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Follow The Leader: Harmeek Singh, Founder And CEO, Plan b "The keyword is collaboration, because it is how teams are formed with a long-term view, and an aim to build a bigger think tank."

By Tamara Pupic

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Plan b

Harmeek Singh, when he first arrived in Dubai 15 years ago, could probably have not imagined that he'd become the founder and CEO of a homegrown business known for redefining the UAE's events industry- but you could perhaps tell he was on his way there if you were to hear his recipe for startup success.. "Stick to the basics, remain focused, know your market and its gaps, and be consistent with the offerings," Singh says. "The keyword is collaboration, because it is how teams are formed with a long-term view, and an aim to build a bigger think tank." Singh's formula might be easier said than done; however, it does truly summarize the focus and self-confidence he has relied upon while paving his way to success.

Today, the Plan b Group consists of eight companies which employ more than 300 staff and are spread across the UAE, India, Russia, and the UK. The portfolio of its services includes everything from digital printing, fabricating neverbefore- seen events, executing impactful marketing and PR campaigns, as well as offering the latest technological solutions and various creative services. Singh adds that the group's current market share is between 5% and 18%, although it varies when broken down in smaller segments for the group's different companies. On average, he explains, the group's current growth rate is positioned at 12% to 15% annually, while in 2018 alone, the Plan b team achieved a 22.5% growth of the overall business. "As a group, our turnkey approach has got us regular and frequent business, because we tend to refine our tactics to suit the market conditions at any given time," Singh says. "Technology additions and experiential offerings are the new x factor; however, they have already become a standard feature in our industry. Yet, with our R&D department working in this sector for the past five years, we have been able to be in the front row."

Related: Follow The Leader: Samer Hamadeh, Founder, Akiba Dori, Tokyopolitan, And Stereo Arcade

However, Singh believes that the word innovation is currently overused, advising entrepreneurs that any kind of forced innovation, just for the sake of being different, might lead them to actually miss their goals. "Being innovative in your strategy or your offerings gets you the needed differentiation from what you were doing earlier, or from what your contemporaries have been doing," he explains. "Recent trends do influence the strategy of any business, but they must be used more as a source of new information rather than something to be completely followed. Trends might be an indication, but not be a complete path." Singh takes a hands-on approach when it comes to the group's R&D research, working with the team on exploring market trends and global breakthroughs. "Anything that is a global phenomenon and can be adapted to the region enhances the uniqueness of our offerings," he says. "Creativity adds the flavor into our storytelling. We ride high on technology and adding newness to our creative thought process in order to stay away from being repetitive. That is our mantra for achieving sustainability and growth."

Harmeek Singh is the founder and CEO of Plan b.
Source: Plan b

Singh credits much of the group's success to what he describes as "the strongest team I could dream of." He says, "Having a good team is the base of any organization, but retaining them is a bigger challenge," he says. "Retaining star performers requires regular incentives, not just monetary, but also when it comes to their own growth and responsibility. In my opinion, multitasking team members help in covering more work areas with a smaller number of employees. Therefore, the combination of star performers and multitaskers is exactly what a CEO looks for." Singh adds that he prefers to be "more of a leader than a boss." He adds, "I believe in staying connected with my team, infusing confidence and passion in them, and having everyone working towards a common goal. The trick is that the captain is as good as the team, and thus it is important to empower and appreciate your team regularly. It helps with creating a sense of belonging and helps them strive towards achieving the vision of the leadership."

However, Singh does not shy away from admitting that different growth stages of his business, like with any other, have brought with it some difficulties for the enterprise. "Any business growth brings challenges with the team alignment, role definition, and managerial shift," he says. "With a very wide base of employees at the bottom of the work pyramid, our greatest challenge used to be the reporting structure. Having considered several options, we made the right decision to choose someone from within the organization. That man, after 10 years of being with the company, has been a part of our growth process, and has been respected by all. This decision has also served us well in communicating (and showing) to the team that the ongoing hard work pays off." After so many years in the UAE's business arena, Singh remains positive about this market's further growth potential. "With the reopening of other markets like Saudi Arabia, the UAE aggressively marching towards Expo 2020, and other initiatives, there are a lot of opportunities, and we need to remain positive, as there is enough room for everyone to work and excel."

Tips For Entrepreneurs By Harmeek Singh, Founder And CEO, Plan b

"Always have a connection with your team and your clients. Also, be familiar with regional and international trends and market shifts."

"Decisions being delayed can backfire, therefore, be conscious of the many market challenges and opportunities."

"Competition is a thing of the past, whereas collaboration is the new path to sustainability and mutually beneficial coexistence."

"Understand and know the gaps in the market, and aim to fill them in order to accelerate your road to success."

"Having a breather for yourself and the team is not only refreshing, but it helps you evaluate things in a positive frame of mind."

Related: Turning Heads: Plan b Founder And Chairman Harmeek Singh

Tamara Pupic

Entrepreneur Staff

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East.

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