Small and medium enterprises play a major role in global economies.
According to the World Bank, SMEs represent 90 per cent of businesses and more than 50 per cent of employment worldwide, while they contribute about 40 per cent to emerging countries' gross domestic product.
The World Bank estimates that 600 million jobs will be needed by 2030. This means that SMEs' role in employing the future generation and the support the sector needs from the government, public and private entities become more crucial.
SMEs represent more than 94 per cent of the companies operating in the UAE and employ more than 86 per cent of the country’s private sector workforce.
The development of the SME sector is a priority for the UAE government as it aims to double the size of the economy by 2031.
Last week, the Ministry of Economy, and the Government Development and the Future Office organised an event to sign strategic partnerships with the private sector to support the UAE’s Future 100 Initiative.
The initiative will honour and support SMEs that contribute to the UAE’s future economic sectors, and is in line with the UAE’s goal of becoming a hub to 20 start-ups valued at more than $1 billion by 2031.
Building a start-up is no easy feat, especially if entrepreneurs aim to play a major role in helping to develop the UAE’s economy and grow their business to be a $1 billion enterprise in the next eight years.
However, following the right steps and mindset will increase their chances of success.
The first step is to find a problem that needs solving. Most successful businesses were able to develop and grow because they continued to solve a problem for their customers.
This is why I strongly urge aspiring entrepreneurs to take their time and research what their customers need and what gaps their business can fill. This is a process that shouldn’t be rushed.
A support group and a mentor will help you to reach your targets faster. There is only so much any of us know, no matter how intelligent or well-rounded we are.
As you build your start-up, build a support group of experts and mentors you can reach out to for advice and consultation.
Their insights could help to accelerate your growth and save you unnecessary headaches – and often, thousands of dollars.
Invest in a strong team. Just as a business idea needs to be thoroughly researched, so does building your team.
Hire team members with complementary skills. Look for team members who believe in your vision for your company and are equally passionate about building it.
Sacrifice is part of the process. Building a business requires money and lots of your time. Keeping this in mind will help to ease the process.
Last but not least, the difference between those who make it and those who don’t sometimes simply boils down to persistence.
For example, I am an impatient person by nature. I found it extremely challenging to wait for results when I was building my business, but the result was worth it.
As with anything worthwhile in life, greatness takes time and dedication.
The UAE is home to some of the best mentorship and funding programmes.
If entrepreneurs set their minds to it, they can build businesses that positively impact the world – and we could have more than 20 start-ups valued at $1 billion by 2031.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications adviser based in Abu Dhabi.