Money & Me: Dubai leadership entrepreneur invests in herself

Investing in your own education and personal development is key to your financial success, says entrepreneur Salma El Shurafa.

Salma El Shurafa is a spender who has worked to develop a saving habit. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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Salma El Shurafa is the founder of The Pathway Project, a leadership coaching business based in Dubai. The business draws on her 11 years of experience as a human resources professional and an executive coach. The Palestinian-Canadian, 32, grew up in Germany, the Palestinian Territories, Egypt and Canada, and has lived in the UAE for the past nine years.

Describe your financial journey so far.

At the start of my career, saving a portion of my pay cheque for a rainy day was not a priority. I was quite young when I got my first job and was paid a decent salary. At the end of each month I didn’t have much left, but I was fulfilled and I enjoyed every penny I spent. That worked just fine for me until the day I decided to become an entrepreneur at 25. I suddenly had to budget for office rent, employee pay cheques, utilities and marketing activities. Those were all in addition to my own personal expenses and paying myself any kind of salary. That key turning point shifted my attitude towards money. Now what mattered was to ensure my bills were paid at the end of each month so that my business could flourish. It was an experience that shaped me, fuelled my professional growth and helped me view money with a different mindset.

Are you a spender or saver?

The purpose of money is to spend it – clearly I am a spender. That said, I have learnt to set aside a certain percentage of my earnings, no matter what the current situation is, for future goals. One thing I don’t hesitate on is investing in things that aid my professional growth and help me add to my knowledge and skills. Nothing beats investing in yourself and your ability to create your own success, and consequently your own wealth, in the long term. That is something I preach to my clients as an executive coach, because you can’t overestimate the value of qualifications and personal development in a highly competitive and constantly evolving marketplace.

What is your philosophy towards money?

Enjoy what you have while you have it but prepare for the unexpected and save. To find a good balance I have a yearly budget that is broken down monthly to constrain my spending. But I also reward myself with gifts, as I think everyone needs to spoil themselves now and then and you should budget for this. When it comes to business, my approach is you either go big or go home, as it is my No 1 priority to ensure its growth. I had to make sacrifices and take some risks as an entrepreneur. I had to sit down and create detailed financial plans to make my business succeed, which is something I had to learn how to do and take some guidance on. If you need help and advice, you should definitely ask for it and not be shy.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

A few years ago I had credit card debt. The best decision I made was to pay it off as soon as possible to reduce my financial burden. You have to make mistakes to learn from them, and this was a lesson well learnt.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?

I would spend 5 per cent on shopping and 80 per cent on an apartment as an investment for the future. I would rent it out and save the income that comes in. As for the remaining 15 per cent, I would inject that into my business.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

Things I can experience. I love travelling and also enjoy spending money on personal development. Additionally, every dirham I spend on my company provides an opportunity for it to flourish.

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