7 Pieces of Advice for New Entrepreneurs in the Middle East

Despite the many gains achieved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Middle East in recent years, entrepreneurs continue to face a number of hurdles. While entrepreneurs have more support and greater access to funding than they’ve had in decades, they must still demonstrate the diligence and determination to turn their vision into reality. Entrepreneurship frequently involves learning from your failures and having the tenacity to try again even after things have gone off track yet again. One of the most important steps to success as an entrepreneur is developing a strong professional network of other entrepreneurs. Together, these individuals can learn from one another’s successes and failures and approach their own projects with a better understanding of how to make their businesses work. Here are some helpful tips that successful entrepreneurs have offered to individuals launching their first startups:

The best teams have both talent and the right attitude.

idea, team, lightblub

Business leaders understand that they are only as good as they teams that they assemble. By choosing people with the potential to become leaders themselves, entrepreneurs set themselves up for success. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs say that they strive to hire people they consider smarter than themselves. Employees need raw talent, but they also need the same drive and motivation as the entrepreneur. If the employees are not completely committed to the company and its growth, they will ultimately hurt the company no matter how brilliant they may be. Entrepreneurs cannot do everything alone, so they need to hire people whom they trust to carry out their vision with both skill and dedication.

Entrepreneurship involves continual self-reinvention.

After entrepreneurs realize a small degree of success, they may become complacent. In today’s rapidly changing business world, complacency leads to failure. Entrepreneurs never stop learning, and they must continually refine their approach to business based on the lessons that they receive throughout their career. Continual learning leads to the self-reinvention, which is needed to keep organizations fresh and competitive. Other companies in the market will also continue to evolve, making innovation and reinvention key to continued success.

Competing companies should be considered enablers.

goat competition headbutt

In the Middle East, some people view competitors as a reason not to enter a specific niche market. In reality, competitors typically do not steal business. On the contrary, they often help grow the overall market by making more people aware of it and, in the end, increase business. Entrepreneurs need to remain wary of big firm competitors who have more financial resources. In these situations, entrepreneurs can keep their companies competitive through cutting-edge policies that attract the best employees and the development of a strong brand.

Keep a focus on plan A, not plan B.

Too often, entrepreneurs waste their energy on developing plan B, which causes plan A to fail. Some industry experts would advise individuals to do away with plan B entirely since it only detracts from the primary goal. In order to realize success, entrepreneurs need a “do or perish” attitude. Only with this sort of approach will they make the sacrifices necessary to realize success. Entrepreneurs need to stay committed to their version 100 percent and forego failure as a viable option. To succeed, success must be the only option.

Stay in the present, but think about the future.

To sustain success, entrepreneurs need to think about how the market will change in the coming five years or even in the next decade. Thinking about the future will help entrepreneurs ensure that they stay competitive in a changing market. With a focus on the future, entrepreneurs can actually become leaders in their fields and guide the change in their respective markets toward what they envision. Of course, leadership involves not just believing in one’s own vision, but being able to convince others that the vision is valid.

Know the ins and outs of the industry.


Entrepreneurs do not need degrees to be successful. In fact, having a degree is no guarantee of success. What individuals do need is a deep understanding of the market and the industry, both its past and present. This understanding helps people gear their efforts toward the future and understand how their companies fit into the larger picture. Entrepreneurs need to dedicate an incredible amount of time to learning all the ins and outs of the industry and be relentless in the pursuit of new information.

Understand your market.

Some people think of the Middle East as a single economic region, but this is simply not true. Each country represents a unique market, and products and services do not always translate well across borders. Entrepreneurs need to understand what their particular market wants and expects, as well as how products and services can be translated to sell in other countries. Once an entrepreneur has conquered one market, it is natural to start expanding, which becomes easier if the business owner already has a sense of how to appeal to different markets. Often, by understanding what makes one’s own market different, that person already has an advantage when it comes to translating across national boundaries.