A couple of weeks ago I met a friend for dinner and a movie. She’d recently taken a week off work and said she’d enjoyed the beautiful change of weather in the capital.

Relaxing at home and doing things she enjoyed made her realise it was about time she started her own business. She’s always had an idea in mind that she wanted to pursue, and she was adamant there was no time like the present to get going.

As an advocate for entrepreneurship, I could not have been more thrilled. I have always encouraged her to follow her dreams and pursue a business she felt strongly about. Which is why when she said she wanted to go ahead, I stressed that she had to be honest with herself before starting her business, ensure that she was truly passionate about her idea; that she could see herself working on it day and night. Because that is what is needed to grow and expand an enterprise, and she would have to be willing to put in extra hours in the beginning until her business picks up.

She laughed off my comment, stating she would hire someone from the outset to manage everything from A to Z, while she spent her day lounging by her pool, enjoying her corporate freedom and munching on her favourite sugar-glazed doughnuts. Was I shocked at her remark? Not really.

Although managing one’s business can mean more freedom in some aspects, you cannot ignore the hard work that needs to be put in, especially in the beginning. I have met many aspiring entrepreneurs who shared a similar mentality; that their responsibility would be to merely fund the business and everything else would be hand­led by the manager they hire.

That is not to say that an entrepreneur should take on everything on their own either. It is simply not possible when you consider the different aspects to focus on such as PR, advertising, customer service, product development, and strategising. But when you are building your business, you need to at least be involved in every aspect, to understand how things work.

Let your staff feel your passion. Explain your vision to them, and have them believe in it too. You do not want to have team members who do not believe in what you are trying to achieve. Let them shadow you and see how you conduct your work. That way it will be easier to delegate tasks in the future. At the beginning of their career with you, seeing how you personally work will inspire them to follow in your footsteps.

When business does pick up, and you can freely delegate your daily tasks, you should not be completely hands off. If your business is in town, then be there every day even for a couple of hours, or have a conference call with your managers every week if your business operates in a different country. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, spends five days of the week at his office – this even after his company became a global leader.

There are other reasons why it is important to be involved in your business. You will learn more about your customers’ needs and concerns through customer service. Their comments, as well as market trends, will help you with your expansion plans, product development and growing your business. Your involvement will also provide a morale boost to your employees and make them feel they are part of one big team.

Completely distancing yourself from your business and depending on someone else to run it for you will backfire and could result in mishaps, theft and, ultimately, your business going doing the drain. No one can transfer your passion to the business as much as you. Passion felt by an owner towards their business not only makes the employees believe in the concept and strive to develop it, but will also be felt by the customers.

An hour a day spent with your team, either in the morning by conducting rounds, or just over a conference call if you are away, will go a long way. It is a crucial investment that you have to make.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai

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A while ago, a friend and I were discussing opportunities and their relationship with timing. Consider the GCC, for instance, and the discovery of oil in the 19th century. Those with a long-term vision went ahead and became representatives of major car dealerships, technology suppliers and retail brands.

My friend argued that it was simply a matter of the right timing; that perhaps those who dominate the market now would not be doing so well and would never have been great businesspeople had they been born at another time. Some may agree.

We then moved on to discuss her upcoming business venture and she stated that just like those businesspeople, she also aspires to be a big fish in the pond. There is no doubt that being the big fish comes with its advantages. The big fish gains respect, has a fair share of the market size and attracts more attention. That business is probably also a customer’s first choice when it comes to purchasing a product or acquiring a service.

Even though the days of oil discovery are a long time ago, with new sectors and technological developments taking place, some aspiring entrepreneurs still aim to be the biggest fish in the pond. When I speak to them, they not only want to be the first to bring in something new to the market, but they want to ensure that no one else does the same thing – at least for a while.

I am all for ambition, and I salute those who not only want to bring in something new but are already thinking about the next step to take. However, the real challenge does not lie in becoming the biggest fish in the biggest pond, but to find the right pond to begin with. And the right pond is not necessarily the biggest one; it is the place where we can do something great, change customers’ lives and hopefully improve the lifestyles of many. It may not dominate size-wise, but we can still be the big fish there.

There is always room for new businesses within the same industry since each player operates differently, and this is what makes people go to different providers of the same services. The real opportunity lies in aligning what you enjoy, what you are passionate about, with what is really missing in the market.

The great thing about living in a growing market like the UAE, and that of the GCC with its high tech-savvy youth demographic is that there is a huge opportunity to be a pioneer provider of many products and services. All it takes is extra time to research and analyse customers’ needs. This is a step I have seen many young entrepreneurs skip. They focus their research on those closest to them instead of exploring the feedback of a larger pool of potential customers.

Those who have done their research include the Emirati women behind Stars and Bananas. They noticed a lack of home party planners with exquisite taste in Abu Dhabi a few years ago. With the help of social media, they spread the word about their work and established a small party planning company to fill that gap.

Similarly, the lack of organic, clean-eating cafes in the country has encouraged numerous outlets such as Kcal and Basiligo to open up in the market and serve health-conscious customers. And Mobileaid sends their tech professionals to the rescue to fix your phone at your office or home; a perfect solution for those who cannot leave the office or those occupied with other matters.

Take your time to find out how you can fill a gap in the market; how your business would solve a problem. Ensure that solution is efficient for you, convenient for customers and can be conducted in a timely manner. Perhaps an online presence is more than enough or a mobile app will do the trick. When it comes to how your business operates, do not limit yourself. You do not have to be static; you can gain a huge market share because you are on the go.

Take your time and choose a pond that fits you rather than trying to fit yourself into an existing one. Before you know it, you could be leading the pack.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Follow her on Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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I recently attended one of the most beautiful wedding parties I have ever been to in my life. Months of preparation had been invested towards the big night. The wedding invitations were carefully designed by a talented graphic designer, the flowers ordered from abroad and the menu featured almost every cuisine you could think of – from traditional local food to gourmet sushi.

Performers were flown in from neighbouring GCC countries to entertain the guests and for the night owls, who danced until the early hours, breakfast was served after 2am. In the run-up to the wedding, the bride herself spent a couple of months in New York with her gown’s designers, going over and over the design of the dress, from its train to the veil and the delicate details.

The bride probably spent more time preparing for the wedding than planning the next stage of her life. But two months after the lavish occasion, the couple filed for divorce, stating they were not compatible. The time spent preparing for the wedding, was longer than the marriage itself.

Just like marriage, running a business and sustaining it is more important than actually launching the venture. In the long run, planning a wedding is an easier task than building a strong marriage. Similarly, in business setting up is relatively easy compared to sustaining your new venture, developing it and growing it. This is probably why I have seen numerous start-ups not make it past the three-year mark.

I met an acquaintance the other day who just six months after launching the design studio she was so passionate about is now considering closing the business at the end of the year. She’d finally realised all about the expense of hiring staff and the high cost of renting an office in a prime location. The thing is, she’d been so excited in the launch phase that she hired left and right without a proper plan. After discussions with her social circle, she agreed not to quit but instead to downsize her expenses by firstly relocating to a cheaper location.

In the beginning we can all be tempted to focus on the logo design, the different paper types for our business cards or the uniforms for the front office staff. As important as this is, if you do not have a vision for your business, a plan of where you want to be in the next few years, then you are in for a challenge.

To avoid burning out too soon, make sure you prepare a two-year plan before you launch. This should factor in all the expected expenses, with a pot set aside for unexpected costs that may arise along the way, such as the need to hire an extra staff member, or money to pay wages if an unexpected downturn happens.

As an entrepreneur, your mission is not just to start your business, but to expand it and for you to grow with it. Invest time in reading, training and keeping up to date with the industry’s latest news. Involve your staff in this routine as well, so that your team develops along with you. Perhaps set aside an hour in the day to meet and discuss the latest industry trend or dedicate your solo reading time to this task. Networking is also part of growing your business. Connections open doors to other connections, exciting new business areas or a whole new geographic territory.

Last but not least, always be on the lookout for new ways to expand your business. Listen to your customers, stay up to the date with other businesses in the industry and watch what they are doing. Also see how you could help expand and grow it, including your business on digital platforms.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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I recently attended one of the most beautiful wedding parties I have ever been to in my life. Months of preparation had been invested towards the big night. The wedding invitations were carefully designed by a talented graphic designer, the flowers ordered from abroad and the menu featured almost every cuisine you could think of – from traditional local food to gourmet sushi.

Performers were flown in from neighbouring GCC countries to entertain the guests and for the night owls, who danced until the early hours, breakfast was served after 2am. In the run-up to the wedding, the bride herself spent a couple of months in New York with her gown’s designers, going over and over the design of the dress, from its train to the veil and the delicate details.

The bride probably spent more time preparing for the wedding than planning the next stage of her life. But two months after the lavish occasion, the couple filed for divorce, stating they were not compatible. The time spent preparing for the wedding, was longer than the marriage itself.

Just like marriage, running a business and sustaining it is more important than actually launching the venture. In the long run, planning a wedding is an easier task than building a strong marriage. Similarly, in business setting up is relatively easy compared to sustaining your new venture, developing it and growing it. This is probably why I have seen numerous start-ups not make it past the three-year mark.

I met an acquaintance the other day who just six months after launching the design studio she was so passionate about is now considering closing the business at the end of the year. She’d finally realised all about the expense of hiring staff and the high cost of renting an office in a prime location. The thing is, she’d been so excited in the launch phase that she hired left and right without a proper plan. After discussions with her social circle, she agreed not to quit but instead to downsize her expenses by firstly relocating to a cheaper location.

In the beginning we can all be tempted to focus on the logo design, the different paper types for our business cards or the uniforms for the front office staff. As important as this is, if you do not have a vision for your business, a plan of where you want to be in the next few years, then you are in for a challenge.

To avoid burning out too soon, make sure you prepare a two-year plan before you launch. This should factor in all the expected expenses, with a pot set aside for unexpected costs that may arise along the way, such as the need to hire an extra staff member, or money to pay wages if an unexpected downturn happens.

As an entrepreneur, your mission is not just to start your business, but to expand it and for you to grow with it. Invest time in reading, training and keeping up to date with the industry’s latest news. Involve your staff in this routine as well, so that your team develops along with you. Perhaps set aside an hour in the day to meet and discuss the latest industry trend or dedicate your solo reading time to this task. Networking is also part of growing your business. Connections open doors to other connections, exciting new business areas or a whole new geographic territory.

Last but not least, always be on the lookout for new ways to expand your business. Listen to your customers, stay up to the date with other businesses in the industry and watch what they are doing. Also see how you could help expand and grow it, including your business on digital platforms.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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The way products and services are advertised has completely changed. Many clients now ignore traditional media in favour of digital options, bloggers and promoting their wares on social media. From my experience, this can be effective and cost-efficient. It shows that your business is going with the flow.

Advertising on Instagram, for example, is something many of my clients consider. The platform announced last month it now has more than 500,000 advertisers – twice as many as six months ago. For someone who is passionate about advertising and marketing, I find Instagram a little on the overcrowded side when it comes to ads. Not only do I encounter ads as I scroll through my feed, but I run into more – either direct or indirect – from Instagram influencers, aka those with a high number of followers. But perhaps this shows its effectiveness as a channel.

Which takes me to an important point I often discuss with clients: how can a business make its own promotional material stand out? Ultimately, the goal is to have viewers follow your page, visit your website, and most importantly buy your product.

Here’s how to step up your game on Instagram:

Tailor your ad

If you are used to advertising on traditional platforms, such as magazines or newspapers, then the visuals you will use for Instagram must be completely different. What makes Instagram popular is its filters and how people use them to post about their “daily outings” or “daily workouts”. Instagram allows you to either upload a photo or a 60-second video. So as you plan your visual shoots, ensure they are shot in a way that fits the platform they will feature on. Avoid making the images too formal, or making it look as though it has been scanned from a magazine advertisement. Your goal is to have it blend in the feed, so that users actually look at it, and not skip it.

Target the right audience

As you plan your post, be specific about the audience you want to send your message to. Ads on Instagram can target specific users in certain countries who belong to a particular age group. Profile your audience beforehand and then determine those characteristics as you narrow down your audience. Doing this ensures your ad is aimed towards your potential clients, making the process more cost-effective. This takes us back to the first point: knowing who you are targeting and what kind of lifestyle they pursue will help you decide whether your visual ads should be artistic, silly, sophisticated or ultra-trendy. If you are going after teenagers, for example, then your videos should be fun, perhaps featuring a social media blogger they like and avoiding any heavy texts embodied in the video or under the post.

Get straight to the point

In a video, you only have 60 seconds. The first couple of seconds that appear as your users scroll down their feed and run into your ad will determine whether they stay to watch the full advertisement. I recommend skipping intro texts and getting straight to the point. Also ensure that the message can be received with or without audio. Many users may be checking their feed while they are in a meeting, at a conference or in a place where the background noise is too high. If you have important information, such as an offer or a discount, then embed text in the video rather than depend on the audio. This also takes us to the first two lines of your copy that appear under your post. Instagram only allows you to show a couple of lines until a “read more” link directs users to more content. So, ensure the essential message you want to communicate is at the top. Make it punchy and effective.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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The way products and services are advertised has completely changed. Many clients now ignore traditional media in favour of digital options, bloggers and promoting their wares on social media. From my experience, this can be effective and cost-efficient. It shows that your business is going with the flow.

Advertising on Instagram, for example, is something many of my clients consider. The platform announced last month it now has more than 500,000 advertisers – twice as many as six months ago. For someone who is passionate about advertising and marketing, I find Instagram a little on the overcrowded side when it comes to ads. Not only do I encounter ads as I scroll through my feed, but I run into more – either direct or indirect – from Instagram influencers, aka those with a high number of followers. But perhaps this shows its effectiveness as a channel.

Which takes me to an important point I often discuss with clients: how can a business make its own promotional material stand out? Ultimately, the goal is to have viewers follow your page, visit your website, and most importantly buy your product.

Here’s how to step up your game on Instagram:

Tailor your ad

If you are used to advertising on traditional platforms, such as magazines or newspapers, then the visuals you will use for Instagram must be completely different. What makes Instagram popular is its filters and how people use them to post about their “daily outings” or “daily workouts”. Instagram allows you to either upload a photo or a 60-second video. So as you plan your visual shoots, ensure they are shot in a way that fits the platform they will feature on. Avoid making the images too formal, or making it look as though it has been scanned from a magazine advertisement. Your goal is to have it blend in the feed, so that users actually look at it, and not skip it.

Target the right audience

As you plan your post, be specific about the audience you want to send your message to. Ads on Instagram can target specific users in certain countries who belong to a particular age group. Profile your audience beforehand and then determine those characteristics as you narrow down your audience. Doing this ensures your ad is aimed towards your potential clients, making the process more cost-effective. This takes us back to the first point: knowing who you are targeting and what kind of lifestyle they pursue will help you decide whether your visual ads should be artistic, silly, sophisticated or ultra-trendy. If you are going after teenagers, for example, then your videos should be fun, perhaps featuring a social media blogger they like and avoiding any heavy texts embodied in the video or under the post.

Get straight to the point

In a video, you only have 60 seconds. The first couple of seconds that appear as your users scroll down their feed and run into your ad will determine whether they stay to watch the full advertisement. I recommend skipping intro texts and getting straight to the point. Also ensure that the message can be received with or without audio. Many users may be checking their feed while they are in a meeting, at a conference or in a place where the background noise is too high. If you have important information, such as an offer or a discount, then embed text in the video rather than depend on the audio. This also takes us to the first two lines of your copy that appear under your post. Instagram only allows you to show a couple of lines until a “read more” link directs users to more content. So, ensure the essential message you want to communicate is at the top. Make it punchy and effective.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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What makes you happy might not necessarily have the same effect on me. You may be content with a nice walk along the beach, while your friend’s definition of happiness is an afternoon tea at a five-star resort. It is hard to identify what makes others happy, unless they tell us of course. Unhappiness, on the other hand, is easier to identify. You can see it in people’s faces, and their attitudes at work.

Your mood and well-being can have a major effect on your business. Personally, when I am in a great mood I am more productive, creative and do not procrastinate. When I am feeling a little off though, I do not want to be involved in anything.

This matters because your mood not only affects your work, but your business, your office environment and ultimately your income at the end of the year. Unhappy business owners can, unwittingly, pass their negativity on to their team and in return they too feel frustrated and uninspired at work.

A study by Gallup found that employees who rate themselves as happy are 36 per cent more motivated, energised and productive versus those who are not feeling so content.

When it comes to creating your happiness, there is no one size fits all. You need to find out what works for you, then incorporate those elements into your daily routine. However, there are some simple daily habits that will enhance anyone’s mood and general well-being:

• Get enough sleep

A rested body and mind detoxes the mind and lifts your mood, leading to a more productive day. Your concentration is instantly reduced when you do not get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can also contribute towards stress and fatigue, and if left unresolved can lead to long-term health and psychological issues.

• Exercise daily

Exercise releases endorphins, lifting your spirits in the process. Start with a 10-minute daily walk and work up from there. If, like me, you do not like being confined to a gym then take up an activity such as rowing, running, cycling or swimming at your local health club.

• Don’t stress over things you cannot control

In my mind control is an illusion. Some things are simply out of your hands, so do not waste your time and energy trying to change things if changing them is something you cannot possibly do.

• Clear your space

Clutter automatically makes you feel as though everything is out of control. This is something you can control. If you don’t need those papers lying around on your desk, then recycle them or file them away, but do not let them accumulate dust. Make it a habit at the end of every day to clear your space and get rid of things that are not useful any more. It will only take a couple of minutes – much better than letting clutter build up over weeks or months.

• Always maintain a positive outlook on life

You must believe that the best is yet to come. If you don’t, this will transfer to your work, your office environment and ultimately the service or product you offer. If you don’t think there is a bright future ahead for you or for your business, then your office and team members will absorb that too. And when your customers come in, they will also sense that. Energy is contagious and is easily felt, whether it’s negative or positive. We tend to look at past experiences or failures and focus on those, giving them magnitude. This type of focus will prevent you from concentrating on what the present day brings. Learn from your past, but use those lessons to enhance your present and ultimately your future.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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Perhaps one of the perks of working a 9 to 5 job is the guaranteed income at the end of the month. I know this is one reason holding many back from starting their own business. Why endure the stress and hassle when they could do less and still get paid? This is the case of my branding agency owner friend. Her business was doing well for a couple of months, and the next not so much as everyone was away on holiday.

Business can come and go and as a start-up entrepreneur one of the biggest issues you will face is growing your business and expanding your marketing efforts when you do not have a large budget.

Here is some advice on how to turn those slower periods to your advantage:

Firstly, keep your marketing efforts focused, starting by getting to know who your customers are and what they are tuned in to. Put yourself in their shoes. If you personally know some customers, assess what media or social media they tune into the most, where they find out about the latest products, and how they go about sharing interesting content. This will all be helpful for your marketing efforts as you can then reach out directly to them. The great thing here is that because many potential customers are now focused on social media, marketing to them will not cost as much as advertising on a traditional media platform such as TV or a magazine. Done well, your marketing campaign could offer a better return on investment.

Next, be one step ahead of your customer by sharing interesting content. For instance, summer could be a month away, but you could start talking about wardrobe essentials now. Do not make it about you, but rather about them. While time can be an issue when generating content for social media pages and agencies that do this on your behalf can be costly, there are cheaper options. These include hiring bloggers online for a fairly low cost. You can also prepare content in advance and simply upload the photo/post on the day. Alternatively, if you are travelling or too tied up to upload posts or email newsletters at peak times, then automate the process. Tools such as SocialOomph, or Buffer are great for generating social media in advance.

Finally, remember you do not always have to look for new customers to build your business, you can leverage existing ones. Ways to do this include:

– Providing special discounts/benefits to those who refer a friend to your brand.

– Asking loyal customers for feedback/suggestions. The reason they are loyal to your brand is because they love it, and showing your appreciation by asking for their opinion could go a long away. For those who regularly take part or do so thoroughly, a simple thank-you gift, personal letter, or special discount would not only be memorable, but would also encourage similar behaviour in the future. You could also provide them with something that is “social media post”-worthy. A simple note with “We hope you like it. Please share with us @XYZ” could not only land you a mention on their social media pages, but also introduce new clients to your business

– Ensuring you provide personal care and attention at all times: from sending out thank-you emails when they shop with you to a nice card and a special discount on their birthday or bespoke perks and benefits for those who are consistently loyal.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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A good friend of mine has been working for the same small business for over four years now. I often ask her if she thinks it is time for a change. She shrugs and says “no”, adding that she is treated well, she is continuously learning, her manager cares about her professional development and regularly sends her on training courses and that work feels like a second home to her. When her company goes through a rough time, she says she feels as if it is her own company, and puts in the time and effort, along with the management, to try to turn things around.

While some might argue that employees can become too loyal to the company, or perhaps are too lazy and too comfortable to change jobs, that does not always ring true. Yes, it applies in some instances especially for those that get paid really well for little work in return, but for my friend, it is a simple case of wanting to do well because she is treated well by her employer.

“Treat others the way you would like to be treated”, is a saying many of us heard growing up. In our personal lives, sure we would think twice before hurting someone. But when it comes to business, how many entrepreneurs actually follow that rule? How often are ethics aligned with our financial ambitions?

Come to think about it, applying that rule to all aspects of business life makes a lot of sense. Treat your customers right, and they will come back for more. Treat your employees right, and they will be dedicated and motivated to push your company forward with you. In his book The Good Jobs Strategy, Zeynep Ton, discusses how treating staff well leads to excellence.

Another textbook example is that of an acquaintance of mine who manages a branding agency. He provided his staff with benefits, never asked them to work on weekends and treated them as partners instead of subordinates. What he ended up with was a team that not only showed up to do their jobs, but were constantly looking for ways to push the business forward, land new clients, generate profit or help the wider community.

In business, your reputation is just as important as earning profit. Money comes and goes, but once a good reputation is tarnished, it takes more than money to restore it.

Here’s how you to ensure you apply the golden rule of how to treat others to your business:

• Prioritise clients

When you start your business, you will find yourself dedicating time to providing great customer service. But with many companies, as they grow this focus starts to diminish. A friend complained about a local designer who now takes more than four months to deliver an abaya, rather than the two weeks it used to take when she had a smaller client base. Because she no longer responds to customers in a timely manner, she is losing business as a result.

• Keep your workforce happy

This requires less than you think. An occasional acknowledgement for the work your staff has put in goes a long way. Treat them to a celebratory work lunch every time you achieve your targets. It is easy to know which companies treat their employees well. The staff are happier, turnover is lower, and their reputation precedes them.

As a business owner, I have seen first-hand how applying the rule to these two areas can go a long way. You will end up with a team that shares your vision and is dedicated to achieving it. Do not only apply this philosophy to customer service, but to every aspect of your business – it will lead to sustainable growth for your business, one where trust in you comes not only from your staff but also your clients.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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When it comes to building your business, redesigning your brand or entering into a partnership with another entrepreneur, the process will not be free of challenges. It’s vital to keep this in mind from the outset and, more importantly, to expect the unexpected.

Sometimes it does not matter how much you prepare, things can come up that push back your deadline, shift your process or perhaps lead you to rethink your business altogether.

I recently helped a client with the branding of a food & beverage business that was not exclusive to the UAE, but set to be launched simultaneously across the Gulf. Everything was planned and ready. Then just a few days before the launch, she was presented with a challenge that completely changed the course of her business plan. She later joined forces with another entrepreneur to launch her products.

Things like this happen all the time, even when you have everything set up and are only weeks away from the big launch. It is human nature to seek the easy way out of everything. If presented with options, most of us would seek the simple road. Yes, you might sleep better at night and your skills may be enhanced but would you grow?

Change your perspective and you will see how challenges are a great educational opportunity. I personally have learnt enormously by challenging clients and situations. I have them to thank for enhancing my problem-solving skills when I was presented with problems that emerged as a result of dealing with them, working under pressure, and broadening my creativity.

Here’s how to keep your cool and relieve stress when unexpected challenges arise:

• The solution is already out there

You are most likely not the first to be facing such a challenge. An entrepreneur you know must have gone through the same thing. If you know people in the industry, take some time to meet them and seek their advice. If you have a mentor, then turn to that person now. Alternatively, do your research. A simple search online often presents multiple answers. If you are uncomfortable discussing your personal challenges, do so anonymously in the countless online business forums, where entrepreneurs meet to discuss related topics. If you have a role model in your field, like a successful businessperson who has a blog or published some books, then read that as well. You will relate to them and also learn from their experience, and apply their tips to your business.

• It is not really as hopeless as it seems

Sometimes it seems the only solution is to get on a plane and leave all this behind. Perhaps you are wondering why you even started this business. Maybe your public sector job was not such a bad idea. It is fine. It is normal. The thing is, no matter how hopeless your situation is, there is a way out of it, but you may need to be more open to it. Perhaps you are expecting the solution to emerge from one channel, but not any other. Keep an open mind and look for answers in places you did not consider looking into before.

• Do not bury your head in the sand, get out

When an entrepreneur friend of mine faced a problem, she would lock herself in her office trying to find the solution. From experience, that never serves you well. When it all feels too much, just leave it and go off and do something you enjoy. Seek out members of your network for a coffee and talk about the issue. You could be surprised at how fast you can find a way around the problem if you just move faster and seek the advice of others.

Last but not least, remember your mental state and energy levels will affect any issues you face. Instead of thinking the situation is impossible, change your position and believe there is an answer. From there, you will find it. You will be surprised at how different solutions will surface once you put yourself in the right mindset.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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