Entrepreneurship has been one of the most rewarding and exhausting journeys for me. Like most experiences in life, I learnt my lessons through trial and error and by seeking advice from my mentors. As some might be pondering the entrepreneurship track this year, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Find your niche
As great as your business may sound to you, it must be beneficial in one way or another to your customers. What problem is your business solving? How does it improve the lives of customers? And how does it make the community better?
Many of the businesses that shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic did so because they didn’t invest in digital infrastructure or grow online communities that would have helped them serve their customers amid lockdowns. Social media and digital tools can help you rapidly build an online presence. Starting with an online presence only is also very cost efficient and you can then expand to have a physical presence, including pop-ups from time to time.
Networking is key
We have a saying in Arabic that translates to: “You can’t clap with one hand.” Growing up, I was an extremely shy person, but pursuing entrepreneurship encouraged me to step out of my shell and connect with people. You would be surprised by how many people are willing to support and help. Though networking events usually take place physically, luckily professional networking also takes place online, such as on Twitter Spaces or LinkedIn.
Collaborations help you grow
While you can achieve your target with the help of your team, you would get there faster by collaborating or partnering with other entities. For instance, if you are in the art industry and planning an event, approach an art space that would be willing to collaborate with you to host your event. That way, you may get the space free of charge and tap the art space’s audience. Think of on-boarding other partners that can help cover other costs. For instance, as an art event organiser, you may partner with media companies in exchange of covering the event, and team up with a leading printing house that can cover the expenses of any printing for the event. What I appreciated most about collaboration over the years, is that it helps your business reach new heights faster, and it’s almost always a win-win for all partners on board.
Focus on PR and word of mouth
I always believe that advertising your business is easy. If you have the money, you can advertise anywhere and create a buzz. But that won’t necessarily help your business grow or boost your audience. Focus instead on word of mouth and public relations. That means having a media plan in place that highlights your business across different news outlets and talking to right people about your business. So instead of paying a random influencer with the highest number of followers to talk about your business, look for a credible influencer whose opinion matters to their followers. Ask them to present case studies and share their insights. I would also advise that you focus on engagement rather than the number of impressions. You want an influencer’s followers to be engaging with the content they share. That way you will have your content exposed to more audiences.
Networking, embracing technology and finding a niche can help those looking to start a business.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai