Five Minutes With Entrepreneur Omar Al Busaidy, Co-founder, W Gents Salon
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Omar Al Busaidy has a lot of roles under his belt: he’s the Acting Tourism Investment Promotion Manager & Sponsorship Manager of Manchester City FC at Tourism & Culture Authority Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, and the author of ebook Just Read It. With a background in banking, tourism, trade and investment, Al Busaidy and his co-founder Wael Ziad Al Haj opened W Gents Salon in Jumeirah Lake Towers. “This is a business that we knew that if we had the right location, the right service and at the right price, we could certainly make it big,” says Al Busaidy. He adds, “Our USP is the attitude of the team in the salon and the ambience that we’ve created when you walk into the salon.”
When asked about how he balances his corporate job with his own venture, the 29-year-old credits it to having a great relationship with Al Haj, and division of labor. “He is at the salon majority of the time, ensuring that business is as usual,” Al Busaidy explains. “I get involved solely in the marketing and PR for the salon, which doesn’t consume a lot of time.” With reference to difficulties for ‘treps in the region, Al Busaidy says penetrating a crowded market is tough for startup enterprises, especially when there are companies in the same sector which are bigger in size. “It’s not about competing with them directly; it’s the unfortunate scenario of bigger companies taking majority or all of the share of the market”. In addition, he says “the fact that the client prefers to work or give priority to bigger companies hinder their own chances.” However, he regards MAKE Business Hub as an initiative that supports business endeavors in the region, mentioning how the place, workspace, ambience, and especially the people who come to it from different backgrounds, encourage entrepreneurs to work together and come up with solutions.
What are your top three tips for an entrepreneur to start a business in MENA?
Build relationships; it will take you a long way. Ignoring this will not even get you off the ground because we live in a high context cultural environment and building trust and credibility is on the top of the pyramid when wanting to do business in the MENA region.
Second, research is absolutely crucial. Many people that I talk to take this for granted and feel that they know just enough to get started. You can never be too sure, in some industries there is a lack of transparency and sometimes the rules and regulations aren’t that clear which could take you back ten steps when wanting to start your business.
Third, differentiation, many startups imitate and don’t innovate, we see that with many businesses especially in food and fashion. If you want to have a loyal customer base, you need to be innovative and creative so as to stand out from the crowd.
Being a speaker on entrepreneurship and leadership to universities, how do you motivate students to pursue future ventures?
Aside from the motivational talks, the youth appreciate practical help where I have sat with many of them to work on business plans and other projects. Once they discover that there are people out there that will stand by them through and through, they make the equal effort to do something great.
What were the biggest lessons from your endeavors?
Perseverance is one thing I took out from my endeavors. I am fortunate that I was always reminded that if you can accept profits, you should accept losses, and that made me keep going even if I hadn’t succeeded. Keeping the right circle of friends and people who genuinely want to see you succeed is [also] very important because you cannot do it on your own. I discovered this especially during times when I needed help and I was on the verge of losing everything that I worked so hard for. And last but not least attitude, as Scott Hamilton [author of Landing It] once said, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” There are situations and there are issues. You will face situations every day, but it’s your attitude that determines whether the situation becomes an issue or not.