Riding The Waves Of Business As An Entrepreneur: The How-To Whether your sea of choice is the salty kind with breaking waves, or the ever-moving business world, here is your quick guide to ride that wave all the way to entrepreneur success.

By Lorenzo Jooris

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There is always momentum in the ocean, but also danger. And whether your sea of choice is the salty kind with breaking waves, or the ever-moving business world, here is your quick guide to ride that wave all the way to entrepreneur success. Here's a look at what you need to do before you start your business, the best way to understand business timelines, getting the right expertise in place, the importance of initially focusing on the basics– and of course, avoiding the sharks.

Let's jump in the water.

1. Check out the waves before you enter the water

One thing experienced surfers do is watch the sea. You'll see them standing on the beach for long periods of time, looking out at the ocean. What are they doing? What are they looking for?

Well, in business terms, they're doing a general overview. They're taking a read on the current situation, thinking about how they will tackle it, and looking out for any potential problems. Before they even get their feet wet, they are doing their due diligence.

As an entrepreneur, it's easy to get so excited that you just race in at full speed. And while that kind of enthusiasm and passion are definitely needed, so is a moment to just take an overview of the situation.

Everything you cover in your overview you will look at in much more detail as you move forward, but this is a time to just take a moment, and think through some key points:

  • Are you jumping in blindly, or have you researched your industry?
  • Have you looked into your competitors?
  • Do you understand clearly where your offering fits and the problem/s it solves?
  • Do you know who your customers are going to be, and how you intend to reach them?

This is the entrepreneur equivalent of staring out to sea– you're getting a sense of the world you're about to enter into. Of course, you will never have all the answers, and things are in constant motion, but getting a general view before you make your first move is key.

2. Wait for the right wave

Getting the timeline right for your business is vital. It's just like waiting for the right wave– choose the wrong one and you will fall short and crash out, but choose the right one and you can ride it safely to shore.

But how can you make sure you get the timeline right? Firstly, start by knowing your industry inside out. This is where we move on from the overview mentioned in the point above, and start getting into the fine details. You cannot afford to choose the wrong wave, so here it's important to focus on:

  • Detailed, rigorous market research.
  • Researching when will be the optimum time for you to enter the market.
  • Understanding where you want to be in six months, one year, five years.
  • Putting together a business plan which is an active document, something you can constantly refer to and update where needed.

3. Talk to the locals (i.e. the experts!)

No one knows more about a particular surfing beach than those who are there day in and day out. They can advise on where to paddle out, which rip tides to keep an eye on, the position of any hidden rocks under the water, and so on. And business is just the same. If you don't talk to the experts, things could go wrong. Quickly.

In the UAE, the most efficient way to get up and running quickly is working with a company formation specialist. Using the expertise and local knowledge of someone who lives in this business world on a daily basis means your questions get answered, and you get to avoid many of the pitfalls that catch others. And most importantly, you get to focus on your business, letting the specialist take care of everything else.

Related: More Than A Side Hustle: When Should Entrepreneurs Quit Their Day Jobs

4. Learn to paddle before you stand up

When you're surfing, you first must master how to paddle lying down on your board before you learn how to stand up. Stand up too early, and you will fall off every time. Starting a business is the same– get the basics in place before you move forward.

Have you quit your day job and jumped all-in to this new venture? Have you planned out how you expect to support yourself (and your family) until your business starts making money? Learning to paddle before you stand up simply means that you understand the risks you are dealing with, and while you work aggressively towards your goal, you don't get ahead of yourself.

Continuing with your regular source of income until your startup really catches fire is one good example. As is starting with a product or service which you can realize fairly quickly, even if ultimately your offering will be more complex and will take more time to get to market.

5. Avoid the "sharks"

Just like surfing, in business there will be sharks in the water that you need to avoid at all costs. These unidentified threats can crop up at any time so you must be prepared to deal with all situations.

It's pretty difficult to plan for shark attacks. What you can do is build your startup so it's as agile as possible and able to pivot quickly when needed. This will come into play if you need to tweak or even change your offering due to an unforeseen market change.

You'll also need strong, clear decision making if there comes a time when you must choose whether to accept investment from a third party, and what that would mean for control of your business. Or if an aggressive, much larger competitor suddenly enters your market.

While you can't stop any of these things, you can prepare your business so you're as nimble as possible and able to react quickly.

Enjoy the wave

There is no greater feeling in the world than when you are on that wave, riding it like a pro. Everything is running smoothly, you're calm, as the tube curls over you and you ride through the barrel. But eventually that wave ends, or perhaps it closes out on you and you wipe out. Regardless, it's time to start looking for another wave.

Because at the end of the day, the riding of the wave is only part of the whole surfing experience –the paddling, the waiting, the socializing with the locals, navigating around problems– it's all part of the experience, and there is joy in every single phase.

What are we saying? Well, in business the journey is more important than the final goal, so make sure you enjoy each stage. It's by far the best approach to business (and surfing) success.

Now all you need to do is get into the water. Surf's up!

Related: Starting A Business During A Downturn: The Stories Behind Two Dubai Ventures That Launched Amid The COVID-19 Crisis

Lorenzo Jooris

CEO, Creative Zone

Lorenzo Jooris is the CEO of Creative Zone, Dubai’s leading business advisory firm. Lorenzo holds extensive and diverse experience in the Middle Eastern and South Asian business markets and retains an expert opinion on the regions’ SMEs and startup culture.

He was the founder of One World Communications, a 360-degree multi-media powerhouse advising governments around the world in branding and communication strategies. He later on started Leaders Middle East in the UAE and formulated “Leaders without Borders,” an initiative that promotes young social entrepreneurs’ development, as well as the “Power Women of Arabia" debate. In 2018, he joined Arton Capital as the Vice President of global growth and strategy, where he oversaw international expansion of the company and was in charge of sales, marketing and events worldwide.

Lorenzo is a firm believer in giving back to the community, and within Creative Zone, he has spearheaded significant initiatives to help and support promising startups and entrepreneurs. He is the author of Recipes for a Better World, and he also serves as an advisor to the James Michel Foundation.

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