Dubai: The next wave of UAE entrepreneurs will come up with a “digital twist” to old ways of doing business.
There will be “digital business models with a strong focus on convenience and a connection to a traditional approach,” said Dr Michael Kloep, senior lecturer at Middlesex University Dubai. “There’s an app for roadside assistance (Stukk), a telemedicine solution (AlemHealth) and, of course, Heroleads, a digital customer generation solution for offline businesses.”
The coronavirus pandemic has set off deep concerns about where economies are headed short-term, but on the flip side, also created opportunities for online-focussed opportunities.
In the GCC, e-commerce penetration made up less than 4 per cent of retail sales, but should soon start making up ground.
“Diverse platforms and marketplaces like Uget, a platform that connects travellers to carry goods on behalf of shoppers for a fee, or Eureeca, a crowdfunding platform are rising,” said Kloep.
Not everyone has to start out big, with millions of dirhams in seed funding.
“The potential opportunities you can identify from COVID-19 are remote fitness, telemedicine, telelaw or home-office furniture… to mention a view,” he added.
For those entrepreneurs who are struggling, Kloep has advice. “A sustainable businesses is a 10-year success story.” He said, citing a Goldman Sachs survey that found that 50 per cent of small business owners said their business will not be able to continue to operate beyond three months.
“This means moving forward with a healthy mindset is essential,” Kloep says. “Delaying decisions will lead to more problems. This means the big challenge is to deal with information overload and overcoming analysis-paralysis.”
It’s critical to understand that decisions are never final. “It is important to keep up with legislation as the business landscape is changing at a rapid pace. Governments will release new regulations that affect business owners. With this in mind, focus on your most valuable assets - your health, your customers and your employees.
“Just like the captain of a boat needs to be physically and mentally fit to steer in a storm, your physical and mental health needs to be strengthened as this is essential to perform well.”