Top startup advice from investors
Rushika Bhatia
10x Industry

Top startup advice from investors

After interviewing venture capitalists, institutional investors, family businesses, and more, SME 10X compiles three top tips from leading investors for startup entrepreneurs in the region -

We’ve seen dozens of startup entrepreneurs ask the same question to investors as well as successful entrepreneurs time and again: where should one focus their energies, how should one go about starting a business, and how to seek funding.

The top tips we’ve curated from investors answer these questions. Check them out below:

Have a strong business plan

This one comes from Mustafa Kheriba, Deputy CEO of ADFG, who says “if you have a strong business plan, through which you can show how your business will evolve, grow, sustain, and create a cash flow over a period of 5-7 years, then that would be your bible.

This will be the blueprint for success.” He further adds, “this will also help you when you go out and do fundraising.”

“We’re a mature business today, and a public entity, but all our business lines carry their own P&L and business plans. So you need to achieve business plan and budgets, and you need to know and be fully aware of what your financials look like at all times — all the time.”

“You need to strongly believe in the product that you’re launching. But at the same time you need to have grit and you need to be planning all the time.” — Mustafa Kheriba, Deputy CEO of ADFG

Don’t quit your day job

The success of local heroes such as Careem and has inspired a whole generation of entrepreneurs to set up their own business in the region. And while it is very good to be confident about your idea, it is not advisable to quit your day job without having a concrete idea, plan and even funds in place.

Most successful entrepreneurs we’ve met have told me how they worked on their business idea for a long time after work hours. After all, entrepreneurship is a challenging job, and if one can’t handle a primary job and secondary project at the same time, then they’re going to face difficult times when they start launching their firm and have to don multiple hats to get their business off the ground.

Even if you’re lucky enough to have the money to fund your startup, it is important that you keep the full-time job you have, or at least do it part-time. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road; maintaining a routine, having the security, and more importantly, the social connection with people plays a major role in helping entrepreneurs cope mentally.

Don't let anxiety take over your idea

In the initial months, many startup founders can come off as cagey about their idea and business plan, which often stems from the insecurity of someone stealing the information to launch it themselves or help warn competitors.

However, an idea’s true power lies in its execution. If your idea has potential, and you have the right set of expertise and the vision the see it through, you will succeed — and you will have competitors venturing into your field. Take it as a sign of the potential for growth rather than fear of competition. Moreover, if you are building a new market, more competitors can help you build the market in the initial years. If investors’ funding is your concern, then know that you can benchmark your growth with respect to competitors, which will better showcase your drive and strengths to succeed.

In summary

Always come from a place of strength rather than fear, and you will see yourself and your business succeed in the market. The ecosystem is growing and maturing. Doing business is becoming easier in the UAE, and there is more capital and more investors in the market than ever before. Believe in yourself and your idea, and move forward with all you have. It’s tough, but it’s worth it.