Traveling along the bumpy road to entrepreneurship.
Starting your own venture is already a big feat. But to become a self-sustaining boss during the Pandemic is another accomplishment entirely. Contributing Editor, Saja El Mishri explores what the current environment for entrepreneurs feels like and offers solutions for day to day challenges that new founders may encounter.
Being an entrepreneur is challenging and each person has his/her distinct journey to starting a new business. Having interviewed Mohamed Fayed, Marriam Mossalli, Samah Wahbeh and other industry folks on Curated Today – I got to hear their personal and inspiring stories that led them to becoming their own successful bosses.
But we’re left wondering, why the recent influx of entrepreneurs? The Middle East has become a prominent location for new ventures due to prominent younger populations and a high level of digital connectivity according to consultancy-me.com. Given how entrepreneurship in MENA is on the rise, more and more individuals are yearning to start their own businesses due to external circumstances happening in the pandemic. On another extreme, some individuals are also left with no choice but to start their own ventures. To illustrate, it is reported that 14% of firms in the West Bank and Gaza and 17% in Algeria have let go of their permanent employees. So if not downsizing, firms are creating unfavorable work environments for employees by decreasing their salaries or reducing work hours in order to justify the changes.
After enduring being let go, these newly founded ‘employees turned entrepreneurs’ do not always have the easiest time setting up their ventures in the Middle East. In 2016, Gulf News listed 11 things that nobody tells you about starting a business in UAE – some of which still prove to be obstacles today. However to get a real-time perspective, I spoke with Curated Today’s very own founder Judy Daghestani about her three year journey as an entrepreneur and how she thinks today’s freelancers, consultants and startup founders can overcome daily challenges: “Since COVID hit, consultants have suffered; their long-term clients were not able to pay retainer on a regular basis, so that affects the overall cash flow, which would normally be used to hire more help. So Instead of taking on too many clients with limited budgets, it would be ideal to prioritize one or two big clients at a time to ensure stable income.”
Further Judy added: “In 2021, the majority of clients’ operations have shifted online since the majority of consumers prefer convenience and safety over shopping in person right now. To be useful today, consultants and agencies should be familiar with the realms of e-commerce, performance marketing and SEO in order to help their clients improve conversion and establish a digital footprint. Hence investing in additional learning might require a shift in funds.”
Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy and not everyone can make it work. More than anything, the year 2020 has proven to be the most turbulent year yet for both new and established businesses globally. However as pointed out from Judy, the only way forward seems to be by adapting to the current circumstances.
About The Editor
Having grown up in Sweden and later moving to the UK, Saja is deeply motivated by emerging social and political concerns around sustainability. Saja currently works as a freelance writer and recently published articles at Eco-Age that explores if sustainability has become a westernized concept.
Saja is currently working as a freelance journalist writing about the intersection of sustainability, fashion and social justice and recently being selected for the FashMash Young Pioneers program, recognized to drive positive change in the industry.