I'm going to make it on my own
Window-film installer wants to start his own business before it becomes too late As life progresses, your attitude towards money changes and things that once were important become less so, and vice versa. I am 27 years old and, although I'm still young, I feel I am now fully prepared to put my father's sound advice and my money-making skills to the test as I start out with my new business venture in Dubai.
Privately educated until A-Levels, I went to Amersham & Wycombe College (in the UK) to study multimedia. At that time, I had aspirations of being a 3D animator, but after freelancing on a few projects, I found the time invested didn't match the reward or my ambition. After college in 2003, I went to Singapore to work as a window-film installer, but also took some time to travel around Asia. Returning home to the UK in late 2003, I worked full time in a similar role and was sent abroad to manage projects in places such as Japan, Africa, Europe and the UAE.
Eventually, in November 2007, I moved to Dubai to work for my father's window-film installation and supply company, Pentagon International, where I gained experience in all areas of the business. Now, I am in the process of starting my own business that covers window-film installations for residential properties. During my childhood, my father was very successful with his business. Although I wasn't spoilt, I perhaps didn't appreciate the value of money as much as others. That said, as a teenager I worked a paper round earning Dh30 a weekend. At Christmas, the majority of houses would leave generous tips, which usually amounted to more than Dh500.
My biggest role model is my father, who has achieved a great deal of professional and financial success in his life. He always worked hard and maintained an honest approach, despite the limited opportunities available to him during this youth. Having even 10 per cent of my father's work ethic and ambition would see to it that I succeed in life. Before life gets risky and I have too many other responsibilities in life, I want to start up on my own. This will be my first time as a business owner, but having run the Dubai office for the family business, I am confident I have acquired enough skills to manage all areas.
The company that I am setting up in Dubai also specialises in window-film installations. Film is a layer of plastic that can be applied to existing glass on the inside, which changes the properties of that glass in terms of light transmission, blocking heat, rejecting UV and reducing glare. Offering these products to regular homeowners, rather than building managers, is a much more personal experience as it involves helping my clients save money in the long term.
Window film saves money by reducing the amount of heat coming into a building through the glass. Only a few degrees in temperature reduction can have save up to 30 per cent in cooling costs. I am currently at the stage where I need to find the capital for my business. The aim is to register the company and to stand on my own two feet within three months. Assuming all goes to plan, I would use the generated profits to provide the capital for the business.
To register my company with the Ras al Khaimah Free Zone, it will cost me Dh15,000 and to hire someone to do the paperwork for me would cost an additional Dh5,000. Getting a residence visa will bring the total to Dh25,000 plus. I think it's fairly difficult to get a bank loan in the UAE when you are self employed; I did look into that a few months ago but without luck. My attitude towards money has changed a fair amount since I moved to Dubai. With rent such a huge burden, it has forced me to learn how to effectively manage my accounts. Last month, I moved to a one-bed flat in the Marina Quays in Dubai, which is Dh80,000 per year.
It took me a while to find a landlord willing to accept an offer of four cheques, instead of one or two, which still leaves a large amount to pay upfront if you take into consideration agency fees, deposits and moving charges.
At the start of last year, I gave what savings I had to my father. He has invested this money into the stock market and we have doubled the money in one year. Although I am tempted to use this money for business capital, it makes more sense to keep it generating money for my future for another five years or so. I think that although people can live happily with little money, life is a whole lot more enjoyable when you have a lot of it.
With more money comes the ability to have more fun, go on adventures, experience culture, to get an education and to generally have a better quality of life. * As told to Louisa Stevens
Published: June 26, 2010 04:00 AM