, co-founders of We Cash Any Car, their start-up that was recently acquired by Dubizzle, share some lessons of the road to acquisition
Today more and more people are beginning the journey of starting their own company. The days of people holding a corporate “job for life” are long gone, replaced by a shift towards a much more fluid work environment and a desire among a younger, more digital generation to break the mould and go it alone.
The UAE offers excellent opportunities for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, UAE start-ups secured $400m (AED1.47bn) of investment in 2017 – representing 84 percent of the total investment raised by regional start-ups last year. Recent initiatives in the UAE, such as the announcement of 100 percent foreign ownership and more attractive license fees in Emirates such as Ras Al Khaimah, can only serve to accelerate this trend.
While some of this is driven by the desire to “get rich quick”, the vast majority of people are looking to set up on their own to deliver flexibility – perhaps for child care or remote working – as well as the opportunity to become their own boss and pursue a dream.
This is a journey we ourselves started back in 2015, when we left the corporate world behind and began We Cash Any Car. With a small starting capital of AED15,000 and one employee, we have successfully built the company to the most active vehicle cash buying service in the UAE, recently having been acquired by Dubizzle, the largest motors platform in the UAE, and are in the process of expanding across the other emirates.
Two exceptional employees who take responsibility and are results-driven are be better than five mediocre wage collectors”
Here are some key pieces of advice for anyone looking to go it alone:
It is essential to have the right people around you who can support and lift you up when things get tough – which they will. Entrepreneurs need good people around them who can passionately engage in the enterprise and who can complement your own skill set. For us, as long-time friends and former colleagues at Dubizzle, we knew we had a shared vision and areas of expertise that would supplement the business.
Perhaps more importantly, we also knew we would challenge each other to make the right choices and drive the business in the right direction.
Remember, in this regard quality is always better than quantity. Two exceptional employees who share your vision, take responsibility and are results-driven are going to be better for your start-up than five mediocre pay-cheque collectors.
Having clearly defined goals allows our team to align ourselves so that we are all working for the common purpose. This creates an environment of collaboration and synergy which are all conducive to achieving the company’s set goals. Working with a team that is happy to be there, and happy to go the extra mile, is what helps to achieve targets.
One of the biggest mistakes people can make in business is the fruitless pursuit of money or wealth with no clear passion to act as a guiding compass.
Businesses run by owners who don’t love them may get off the ground, they may even fly, but eventually, they will crash and burn everyone involved. They may have had an excellent strategy, solid funding, and may have been operating in favourable market conditions, but what sets them apart from a successful business is a clear vision.
Vision takes immense thinking power and imagination to refine. Energy is difficult to harness, if the subject isn’t something that you love thinking about. Vision is what drives longevity which can only be achieved through sheer hard work. It’s a bumpy road to success and if you’re only in it half-heartedly, you won’t have the strength to hold on the whole way.
Quite often you will think you have an amazing idea. The more you think of it, the more excited you become and the more convinced you get that it is the future, the way forward. We call this the “mind pitch” (MP).
The MP is when you become emotionally attached to an idea you have, and it often occurs when you have pitched it to yourself for hours on end – for days, weeks and sometimes months.
The problem is that when you are too close to the idea, you do not think straight and can get boxed in, which is why they always say bounce ideas off of people. The entrepreneurial spirit inherently requires a massive dose of optimism and often that’s the very thing that can cloud your judgement.
Every idea we come up with at We Cash Any Car goes through what we call the “giving up process”, where we take each idea and ask: “What would it mean to the business if we gave up on this?”. This allows us to assess the business impact of the idea and removes the personal element.
And, importantly, if the idea is not going to benefit your business, be prepared to let it go and move onto the next one! Not every idea will drive your business forward and it is important to know which ones to drop so they do not drain your time, effort and investment – allowing you to focus on the ones that will deliver the best results.
It’s a bumpy road to success and if you’re only in it half-heartedly, you won’t have the strength to hold on the whole way”
There is a myth in the world of entrepreneurship that you can have it all – a balanced lifestyle with time for family and strong business growth. The reality is that this myth is just that, a myth. The truth is there is no such thing as work/life balance for entrepreneurs.
Working smart as opposed to overworking does not work in all industries and this is especially true in start-ups. In our experience, working obsessive hours is a requirement for success when starting on your own.
As an entrepreneur, you are ultimately responsible for all elements of the business, from risk management to customer acquisition. For that reason, you will always be thinking about one element of the business or another as the consequences ultimately fall on you and your business. Taking a conference call at 8pm on a Friday may seem rough but getting great ideas off the ground requires a fast pace and genuine dedication.
Once you start to move away from the traditional view of balance, accept the long hours and channel your energy in that period; the results will be amazing. In the long-run, you get more autonomy and responsibility, and you know that your work has a direct impact on the health of the business. On top of that, the camaraderie with your team and the satisfaction of building something from the ground up is unlike any other.
Fast forward to 2018 and all of that hard work paid off. We were lucky enough to come full circle and return to our roots when we were acquired by Dubizzle. In short: it’s worth it.