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Yemen's Entrepreneurs Offer Tips On Starting A Business Yemen's resilient entrepreneurs and mentors share pointers on building and growing a business amid difficult circumstances.

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When you speak to an entrepreneur about his or her fledgling business, scaling up usually crops up as a key challenge, and product development or marketing often figures as common need for funds. That said, it can be quite unsettling to talk to founders and have them share a predicament wherein the core survival of the business stands threatened by an ongoing war- as happens to be the case in Yemen. Not every entrepreneur wishing to make a business out of their pet project comes across such obstacles, and it takes herculean conviction to persevere in such conditions. For Yemen, entrepreneurship seems to have emerged as a helping hand for an economy drowning in political instability. With this being the case, hearing from entrepreneurs in Yemen on how they started their businesses can be quite inspiring--and especially informative as well. Here are a few pointers they offered their peers:

1. ONLY ONE YES MATTERS

Bassem Warafi, CEO and founder, Tamween

Bassem Warafi, Founder and CEO, Tamween. Image credit: Tamween.

"We live in a region that's full of troubles. Define problems very well and try to find out innovative solutions that can massively save resources. Secondly, be ready. You don't know where and when the next idea pops up! Jot it down immediately on your smartphone, there are many apps can help you out with this. Third, get noticed by engaging with regional forums. Follow market influencers and ask the right questions to the right experts. Get new skills and improve the old ones. Finally, remember, it doesn't really matter how many times you hear no. Only one "Yes' matters."

2. INVESTORS WANT TRACTION

Mohammed Abdulbaqi, founder, Lumlim

Mohammed Abdulbaqi, Founder, Lumlim. Image credit: Lumlim.
"You carry the burden of taking Yemen out of its misery and we can do so together. Another advice I have for all MENA entrepreneurs is that you will not know your product unless you talk to your customers. Don't waste time in coding and building your own perspective. Your customers know your product better than you do. With respect to raising funds, especially in MENA region, don't ever go to any investor unless you have traction. Believe me, most investors will not understand a word about your technology and innovative ideas. They want only one thing - traction."

3. LEARN , LEARN , LEARN

Tarik Alsharafi, Startup & Business Growth Coach

Tarik Alsharafi, Startup and Business Growth Coach. Image Souce: Tarik.

"Find a customer that needs something and start a business around that need instead of finding a product then building a business around the product. Start small even if you have the money. Do not spend any money on the establishment of your business unless you are willing to borrow it from someone and you are sure you will get positive ROI on it. [Second] spend 80% of your time on selling. Make sure you spend most of your time outside your office talking to your customers. Only the business owner can know what the market needs and can adapt to the customers' demands. [Third] learn, learn, learn. Learn about the lean startup, sales, marketing, finance, and accounting. Your job as an entrepreneur is a problem-solver so be ready to solve problems every day. Seek mentorship as early as possible. Try to find people who have grown their businesses in the same or similar markets that you are operating in. A mentor can help you grow your business faster, can provide guidance, and can help you avoid mistakes that you don't expect on the way ahead. Finally, aim to serve people with class. Do not start a business for the profit, but do it because you like to serve people and want to help solve their problems. Profit will come later."

Related: Moving Mountains: Yemen's Startups Innovate Under Unimaginable Circumstances

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