“I didn’t have a good relationship with money until I started my own business,” said Christiana Maxion, 33, a native New Yorker. She grew up in a family of entrepreneurs that inspired her to become her boss and start a business at a young age.
She founded a Dubai-based professional matchmaking business in 2021. “I spent every penny I made and put more on credit cards. I only learnt the value of money when I started earning my own money and solely relying on myself.”
“A couple of months into my business, I saw a therapist help me re-wire my brain and relationship with money. The hypnotherapy session worked wonders and has helped me save more money and make and attract more opportunities for success and growth in my business.”
I only learnt the value of money when I started earning my own money and solely relying on myself.
“My current strategy for savings isn’t crystal clear yet because I have a growing business and need to assess and invest in many things at the moment. But I have big aspirations to be the leading matchmaking business in the GCC region for the next 50 years and beyond.”
Money rule #1: Treat money with love and care by attracting, saving, and investing.
Maxion confessed she had a terrible relationship with money. “I spent every penny I made, but now that I am making my own money and building my empire, I cherish every dirham made. I now count and know where each dirham goes, and I treat money with love and care by attracting, saving and investing it.”
“My investment plan now involves saving for pleasurable moments (not a rainy day) and investing more in my business as I am in the early stages of expansion.”
Maxion comes from a background of entrepreneurs in her family.
Maxion’s grandfather started his career as a school teacher, then later started his security business, which evolved into a successful family business of over one hundred parking garages across New York City.
Her father was a professional baseball player who played for the Major League Baseball. “After he retired from baseball, he went into the family garage business but decided to carve his path in working for New York state as an athletic director.”
“He inherited his entrepreneurial spirit from his father, and my parents decided to open up a series of pizza restaurants up and down the US east coast.”
She shares her journey into entrepreneurship with a qualification in finance and professional studies in education.
Maxion said, “I started my professional career as a wealth management intern with Merrill Lynch and quickly decided that Finance was not the route I wanted to take.”
My achievements as an athlete allowed me to coach others at a young age, eventually leading to my career in education
“My first job was as a springboard diving coach at country clubs in Westchester, New York. I was an athlete for most of my young life and competed as a springboard diver all over the US, Canada, and China. My achievements as an athlete allowed me to coach others at a young age, eventually leading to my career in education.”
“I was an athlete for most of my life and loved coaching and working with young children. I worked as a first-grade and kindergarten teacher at a school in New York, before moving to Abu Dhabi in 2016.”
She started her UAE career as a kindergarten educator, quickly climbed the ladder and began mentoring and training teachers across the UAE. “Whilst in Abu Dhabi, I also published the children’s book ‘Toby and The Falcon’, which was featured at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair and the Emirates Literature Festival.”
She moved to Dubai and worked a similar job before deciding to end her career in education and start the business.
“I know that working as a teacher in a school is a noble profession, but what I learned from this job is that I craved more freedom, finances, and authority. I knew I possessed the skills to create a business, and learned all of my lessons from working in the charter, corporate, and private schools sector to hone my leadership and intrapersonal skills.”
I know that working as a teacher in a school is a noble profession, but what I learned from this job is that I craved more freedom, finances, and authority
Why did you choose professional matchmaking as a business idea?
Maxion enjoyed helping others through relationship advice, was successful in matching people to careers, connecting others for business opportunities, and helping people find their marriage partners.
“I saw a real gap in the market here for a service like this which is quite popular in the US and South Asian countries. I decided to study and invest in myself and the craft to start this business here."
“I consulted a legal team to see if this business was possible. And to my delight, the legal team approved the nature of the business in compliance with UAE laws, in September 2021, and I made a move to open my business.
“My company has seen great growth quickly, and we are excited to expand our services to across the UAE.”
What were the expenses involved in your business?
Maxion started her business ‘Christiana Maxion Solutions’ in 2021, when she was 32. “I self-funded my business with a small amount in savings and credit cards, and I am so grateful to have been able to pay off all of the initial investments through the business’s early success.”
Their expenses were investments in education, programs, mentoring, and business setup. “I spent on certifications and programs: Dh26,000, business mentoring: Dh49,500, and business setup: Dh16,000. The largest expense was time, effort, and dedication in perfecting my craft, networking, and tweaking packages offered that is priceless.”
Entrepreneurship tip #1: Invest in experts to save time and money.
She said, “Investing in mentors and consultants has helped me succeed in setting up a business in the UAE. With their help, I could find real solutions and answers from credible sources that helped ease the business setup process here.”
I self-funded my business with a small amount in savings and credit cards, and I've been able to pay off all of the initial investments
She has lived in the UAE for almost six years. “This country accelerated my previous career in education in ways that would have never happened in New York. What’s great about this country is that your promotions and titles are based on skill and merit rather than just years of experience or age.”
Entrepreneurship tip #2: Engage in a trial collaboration when considering a business partnership.
She said, “I built this concept and company from zero, and people have shown interest in partnering and investment since month two. Many people are reaching out to collaborate and partner with the company’s great success and popularity.”
“I know I have a gold mine in the city of gold. I want to hold on to that and the uniqueness of my company as long as I can. After both parties feel confident in one another, my rule for future opportunities is to engage in a trial collaboration. It’s important not to ‘give away the house’ at such an early stage.”
Entrepreneurship tip #3: For a solo-preneur, a financial plan is essential.
She recommended starting with a simple excel spreadsheet that tracks every dirham spent and earned. “It has helped me gain control of my budgets, investments, and savings and understand the business’s ins and outs. And when I speak to future collaborators and investors, I’m on my A-game.
Currently, she is saving for expanding her business, and she aims to expand into the GCC region by the end of 2024.
“Each month, I have different earnings and expenses, but my general rule of thumb is anything not spent, whether 50 or 20 per cent of earnings, goes immediately into my savings account for future re-investment back into the business. I also stand by the motto: save for a happy occasion and not a rainy day.”