Steps to consider before taking the start-up route

There is more to creating a successful business than passion and drive

Young entrepreneurs discuss in their office, in a building offered by Eurobank's startup accelerator programme EGG in Athens, Greece, February 22, 2018. Picture taken February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
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When it comes to becoming a great entrepreneur, the sky is the limit. You don't need a degree in business, and you most certainly don't need to come from a family of businessmen. What you really need is the passion and determination to see it through.

If you are at the start-up stage, or planning to become an entrepreneur, then you most likely have the passion already, but do not know where to begin.  

The following steps can help turn an idea into your dream business.

A one-to-one session with yourself

Why do you want to start a business? Is it because you need extra money? Is it because you believe that your product will improve the lives of many? Or is it because you want to be your own boss? You need to be brutally honest with yourself. Then determine if you have what it takes such as: What are you passionate about? How much money do you have set aside? Do you see yourself doing this for the long run? 


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Conduct market research

Are there other businesses doing what you plan to do? If there is, how will you distinguish yourself? How will your business help your community? And most importantly, will people be interested in your business?  

It's important to not limit yourself to one research type. For example, don't depend solely on surveys, ask people other than your family members to participate. Conduct online and offline research, or host a focus group.

Test your business

Before you launch your business, put it to the test. If you have a product, this is the part where a focus group comes in handy. Let people interact with your product and service and seek their feedback. Interactions from those who don't know your product can point out an issue you have missed. Take their feedback, improve your offering and put it to the test again. This could take a while but remember it's best to improve your product first with a small group of people before officially launching it and then having to deal with negative comments from a wide range of audience.

Develop your business plan

I see many entrepreneurs skip this crucial phase. A business plan is a document that describes how your business will evolve from its start to the next three to five years. It's not stagnant but will need updating as you go along. You should include: your business description; market analysis; competitive analysis; marketing strategy and your financing strategy.

Get some mentors onboard

You could do this in several ways, either by working with a mentor one-on-one or working with an incubator such as Sheraa in Sharjah that will help you develop the business. A mentor is like your sounding board and their expertise will help you avoid errors many start-ups and entrepreneurs fall into.

Scout a location

This could mean an online presence only, or an office, or a store. This will differ according to your operation's needs, as well as customers. But things to consider include: whether your operation needs to have a physical store or not; accessibility and parking for customers; competition's location; rent cost and utility bills; as well as proximity to your target audience.

Tie the knot

Last but not least, before you launch your business, get all the legal aspects out of the way to avoid any negative implications, and it's best to consult a lawyer.

Make sure to register your business, get all the necessary licences, set up a business bank account and register all patents, trademarks and copyrights.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her creative consultancy in Abu Dhabi