Starting a business is like being on a rollercoaster ride- with no one operating the controls. You just do not know if you will make it in one piece. And the possibilities of disaster are too numerous to enumerate. The problem is that there are so many myths, half-truths and outright falsehoods doing the rounds that it is easy to be misled. Add to that the fact that most people who start their business are often overtly optimistic and operate under the misconception that all they need to succeed is a good idea.
They couldn’t be more wrong– business, particularly in a place like Dubai, which is a melting pot of different nationalities and cultures, is a very tough proposition. You need to tread carefully, and learn as you go. And if you know what not to do, chances are you will learn what to do more quickly. So, here’s a laundry list of the most common business mythsones that you, as an entrepreneur, should certainly not be entertaining:
MYTH 1 The UAE is a rich country; profits will come automatically
This is one of the most enduring myths about doing business in this region, particularly in Dubai and the UAE. First-time entrepreneurs often just assume that since the Gulf is flush with funds, the region is going to shower money on them, and that even half-baked ideas will result in profits in double-quick time. Nothing could be farther from the truth. People in Dubai have trust issues, and they do not fall for any and every idea. You need to convince them by hard work and good intentions. It takes time to build that kind of trust. Remember, you will not make money overnight.
MYTH 2 The customer is always right
Much as this has been propagated over the years, it is just not true. The customer is very important, but s/he is not always right. In fact, sometimes, s/he has to be told so. Sometimes, customers are so wrong that you have to take the tough decision of cutting them out, as they might be costing you more money than you make from them. Running a business at the whim of the customer will not make you a profitable company. This does not mean you stop seeing things from their point of view, or that you stop listening to them. It just means you have to be firm at times, make them see your point of view, and set realistic expectations for them.
MYTH 3 A good idea will result in profits from the word go
Please remember that no matter how good your idea is, it is very rare to make profits in the first year of business. It does happen sometimes, particularly if you are supported by a well-known company, or if you are the offshoot of an existing, profitable business. In that case, you are cashing in on the goodwill of the associate company. But if you have no such support, the journey is going to tough. One of the challenges in this part of the world is that you are not dealing with any one nationality. People from many cultures and thought processes operate here, and you have to invest time and build trust before you can break even, let alone make profits.
MYTH 4 If I know about it, I can make it work
Many startups operate on the premise that knowledge is power: if they are good at something, the business will turn out to be a success. This is a fallacy, and the sooner you junk this notion, the better. For instance, just because you are a good chef does not mean you can run a restaurant business profitably. Similarly, your interest in, and knowledge of sports, will not make you a whiz kid at running a sports venture. Your awesome fashion sense will not make your boutique sell clothes like hot cakes. You will also have to be involved in buying, budgeting, payroll, managing employees, taxes, and so forth. There are many aspects to running an enterprise, and you will be wise not to have any fancy notions of making it work on the basis of a cool attitude.
MYTH 5: If I work nonstop, I will surely achieve success
Working nonstop is not the magic mantra you need to be successful. You have to work smart, and not 24/7. In fact, if you overwork yourself, you are most likely to burn out and have no energy left to take crucial decisions. Just being busy does not give you a healthy bottom line; you have to be busy doing the right kind of things. While you will need to work hard, and there will definitely be periods of seriously intense work, you also need to balance that with good sleep, good food, plenty of movement, and some fun.
MYTH 6 If my product is cheap , I will beat the competition
This is a very common misconception. Pricing your product aggressively might work in the short run, but if it is not backed by quality, if you do not know how to market it, if the market is not ready for your offering, if you do not invest in your supply chain, if you do not motivate and reward your sales people, you will not succeed, no matter how cheap your product.
These are just some of the common business myths that people believe in. There are many more. Ultimately, you have to realize that starting a business is a big challenge. You will need to have a clear business plan that outlines your cash flow. You have to identify your customers, and make sure they are ready to pay the price you have set for your product or service. But you also have to be flexible. Your business plan should leave plenty of room for contingencies. Starting an enterprise is hard work, but if you are ready for it, and have realistic expectations, chances are you will be successful. Step into business with your eyes wide open and enjoy the journey.