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 type of business should I start?
Try to look for gaps in existing markets or create your own market. A good idea is the building blocks for any successful business.
What should my business structure be?
Having a well structured business will allow the business to grow faster and more comfortably.
What will I need to buy?
Every business no matter how big or small has start-up costs, these can include such things as a new laptop all the way through to stock.
Will I need premises?
If you’re planning on selling onsite, growing a team or want to provide a professional identity, a premises will be required.
Will I need a website?
Chances are you will need a business website, almost every modern business should have a website. If you don’t, you’re unlikely to reach a wider audience.
Where is the best place to set up a business?
Focus on areas you know, have studied or believe your product or service would be successful in.
Who will help me set up my business?
There are a range of professional based support options, but you can also ask family and friends for support.
Will I need to hire staff?
Hiring staff is a big cost, but, if you’re looking to grow your business or sell certain products or services a level of delegation is needed in order to be efficient.
Who will my customers be?
You should understand your target market before starting the business, try to research individuals or businesses that would want or need your product or service.
Who will my competitors be?
Your competitors will be anyone that is selling similar products or services to you. It is important to differentiate yourself from these competitors.
What will the set-up costs be?
Research the items you’ll need to run the business, everything from a new website all the way to printer paper.
How much money could your new business make?
This can depend on your business and the market you’re looking to enter. Be sure to make a budget and understand what you need to make to ensure you can still live and pay back any expenses you may have created during the start up process.
How long can I afford to trade before I start earning money?
This will depend on circumstances, but ensure you make a list of your personal costs and your personal savings. How long could your savings and other income cover your monthly costs?
Do I need any licences to set up or operate my business?
Chances are you do, but be sure to research the specific area you’re looking to start up the business in.
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.
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.
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.
Digital Marketing Strategies
There are a range of tools that can be used to create engaging and targeted marketing strategies. These tools can take advantage of email marketing, search engines and social media to direct potential business to physical or online businesses.
Websites, Hosting and Your Domain Name
Your digital marketing strategy will probably revolve around your website. If you currently do not have a website then it may be 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.