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Madness anyone? Let’s be bold and define madness in the context of entrepreneurship. Have you ever noticed how often in articles, speeches and pitches, the word that follows “startup” is “passion”? Are you an entrepreneur or an aspiring entrepreneur who has been told that without passion, you are set for failure? Have you ever looked up recipes for success to set up or scale up your startup and found out that the common ingredient was passion?
This is exactly what “entrepreneurial madness” is, meaning that indescribable tingly sensation is an indicator that common sense is about to leave the body. Passion is, in fact, an uncontrollable emotion that can blur the vision and weaken the decision-making process. Actually, passion in high doses and inappropriately channeled can be draining and kill the genius. So, how about shifting mindsets, changing the paradigm and considering that maybe, there is a more rational approach to entrepreneurship. For example, strategy.
Strategy in the context of our startup ecosystems
Our regional startup ecosystem is starting to show some substantial signs of development. In the UAE in particular, the number of incubators and accelerators is on the rise and a multitude of entrepreneurship events are taking place on a regular basis. And the offering keeps on growing at a fast pace. This is an exciting time for this new generation of millennials, who are craving to translate their life purpose into businesses to make a move, dare to take measured risks and make things happen. Yet, the hard truth about entrepreneurship is that many startups will fail. The bigger question is- how graceful is the failure and how impactful is the potential success? This is what makes the difference between a blossoming startup ecosystem and a mediocre one.
Our ambition as a country to become the next innovation hub by building our local capabilities, attracting talent and investments and defining our unique positioning as a thriving ecosystem, is magnetic. In fact, the UAE has this undeniable and proven history of making dreams and goals happen. The sky is the limit and nothing seems impossible here. It is this contagious drive and pursuit of excellence that constitutes the heartbeat of this country. And there is no reason for our entrepreneurship ecosystem to escape this rule.
Time to ask some hard questions- How can we complement and strengthen the existing support system to make it more tailored and accessible to entrepreneurs? What can we change or add to ensure that knowledge and resources are available on an equitable basis to all? How can we level the playing field and break the entrepreneurships bias?
In fact, there is so much genius to be leveraged in our region, and if we play the game better than anyone else, we can surely as a community rise to the challenge. And to be true to our intrinsic vision and values as enablers of change, we have the responsibility as cheerleaders, educators, business angels and investors, to empower all entrepreneurs in our region and build a community where we cultivate the hunger to succeed and destroy the fear of failure. We can only do that by sharing knowledge, demystifying entrepreneurship, breaking the glass ceiling and challenging the status quo.
It is not an opportunity to seize, it is an obligation to serve the community and provide tools and knowledge to these dreamers and doers.
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Debuting a solution
Entrepreneurs need help in establishing much clearer brand identities. They would also benefit from advice on defining their values and how this translates into omni channel strategies for the customer and employee experiences. Yes, a solid omnichannel strategy that is best suited to deliver on their customer proposition is key. It is by identifying and defining robust building blocks and monitoring mission-critical KPIs that we can make their success, although not guaranteed, at least automated and predictable.
Customer experience is another area that needs to be mastered and taught. And CX is not only about tacking the online reach out or the budgets to allocate to ad-words or social media ads. CX is about defining the desired customer experience based on behavioral economics that would enable the setup of control points that allow the entrepreneurs to recognize on an ongoing basis the areas that need his/her focus.
It is critical as well, to cultivate in them this nimbleness and flexibility when they are setting up their strategy as the ability to pivot and do some switch back strategies when needed, can save our entrepreneurs time, effort and money as well as increase the likelihood of navigating challenging economies.
Managing the cash flow and revenue streams is another important area of focus. Unless a startup is managing its financials wisely, the most genius ideas can soon become bitter memories. Identifying the key performance metrics to monitor and the potential impact of each investment is life-saving. Establishing the correlation between the customer acquisition cost, for example, and the lifetime value of the customer while straightforward is often neglected. A passionate entrepreneur will pay a considerable amount of money to a blogger to endorse his/her brand of service. A rational entrepreneur will assess the impact of the later on his/her key metrics.
On the same note, we hear a lot about the importance of a defined textbook business plan and while the latter is cool/trendy to have, startup experts know that a static document may not be helpful in mitigating the unforeseen risks inherent in a startup. On the other hand, defining a lean and flexible go-to-market strategy, coupled with iterative market testing for validation and adaptation, may be the best way to ascertain and respond to market assumptions.
Educating our entrepreneurs on the different types of entrepreneurial strategies and the impact and specificities of each on their startup is paramount. Are we trying to disrupt, are we executing a blue ocean strategy or are we choosing a value chain strategy where we are tying relevant partnerships with existing players in the market? Market sizing, the importance of having an advisory board from one side, and having successful mentors who have been there and done that, from another, and the list of the areas of focus that needs to be mastered and popularized is long.
In conclusion, I think it’s about time to share more knowledge and contribute more into making our startups ecosystem leaner and stronger. In an evolving world, where the rules of the games are changing at the speed of light, providing more access to resources and knowledge is one impactful way to foster innovation and build the generation of the future. And together, we can do that.
The entrepreneurial future is exciting. Are you part of it?
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