|Business Consulting - Teaching the Leaders how to lead|
Where does your drive to support and help other entrepreneurs come from?
My parents were both entrepreneurs and as I grew up I realized the freedom that entrepreneurship gives to the owners and their families. Although my time in the corporate world was an incredible learning experience, the entrepreneurial gene had never gone away and I felt strangely trapped. By running my own business, I am now able to realize that freedom once again and ensure that our clients never become trapped.
What experiences in your career have prepared you to help others?
I have been very fortunate to have had a number of world class mentors during my career, where I have able to take and apply best practice across multiple disciplines across the organization. Having also carried out a variety of roles within many varied organizations, I am able to bring expertise to the board table of our clients. My keen interest in building leaders allows me to apply those techniques and learnings to local business owners and their teams.
What has been more taxing work? Managing Starbucks and Al Tayer, or teaching others how to manage their own enterprise?
It’s a very interesting question as you would think that having a corporate structure, excellent brands, access to finance, large senior management team, a PA, and of course a regular salary coming in that the running of a corporate business would be fairly stress free; Afraid not! I am very grateful and fortunate to have worked with some top quality companies and brands over my career but there was always a higher calling, to bring all that I had learned for the benefit of business owners in the UAE who had not had the benefit of being taught so well in a structured corporate environment. So, in contrast it is far less taxing for me to bring my learnings to others trying to manage their own enterprises due to the immense fulfillment it gives me to do so and see their businesses and people grow. It results in them regaining the freedom they were seeking when they first started up their own business rather than being, as many owners find themselves, trapped in a business they don’t recognize any more and not sure about what to do next.
Tell us about the Gazelles strategy that you specialize in?
Gazelles International is a worldwide coaching association composed on independent executive business coaches assisting growth companies with the development of the One Page Strategic Plan and implementation of the Four Decisions ™ (People, Strategy, Execution & Cash) that businesses have to get right in order to grow and scale. The tools and methodology are based on the book ‘Scaling UP, Mastering the Rockefeller habits 2.0’ by Gazelles founder, Verne Harnish.
Gazelles International coaches are many of the most experienced, most effective executive coaches in the world. They support growth companies and business units across the globe. Certified coaches undergo at least 45 annual hours of continuing education received directly from mid-level market thought leaders.
What’s your step-by-step process of helping out a new business? Are there any failsafe tricks that fledgling entrepreneurs must know?
We begin all our engagements with an in-depth diagnostic stage where we assess the talent, motivations, and behaviors of the C-suite executives that we will be working with. We then use the Gazelles growth roadmap to take the team through a step-by-step process introducing a variety of methodologies and growth tools over the course of 12 months. This process can be used both with established companies where a tailored individual program will be applied, we also run The Scaling Up Club for smaller businesses where different organizations come together once a month and follow the same process as the corporate program.
Interestingly there are no failsafe tricks or magic bullets for entrepreneurs to follow, however we do apply the most relevant thought leadership methodologies and tools with our clients to ensure we increase the chances of success.
How do you measure the growth of a business? How does your training focus on said growth?
We recommend that a focus on gross margins is a more robust measure of top line growth than pure revenue, so rather than focusing on the vanity of revenue we very much focus our clients on the sanity of profit and the importance of showing a positive cash flow. Our program focuses on growth in two main ways by splitting strategic planning into two parts: strategic thinking which focuses on the core business and longer term growth beyond the current year, and execution planning which focuses on growth initiatives for the current year.
What are some of the most common problems that you’re witnessing with most businesses here?
Here are the top three problems that we have found:
Over the years, has it become easier to succeed here as a new business or have challenges increased just like the competition? Is it particularly harder for SMEs?
It has in fact become harder over the years to succeed as a new or existing business due to a multitude of reasons including challenges of differentiating your value proposition in relation to your competition, who are trying to attract similar customer segments as yourself. The advantage larger business has over SMEs is generally the availability of funds to enable businesses to pivot between successive business models.
In your time here, what have you learned about the business climate in the UAE? How does it contrast with the other places you’ve been?
The climate in the UAE is an extremely positive one driven by the leadership’s ‘can-do-and-will-do’ attitude. This drives a positivity through the SME sector giving budding entrepreneurs the increased confidence to either start up or continue to scale up their business.
The existence of so many different nationalities in a relatively small country brings its own leadership challenges for business owners as they try to create high performing executive teams.
The UAE contrasts to many parts of the world where we have worked where the glass tends to be half empty rather than half full as it is here.
What are some of the popular markets for ventures here? What advice would you have for any new entrepreneur irrespective of the market they want to enter?
Following the last financial crisis there has been a definite shift towards people freeing themselves from corporate life and joining the knowledge worker revolution – we have seen an increase in the number of people entering the coaching/consulting space across many sectors such as IT, marketing, leadership, and sales.
My advice for future entrepreneurs would be:
Surely not everyone is cut out to run their own business. How should people self-assess their potential? Are you seeing an increase in the blue-ocean mindset as opposed to the red-ocean one?
I agree that not everyone is cut out to run their own business and in fact many should not consider to do so – there is an ideal profile that will increase the chances of success of someone succeeding in running their own business based not only on their behavior but also on what really drives them internally. We recommend the use of a psychometric profiling tool to diagnose the potential.
There is definitely a drive towards making the competition irrelevant by focusing on the creation of new market space, we see this happening at a faster rate year after year due to not only the blue-ocean strategy work but also in the way that technology is driving change at a higher velocity, with faster computers building faster computers. It is the skill of keeping up with the pace of change that is becoming the prime key success factor.
Do you think the UAE will continue to become more entrepreneurial in the future or is it just a phase?
It’s the same in the UAE as well as the rest of the world that entrepreneurial growth will continue as large corporates consolidate releasing senior executives into the market. Also, as millennials continue to enter the workplace, their tolerance for the traditional corporate environment is less than the previous generation’s and they seek freedom from 9 to 5, job description driven roles, and seek the attraction of working under their own terms.