A new beginning

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What happens when you decide to take skill and passion to the next level? How do you take that entrepreneurial leap? Jose Santiago, who holds the International Certificate in Wealth Management offers advice

Mahra spent 15 years working her way up from office assistant to Senior VP Marketing and Communications but it wasn’t enough. She wanted to spread her wings and bring her passion and dream together to create a winning combination. Known as the ‘Photography Queen’ amongst her peers, Mahra had spent years clicking photographs of unique landscapes and wanted to find a way to make a living with her skill.

But starting a business requires a different frame of mind because the challenges that she will face as the entrepreneur are different. Passing the buck is not an option any more. She is where all questions come to. She has to think of every concept, aspect and nuance. Everything is her responsibility. And to do this, Mahra has to answer the following questions and take these steps:

1) What do I do? How do I go about doing it? Who do I talk to? What financial resources do I need? Where do I get them? Are there organisations to help women entrepreneurs? How much help can I get from them? And most of all, how much working capital is required to start the venture?

2) Research and Planning- Mahra needs to have every scrap of information about her business. Key details on her product or service, her target market, competitors, trends, potential clients, risk forecasts and much more. As the age old saying goes ‘Knowledge is Power’.

3) Create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)- This is critical to maintaining a business. Mahra must find what makes her unique because she exists to add value to her customers.

4) Expert advice- Mahra must surround herself with people who are proficient in areas that she is not. This helps her concentrate on her areas of expertise and pick up tips from the others.

5) Connect- Building a network of associates and prospects is key. The buzzword for Mahra is ‘Network’. Joining groups such as BNI, Referral Institute and such are helpful.

And, financially, what does it take? Obtaining the license for the UAE: around AED 30,000
Branding and company identity: around AED 15,000 – AED 20,000.
Advertising, marketing and business development: around AED 20,000

Three to four month’s working capital since it is unlikely for her to be able to generate income during that time.

Is she wishes to set up a Free Zone business, she would need between AED 70,000 – AED 100,000 but if she wants to set up an LLC, she would have to invest a bit more and change to a 49/51% ownership as opposed to 100% with the first option.

And finally, another aspect Mahra can look into is the many institutions that cater to women in business. The concept behind these is to provide information, guidance and expert services and all stages of enterprise development. Some of them are:

1. CEO Club Network, Women Division
2. IBWG – International Business Women Group
3. Arab WomenPreneurs
4. Dubai Business Women Council
5. Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council
6. Emirates Business Women Council
7. Kaasdir

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