7 of the Most Important Tips for Founding a Startup in the UAE

Becoming an entrepreneur is no easy task, regardless of where you are founding your business. Locations such as the United Arab Emirates pose a number of common challenges for startup owners as well as several region-specific obstacles that you will need to overcome. However, if you are equipped with the right knowledge, then you will be able to lead your company to success.

Here are a few of the most important tips to keep in mind when establishing your startup in the UAE:

  1. Test and understand your vision.

visionWhether you are looking to provide innovative financial technology services or wish to debut a groundbreaking new product, you will need to develop a firm vision for your startup before you can launch. This task is important for all entrepreneurs, but particularly crucial if you intend to one day leave your day job to run your company full time.

Instead of resigning immediately upon deciding to establish your own company, you should first test your startup ideas for their market validity. Like many other popular UAE-based entrepreneurs before you, you will need to conduct research over the course of several months to determine how profitable your startup will be in the region. Once you complete this important step, you will be better equipped to bring your vision to life.

  1. Determine where investments will come from.

Most entrepreneurs will need to solicit investments in order to fund their startups. In the UAE, you will find countless avenues through which you can acquire important business capital.

Though many of the region’s entrepreneurs gain the support of outside investors, you may need to inject some of your own money into your business in order to get things moving. If you do plan on make your own investments, then you should set a maximum amount that you will contribute. This way, you will refrain from spending all of your savings on your startup.

Another common source that UAE entrepreneurs turn to for investments is family. Whether your parents contribute to important business expenses or your partner invests some of his or her own income, this type of support can play an instrumental role in the success of your startup.

  1. Find a free zone.

The UAE is home to a wide array of free zones that provide a wide array of benefits to budding entrepreneurs. If you are not a citizen of the UAE, and you set up shop in a free zone, then you can enjoy complete ownership of your company, an expedited startup process, and expanded leasing opportunities. Many Emirates also feature free zones that cater to the needs of startups in certain industries; this ensures that you will be able to find the right fit for your business.

However, if you are an entrepreneur from outside the UAE and you want to establish your startup outside of a free zone, then you will need to enlist the help of a UAE-based partner. Though this arrangement allows you to establish your startup anywhere, your local partner must own 51 percent of your company.

  1. Know the proper business etiquette.

handshakeIn the UAE, you must look beyond the most basic aspects of running a startup if you wish to lead your company to a successful future. When meeting with other businesspeople, consumers, and investors, you must follow the proper etiquette in order to make a good impression.

Introductions are one of the most important aspects of any business meeting in the UAE, so you should take extra care to show respect to the other people in the room. In addition, you will find that many of the region’s entrepreneurs and businesspeople display a mix of positivity and tact during meetings. Following this trend and assuming the same attitude during interactions with others will help you make better business connections.

  1. Grow your network.

Once you familiarize yourself with the correct etiquette to use in the UAE, you will need to put your knowledge to the test and expand your network. Most local business people forego traditional e-mail correspondence techniques in favor of in-person interactions such as live networking events, business groups, and industry conferences. It is imperative that you participate in these types of meetings in order to connect with new professionals and generate important word-of-mouth advertising for your startup.

  1. Get to know your customer.

With your business plan and financing in place, you will need to turn your attention to marketing. However, you will not be able to publish effective advertising materials without first understanding the customers within your market. As with any region, the UAE is full of consumers who possess an entirely unique culture and set of values that you must get to know as a startup owner.

Those who live in the UAE generally place heavy emphasis on family over the individual and make purchasing decisions based on religious views. While the majority of UAE residents consistently seek high-quality items at the lowest prices, only the men tend to purchase higher-end products, while women typically focus more on items that benefit the household. Knowing each of these UAE-specific consumer habits will help you make the most out of your startup’s marketing campaign.

  1. Understand the sacrifices.

All entrepreneurs, regardless of where they establish their startups, will need to make sacrifices during their company’s earliest days, and one of the most common sacrifice is money. For example, many entrepreneurs elect to forego the financial security of their day jobs in order to work at their startups.

Because the UAE is a particularly expensive location for budding companies, you must be ready to make monetary sacrifices for the sake of your startup. In addition, operating your own business requires you to work more hours than you did at your day job. Though you may need to leave behind your previous lifestyle, your passion for your startup will be its own reward.