The valuable leadership lessons I learnt this year

It is crucial for entrepreneurs to take stock of the changes their business underwent over the past year

A photo of smiling Emirati businesswoman with laptop. Middle Eastern professional in traditional arab attire of abaya and hijab. She is sitting at conference table. Office worker is looking away while working in brightly lit office.Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Powered by automated translation

After nearly two years of navigating uncharted waters, my business approached the shorelines of safety in January.

Schools reopened, employees resumed work from their offices and many took their first summer holiday since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although I have been on the entrepreneurship wagon for more than a decade, my business, as was the case with other companies worldwide, underwent the most changes in the past two years.

We cancelled services, offered new ones and built a new model for some of our product offerings.

We knew that if we didn’t pivot, we would fall behind and, therefore, evolved with our customers’ changes in consumption patterns.

In December, I reflect on everything my business went through in the past 12 months and look back at the valuable lessons that I will carry through towards, what I believe will be, an optimistic 2023.

You can’t fly solo

My mother once told me that entrepreneurship is a journey you can’t traverse on your own.

When I first ventured into entrepreneurship, I handled most things that I was good at, such as website development, social media management and even customer service.

But as my business evolved, I realised that taking tasks off my plate would free up time for me to focus on my creative genius.

The past two years presented unexpected challenges, which made it even more necessary to delegate tasks and focus on strategy.

There will always be people who are better than you, so let them focus on their areas of expertise while you focus on your genius zone.

Focus on what works

When you are planning for your business, it is natural to want to offer as many services and products to your customers.

“The more, the merrier” was my philosophy until the extra weight pulled my business down.

Cut out the noise and focus on the product or service that is yielding the most profit. Once I did that, my team’s focus improved and we were able to serve our customers better.

It is best to be great at one or two things than being great at one and average at another.

You can never learn enough

When the pandemic hit, I questioned everything I had learnt. Although experienced, I was in uncharted territory and knew that I had to act fast.

This meant going back to school. I dedicated an hour every day to learning something new that would help me with managing my business during uncertain times.

Online learning institutions made the process convenient. I focused on e-commerce, artificial intelligence and new digital marketing trends.

As my business evolved, I realised that taking tasks off my plate would free up time for me to focus on my creative genius
Manar Al Hinai

The more I learnt, the more I was inspired by ideas to incorporate in my work.

My team and I decided to inculcate this habit into our work schedule and for all of us to dedicate an hour to learning every day.

In our weekly meetings, each of us would discuss something new we had learnt, our own human library initiative, as we like to call it.

No one can predict the future, so be ready

No matter how experienced we are, we can’t predict the future. The pandemic taught us that valuable lesson.

But what we can do is to have a ready and adaptive mindset.

I can confidently say that our work process has become more effective after we embraced change and adopted a creative approach to problem-solving.

Whatever 2023 has in store for us, we are mentally ready for it.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi

Updated: December 26, 2022, 4:00 AM