Why the biggest obstacle for entrepreneurs is often themselves

First steps are the hardest but without them an entrepreneur can never get closer to success

Opportunity and resources abound in the UAE for aspiring entrepreneurs but founders need to be assertive in order to access them. Wam
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I recently watched a lecture by Greg Bradden, an American speaker and author whose work focuses on consciousness, where he presented a video on miraculous healing and the power of belief systems.

That reminded me of the works of Rhonda Byrne, author of the best-selling book The Secret, who advocates that we have to change in order to get what we want to see in ourselves and for our world around us to change we have got to alter our own belief system.

A few days ago, I worked with a client who wanted to see changes in her business. She had a valid trade licence, a great office overlooking the seashore, started her business with two big-name clients in her portfolio and she was equipped with all the knowledge she needed to succeed. And yet, she didn’t think she was successful, and managed to barely cover the costs of operating every month. She didn’t know what she was doing wrong, and she believed a new marketing strategy would help.

In our evaluation exercise, we reviewed her most recent business activities and assessed her needs. Though she had all the knowledge and expertise, one thing she clearly was not being was assertive.

What else wasn't she doing right? Well, plenty.

She took her sweet time replying to her clients’ requests. She wouldn’t attend any networking events. She didn’t actively approach potential clients, although she knew many friends and acquaintances who could be, or who knew those who could be her clients. But the most important thing she shared was that deep down she felt like a fraud, like she didn’t deserve to be a successful businesswoman.

Impostor Syndrome, also known as Fraud Syndrome, is a psychological behaviour where a person doubts his or her own achievements and constantly feels like a fraud. That was what my client was experiencing. It’s a common behavioural pattern that many entrepreneurs go through and I was one of those business people. I used to feel that way early on in my entrepreneurial career. At times, the belief was so strong that I felt I should quit my business and start something new altogether. But I knew that if I wanted to progress in my career, to see my goals through, I had to do something about it. Even the holy Quran teaches us that Allah Almighty does not change the condition of those who do not strive to change themselves.

Last week, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, launched Youth Hub, an initiative by The Federal Youth Authority. The programme provides free spaces across shopping malls and other areas, equipped with essential services and facilities such as mentorship and guidance. It aims to support young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 35 years to launch their own start-up companies in the next six months.

The UAE has become a regional hub for start-ups, with many facilities available to entrepreneurs. There are so many opportunities for financing, loans and grants. There are networking events to meet like-minded individuals. There are numerous trade and business events and workshops happening for budding businesses, offering them franchise options and opportunities to partner with overseas companies.

Potential entrepreneurs in the UAE have the right environment and support infrastructure they need to kick-start their entrepreneurial journey. Sometimes what’s holding us back as entrepreneurs is ourselves. An acquaintance of mine forever held a dream of starting her own floral business, but she didn’t believe she was quite ready yet. And guess what? She is still dreaming about it. She knows she has all the support infrastructure in place to start her venture, but she is holding herself back.

Who knows how many like her are out there, held back by themselves? How many great success stories are waiting to happen?

It is a fact that the first steps are usually the hardest, but they are inevitable and without them we can never get closer to achieving our goals. Sometimes, all it takes is for us to sit down and have an honest conversation with ourselves.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi