Starting a business is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. It will give you the chance to be your own boss, set your own hours and control how you work. But starting your own business also comes with a range of challenges.
In this article, we’ll make things easier by looking at how to start a business in detail. We’ll share advice that will help you break through the challenges you’ll face. Many of the tips we explore here are applicable anywhere in the world. But we’ll also focus specially on starting a business in the UAE.
The Process of Starting a Business
Your business begins with you. You’re the one who’ll drive it forward and set the direction of travel. You’re the one who’ll enjoy the biggest rewards if your business is successful.
We understand that this is an exciting time in your life. But it pays to slow down and move forward one step at a time.
Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business
This is the moment to ask yourself some key questions. Your answers will define the unique process of starting your own business.
- What kind of business should I start?
- How will I structure that business?
- What will I need to buy?
- Will I need premises?
- Will I need a website? (Hint: Almost every modern business should have a website.)
- Where is the best place to set up a business?
- Who will help me set up my business?
- Will I need to hire staff?
- Who will my customers be?
- Who will my competitors be?
- What will the set-up costs be?
- How much money could I make?
- How long can I afford to trade before I start earning money?
- Do I need any licenses to set up or operate my business?
You might not have all the answers right away, and you should prepare to do some research before you begin. Then, write down a detailed plan – including the expected time frames and costs for each step.
Learn more: Entrepreneur.com have published a great article on how to start a business. A few of the steps relate to the US, but most of the tips could apply anywhere in the world. Next, we’re going to switch our own attention to the UAE.
Starting a Business in the UAE
The UAE is internationally recognised as one of the best countries to start a business. But there are some specific steps you’ll need to take.
Starting an Onshore Business
Onshore businesses, also known as mainland businesses, have the freedom to trade right across the UAE – and even internationally. You’ll need to obtain a trading licence to set up and operate an onshore business in the UAE. But this licence will typically allow you to trade in a variety of sectors.
Foreign nationals starting an onshore business in the UAE will need a local business partner. This partner is also known as a sponsor, and must hold a 51+% share in the business.
Some company formation agents in the UAE also act as sponsors and silent partners in their client’s new businesses. Others provide names of local sponsors who’ll act in the same way. This makes it easier for foreign investors to meet this legal requirement – without bringing in a partner who’ll interfere in the running of their company.
Learn more: The UAE government provides guidance on the steps to start a business on the mainland.
Starting a Business in UAE Free Zones
Foreign investors can avoid the need for a local business partner and keep a 100% shareholding in their UAE business by setting up in a free zone. In fact, the UAE’s free zones help attract foreign investment through their design.
There are many tax incentives to starting a business in a UAE free zone. For instance, imports/exports are exempt from custom duties. There’s also a 0% corporate and personal income tax rate. And business owners are able to move all of their profits back to their own country.
Of course, all these benefits come with some restrictions. You’ll still need to apply for a trading licence. That licence will typically be more restrictive – setting out what kind of business activities you can engage in. You’ll be set to the location of the free zone you’re based within.
Learn more: The UAE government has published some great guidelines on starting a business in a UAE free zone.
Why Digital Marketing is Important
Whether you want to do business in the UAE, or elsewhere, the internet makes it easier to connect with customers all over the world. But remember: when your business is new, no one knows about you yet!
When you first start a business, you can use digital marketing techniques to build your online presence. This will make it simpler for new customers to learn who you are, and what you do.
The Advantages of Digital Marketing over Traditional Marketing
Digital marketing has a number of advantages over traditional marketing techniques. Digital marketing campaigns can be more cost effective, easier to set up, easier to target and more flexible.
As a simple example, let’s imagine you want to run a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising campaign. You can use PPC ads to drive traffic to your website, while controlling the amount you pay for each click. You can set up a PPC campaign in minutes, and target people searching for the exact service or product you offer. The campaign can also be modified if, for example, you want to increase your budget or change your ads for a special promotion.
This article on Prowly explores more advantages of digital marketing over traditional marketing. Already convinced about the benefits of digital marketing? Great – you can learn how to put it into action in our own guide to digital marketing in the UAE.
Websites, Hosting and Your Domain Name
Your digital marketing strategy will probably revolve around your website. If you don’t have a website yet, then it’s time to get one!
Building a Business Website
When it comes to building a website for your business, you have two choices. You can either build your own website, or you can hire a professional web developer. Of the two, hiring a developer is often the fastest and simplest option, but it can also be much more expensive.
When first starting a business, you may prefer the cost savings of making your own website. This also gives you greater control over its look and feel. Self-hosted WordPress is usually the best option for advanced websites. But many start-up businesses just need a simple website. Luckily, some web hosting companies provide a website builder that makes it fast and affordable to get started.
The Best Website Hosting for Business
Website builder packages usually come with hosting included in the price. But if you choose to build a website using WordPress (or another content management system), then you’ll need to take out a web hosting plan.
There’s no such thing as the best type of web hosting. It all depends on the unique needs of your business. That said, if you’re a WordPress user, then specialist WordPress website hosting is definitely worth considering.
What’s in a Name?
The domain name you choose for your website could play a big part in your digital success. Some entrepreneurs even choose the name of their business based on the best available domain name.
There are several steps to picking a domain name that’s best for you. Essentially, you should look for something catchy and expressive of your business’ niche. You could choose a generic top-level domain – like a .com domain. Or, you could target customers in one country with a country-code top-level domain – like a .ae domain for the UAE.
Ready to get your new business online? Start by searching for your dream domain name. Just head to our domain search page, where you’ll find .com domains, .ae domains and more.