Adapt And Evolve: Matthew Thomas, Managing Director and Vice President at HP Middle East, Turkey, and East Africa
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Last year, we at Entrepreneur Middle East staged HP presents Never Stop Business, an event that saw more than 200 entrepreneurs and business owners come together for a forum that discussed challenges relating to running an enterprise in the UAE. The gathering was in line with the American multinational’s steadfast commitment to the MENA region, with Matthew Thomas, Managing Director and Vice President at HP Middle East, Turkey, and East Africa, noting that the company’s main focus in the region has been on delivering technology that ultimately simplifies business processes for startups and SMEs.
“HP continuously monitors the region’s trends and developments, which enables us to address the challenges by introducing the right products to the right markets,” Thomas says. “For this region, SMEs and startup culture is quite prominent, so it is essential to provide these organizations with products that are highly efficient and at affordable cost. With entrepreneurs in mind we’ve designed and introduced an innovation for SMEs in emerging markets, HP Neverstop, the world’s first cartridge-free laser printer that makes high quality print affordable for any business.”
Thomas adds that the Middle East region, and in particular the UAE, has become a hub for innovative startups and SMEs, a segment of the economy that makes the single largest contribution to the local GDP, which is why it has become a strategic priority to many regional governments. Furthermore, Thomas cites different reports predicting that, in 2020 alone, Middle Eastern startups are expected to attract more than US$1 billion in funding.
“All this makes the region a hugely attractive market for HP, because we want to be top-of-mind for those business owners and entrepreneurs when thinking about setting up their IT infrastructure,” Thomas says. “Furthermore, HP is investing in training and upskilling users in the region to enhance their competency in areas like business and IT. As such, HP LIFE comes as a global online program that provides entrepreneurs a chance to acquire more knowledge through self-paced courses and online community that is easily accessible and free of charge.”
This idea of always striving to improve oneself is a sentiment that is reflected in Thomas’ advice for entrepreneurs as well. “The world is constantly changing, and various global trends are shaping the mentality of the future customer, especially with technology,” Thomas says. “Therefore, one key consideration for entrepreneurs is to have a deep understanding of their product or service, as well as be able to anticipate the changes that lie ahead, and be efficient in adapting to these changes.”
THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Five tips for doing business from Matthew Thomas, Managing Director and Vice President at HP Middle East, Turkey, and East Africa
1. Have a well thought out business plan in place. “A solid plan will help you address key opportunities and challenges, and enable you to achieve both your short-term and long-term objectives for your business.”
2. Cash is king, but more so for startups and SMEs. “It is easy to fall in the trap of just focusing on running a profit. Therefore, keeping a tab on your finances and make smart decisions when making investments into your business.”
3. Talent really does matter. “Entrepreneurs need to understand the importance of getting the best available person for each job– don’t compromise! This normally is a difficult task, but getting it right will have a big impact on your business.”
4. Be knowledgeable about your industry. “Do not avoid going out there and meeting people. Be part of the local startup and SME ecosystem, and play an active role in it. This can take up a significant amount of your time, but will always pay off in the long-term.”
5. Get your IT infrastructure right. “Equip your staff with the right devices to run your business as efficiently as possible, and shop around and get advice before making a decision.”