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The past decade has not only been a harbinger of improving lifestyle, comfort, and convenience for people, but it has also provided significant technological breakthroughs to companies, governments, social enterprises, and society in general. This decade continues to build technology to further expand horizons of businesses by enabling them to cater to a much wider customer base. Startups are at the forefront of this journey, and governments across the world understand and realize that startups are going to be a major contributor of growth and job creation for their economies. The whole world is moving online and it is difficult to imagine a company doing well without using technology. However, running a startup and deploying technology could be challenging, as it involves unprecedented expenses and could weigh heavily on your business. This article aims to showcase the seven most effective ways entrepreneurs in the Middle East can make use of in order to spare cash to reinvest for faster business growth.
The need for networking arises right from the time a startup begins to take baby steps and get registered. And it continues to have clear strategic and monetary advantages all the way until a business matures and even beyond. Whether you are a funded startup or bootstrapped, no startup has ever made it big just on the back of their founders. Typically, a startup consists of 2-4 founders. Even if they handle separate departments, they would still need outside resources. Knowing people who are experts in their fields and people who they can approach for advice always helps as it can save them tons of money when it counts the most. Startups can save on legal advice, business incorporation costs, patents and trademarks, and many more expenses if they have a good network of friends and advisors who can point them in the right direction.
2. Setting up a virtual office or a conventional cost-effective office
Right after a startup has been incorporated, the very next step is to set up the office. This is largely going to depend on where your customers are going to come from. If your customers mostly find you online, you might as well set up a cost effective virtual office with a company address in a business center, with options like ABCN and Star. You can always move into a bigger space as the team expands and as you begin to get more business from customers. If you decide to set up your office by taking the premises on rent, you may want to save up furniture costs- Dubizzle is a good option for helping with the same.
3. Getting a website within budget
The third most important factor in setting up a successful business is to have a nice and professional looking website at a good price. When I started Buyessay back in 2013, it was bootstrapped and I was on a shoestring budget. I got the website designed and developed within my budget by outsourcing it to this site, on a friend’s recommendation.
4. Get the word out cost-effectively
Since you now have a running business with a website, you need to make people aware of your brand. This could be a very capital-intensive exercise, as there are various ways to advertise, but most of them are expensive. This is where you can strike partnerships with other businesses and make mutual marketing and advertising based arrangements with them. You could also form partnerships based on exchanging products and services with your partners. Get nicely designed and engaging business cards and drop them in shops and establishments where you think your prospective customers could visit. Social media is another very cost-effective channel. Twitter and Facebook have a wide reach and you would be surprised to see the response if you have not taken any shortcuts with your product or service, as these platforms can only help you sell if your product is good.
5. Recruiting using word of mouth/website page- if at all
If your business gets to the point where you may need to start recruiting, use your contacts to help you find the right talent instead of using services of expensive consultants or buying paid job-posting packages. You can simply create a webpage on your website advertising the vacant positions. Use forums and blogs to advertise your positions for free.
6. Get people involved
A business is only as good as its people because businesses are built on and around people. If you are a startup, this may be the best thing you could do. Partner with employees and offer them ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans) instead of an all cash deal. Partner with suppliers & vendors and most importantly, partner with customers and try to give them something back for their purchases. This would go a long way not just in keeping them involved, but also in building a solid people friendly brand. This would also earn you loyal customers who would stick to you in for the long haul.
7. Keep learning
This is perhaps the most important strategy that can save you millions. As a founder of a startup, the least you could do is to always keep upgrading yourself. Your employees and associates would only look up to you for inspiration if you are a hustler and have built the business tenaciously. Whether it is business-based challenges, employee issues, customer specific problems or changing market dynamics; if you keep upgrading your knowledge and skills, nothing can stop you from growing your business.