As the new year rolls in this week, it will be extra special for us Emiratis and residents of the UAE. After seven long years of waiting, the much-anticipated world fair, Expo 2020, will see the light in Dubai, bringing together more than 180 countries to explore and share ideas and innovations.
The next 12 months have also been earmarked to be the year of preparations for the next 50 years in the UAE. On his Twitter account, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced: "We will develop our plans, projects and thinking. Fifty years ago, our founding fathers designed our lives today. So, we want next year to design the future of generations to come in the next fifty years."
Sheikh Mohammed also announced that 2020 will be the year when developments will be made across the education, infrastructure, health and media sectors. He wrote: "We want 2020's atmosphere to be similar to that of in 1970 when our founding fathers and their teams were preparing to embark on a new stage and new life."
The UAE is known for its strategic planning, and early adoption of innovation. This is one of the reasons that led it to become a pioneer across many sectors. Sheikh Mohammed’s announcement of the work, effort and expectations of next year, reminds us of the importance of planning ahead, for years and years to come, and this is especially important for any young entrepreneurs planning to launch their own businesses.
An inforgraphic by Online Schools Centre highlighted that 41 per cent of Americans who belong to Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2010) plan to start a business one day, while 45 per cent believed they will invent something that will change the world. But a study of 800 people by Australia's Queensland University of Technology published last year also found Gen Zs are less capable to handle uncertainty.
This makes planning ahead even more important for this age group.
I understand how some young entrepreneurs, eager to get started, might feel discouraged when asked to work on their business plans and financial projections. It's time-consuming, and they might be more excited about the working on the fun aspects such as designing logos. However, not only will preparing a business plan help them attract investors, it will also give them a better chance of success.
As with the case of the UAE, planning ahead provides you with room to identify the areas you need to focus on, understand your clients' needs, and gives you a road map to strive towards. This is a time when it's important to get your clients' feedback when planning a product or a service. Ask them about the features they would like or a service they think the market is lacking. Working on your business plan will also help you properly account for finances, allocate resources, and help stay in check.
I've also found that working on a business plan, either alone or alongside a consultant, could provide you with a new perspective on the idea you had in mind. What may sound great to you might not seem attractive to your target audience, and therefore you can tweak your idea, or come up with a new product or service altogether that will appeal to them, earn profit and save you money.
Last, but not least, planning is an exercise that cannot be rushed. The UAE has dedicated the whole of next year to planning, and that shows you the significance of time and not rushing things. Allowing yourself some time to plan, taking a break, and then looking at your plans again – while involving your stakeholders – will help achieve a more solid, sound plan. This leaves less room for uncertainty, especially when it comes to financials, and allows you to understand your audience and your competition in the market.
Think of planning as your GPS for business success. It could help you reach your destination faster, using the shortest route.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi.