Tuesday 18 January 2022

Taking your start-up to new heights is not without risk

DUBAI, December 6, 2021

By Viresh Harduth

The UAE and the wider GCC region are a hotbed for entrepreneurs and start-ups. From marketing and consulting freelancers, to hair salons, small bakeries, bookkeeping, tax practices, and more. While some of their owners are happy to keep it small and perhaps even informal, many others reach a point where they are ready to expand to the next level of growth.

For these individuals, this moment arrives when they want to leave full-time employment behind and focus on officially building their own business.

Consider the following five things if you want to level up your start-up and position it for growth.

1.    Consider setting up a formal company  

Moving from operating as an individual to registering a company can facilitate access to signing contracts, bank finance, getting export or import licences and commercial insurance, and bringing other shareholders on board.

Another benefit is that it may help protect you as an individual from business-related legal risks. There are downsides such as more administration, including filing annual financial statements prepared by an accountant. The costs of running a registered company are also typically higher.

You’ll need a business bank account when you go this route. A business bank account separates your financial affairs from those of your company. It may also open up access to specialist financial products and services, such as point of sale payments products, business overdrafts and trade financing.

2.    Get professional advice

As your business grows, you may realise you don’t have the time or expertise to do everything yourself. If you take the route of registering a company, you’ll definitely need the support of an accountant if you are not one yourself. Depending on your skillset and business acumen, speaking to professionals in human resources, marketing and technology can add enormous value to your business.

3.    Write a business plan

A business plan outlining your vision and strategy is a must if you want to take growth to the next level. Your business plan answers key questions about your business, its goals, how you’ll achieve them, and your customers and financial projections. It includes information about your marketing and sales strategies, financial forecasts, market, competitive landscape, and more. It’s useful as an internal guiding light, and it can also help you secure external financing, should you need it.

4.    Review your rates  

As you step up your game, you may want to review your prices and fees. If you have been operating a home-based or side business, your old rates might not be enough to cover the operational costs of running a more formal business. You may also need to generate more money if you’re turning a side-line business into your primary source of income. If you make investments to professionalise your business and potentially expand your set of services, it will be fair to ask customers to pay more for the additional value you add.  

5.    Re-evaluate systems and processes  

If you’re serious about growing your business, technology can help you meet your goals and reduce the additional administrative duties you will face. An online accounting system, for example, will help you track your finances in real-time, plan and budget more accurately. It will also enable you to send out slick, professional invoices; track and document your expenses, watch your cash flow, and much more. This will save you time and help you comply with tax laws as you focus on growing your business.

Stay on a growth track

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for taking a start-up to the next level. Deciding to take this leap is exciting, but it’s not without risks. Planning ahead and seeking sound advice can position you to navigate the challenges and opportunities. Once you get on the right track, the rewards will invariably justify your hard work.

About the author: Viresh Harduth is Vice President, Small Business, Sage Africa & Middle East.


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