Issue 1 - December 2012
Success Secrets of the
Rapid Growth CEOâ€™s Reading Financial Statements
Intoduction to the Cloud Essential Computer Security Checks Mobile Office Gadgets Are you Fit for Business? Food for Thought
7 Killer Money
How to Make More
Skills of the Perfect Employee
Top Reasons Why SMEs Fail
Editor’s Foreword If you are passionate about driving your business forward, then welcome to DMCC’s ‘Business Insight Magazine’, which we believe will provide you with ‘the unfair advantage’ over your competitors. Our core focus is on business development & education. Business Insight is like no other business magazine in the Region. Rather than riding the bandwagon and looking at the economic car crash in the rear-view mirror, we focus on the road ahead.
Rapid Growth CEO’s Reading Financial Statements
Intoduction to the Cloud Essential Computer Security Checks
Every issue of Business Insight provides you with the tools, knowledge, insight, and ‘how-to’ of getting the best from your staff, saving money, increasing efficiency, profitability and growth. Moving into first gear, overleaf, on page 6, is a must-see for every business owner – ‘Why SMEs Fail’, which details the early warning signs for business failure and how to mitigate against those factors – it is one of my favourite editorials in this issue. Then, take the next right to an article that should interest every driven business owner - ‘How to Make More Money’. I know you don’t need to be hand-held through what that means, but there may be some money-making, time-saving and cost-efficiency surprises for you! The quality of your staff and their performance levels is the very engine powering any company. Look out for ‘The 7 Killer Skills of the Perfect Employee’ on page 26 if you’re curious about how your people match up. I’ll see you later in the magazine, but for now, I also just wanted to steer you towards the ‘Success Series’ on page 13. Here we interview three very different CEOs who have achieved extraordinary growth…and they’ve told us the secrets of their success, just to pass on to you! If you haven’t already embraced cloud computing, then on page 34, I have demystified all the jargon and show you how you can enjoy the full throttle computing power that the large corporations enjoy, but on a pay-per-usage basis, that also saves you money in other, perhaps more unexpected ways. There is more for you to discover for yourself in this issue. If you’re up for tinkering under the bonnet of your business and learning how to accelerate your growth and development, then buckle up and lets take this ride! All the best,
Talk to me at email@example.com and let me know what information you need to take your business forward – and I’ll try to help in the next issue!
Issue 1 - December 2012
Success Secrets of the
Mobile Office Gadgets
7 Killer Money
How to Make More
Skills of the Perfect Employee
Are you Fit for Business? Food for Thought
Top Reasons Why SMEs Fail
Biz_In_Nov 2012.indd 1
Business Insight Magazine
11/28/12 3:51 PM
Published by: Redcorp, DMCC Associate Publisher: Nuria Gonzalez Martin Editor: Kay Marham Director of Marketing & Corporate Communications: Sandra Vetter Sloan Business Development Manager: Brendan Bosley Administration: Janice Porte Art Director: Mohsin Rawal Printing: UPP Printers Distribution: Blue Truck For information on advertising rates & positioning: Please contact Brendan Bosley – Tel. +971 4 375 4619 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org For editorial schedule & article submission: Please contact Kay Marham – Tel. +971 4 375 4121 Email: email@example.com
©Copyright 2012 Redcorp. While the publishers have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information within this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors or omissions contained herein. Views of editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher. All rights reserved.
OPERATIONS Page 6 - 10
Why SMEs Fail
TECH Page 32 - 33
A Guide To Office Telecommunications
Page 14 - 15
Interview - Fadi Malas CEO of Just Falafel
WELLBEING Page 37 - 38
Food for Thought
Page 19 - 21
How to Make More Money
THE HUB Page 50 - 51
Reading Financial Statements
Page 26 -27
The 7 Killer Skills of The Perfect Employee
Tech Operations 11
Turning Inventory into Assets
Interview - Ravi Bhusari Co-Founder of Duplays
Interview - Khurshid Vakil CEO of Marina Home Interiors
Health Insurance - Does it Live up to the Promise?
How to Write a Good Reference
How to Give an Employee Appraisal
First Aid for Computer Problems
Essential Computer Security Checks
An Introduction to Cloud Computing
Wellbeing Common Office Injuries & Prevention
Are You Fit For Business?
The Hub Networking and the Business Card
A Lesson Through Humour
The Office Xmas Party - Cost v Return
Book Review - ‘Connect the Dots’
Mobile Office Gadgets
Why do SMEs Fail? W
hile most of the challenges that your business will face are foreseeable, some will be utterly unpredictable. The causes of business failure are many and various and in most cases, it is a complex combination of causes that contribute to the failure of an SME. Familiarise yourself with the following insights to help mitigate these threats to your business. Internal causes of business failure Internal problems that are threat to a business are more likely to be predictable than external factors, over which you may have no control. You can therefore anticipate and plan for the following: 1. Poor management This is the most commonly occurring ‘internal’ factor in business failure among SMEs. Even other internal causes of business failure are often linked to poor management.
Many SME owners/managers however do not always have skills and experience in areas such as business planning, financial reporting, marketing, customer relations and financial management.
If your business is to succeed, you need be alert to the factors that can have a material impact on its viability
Most small businesses are set up by one entrepreneur, or a small group of them, who have what they believe is a good idea for creating a product or service.
come in, swim out to meet it!” Jonathan Winters
Solution: Seek external advice You should seek advice from professionally qualified accountants regularly, beginning at the start up phase, and continuing through all the stages of your business life. The key role of professionally qualified accountants is accounting, financial planning and credit management. Book keeping and financial reporting practices will be done according to recognised accounting principles and sound business practice, in order to produce high quality financial information. This sets the ground for the efficient and effective growth and the survival of your business. You also need to be aware of the benefits of acquiring basic financial management skills, to take advantage of any opportunities of growth, anticipate any threats to the survival of the business and be able to react to them promptly.
“If your ship doesn’t
The company is at risk when you, as management, do not possess the appropriate knowledge and either do not recognise this lack of expertise, or are not willing to ask for advice.
If you haven’t already done so, you should look to take courses that further/broaden your management education, preferably before starting out in business. Also see page 50 for our article on ‘Reading Financial Statements’. 2. Poor accounting Business decisions need to be supported by good quality financial information, which needs to be relevant, accurate, user-friendly and always available. Poor accounting and reporting, and decisions based upon inaccurate or incorrect financial information,
OPERATIONS can cause problems which may threaten the solvency of your business.
reason, bad debts may have a more dramatic impact on SMEs than on larger businesses.
Poor accounting increases the risk of your identifying problems too late. Elements such as excessive fixed and variable costs and decrease in sales, etc., if not properly recognised, can lead to damage to the solvency of your business.
Solution: Take pre-emptive action Delegate partial responsibility to the salespeople to keep an eye on the payment aspect of their accounts. By fostering good relationships with clients via the sales team, just a simple matter of checking with the client that payment will be made on time is sufficient and useful in alerting you to any possible problems.
Poor accounting practices can also hugely affect your operations and cashflow; the most obvious problem being that you cannot cover your payment obligations. The ultimate result of poor cashflow management is a lack of working capital to run your day-to-day business. Solution: Planning, budgeting and forecasting Planning, budgeting and forecasting are vital tools for SMEs. A well-run business should have the monthly planning, financial controls and reviews in place to monitor the business plans and an information system that regularly updates you, the management, on the progress towards your objectives. Giving yourself these controls should provide you with an early warning if your trading performance is deteriorating. It will also provide pointers to the steps that should be taken to correct the situation. One example is to monitor your forecasted sales compared to your actual sales. This enables you to address any shortfalls directly with the staff accountable, which you can do on a weekly basis, to catch problems early. 3. Over-dependency on customers/suppliers Relying excessively on either just one main, or only a few customers or suppliers, poses very high risks to any business. If your only customer becomes insolvent, or cancels orders, your sales and gross margin are immediately impacted, putting the whole future of your business at risk. The same applies with dependence on only one supplier; in the event of a sudden supply failure or breakdown of the commercial relationship, your business could be at risk. Solution: Business development planning At the outset make a database of alternative suppliers, ensuring that you have key information such as company details, contact names and credit terms. Ask their sales reps to keep in regular contact with you so that you can form a relationship with them and be ready to move quickly, should the need arise.
Preparing a strategic business plan is an important step in developing a long-term view of where your business is going and how you plan to get there
“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary”
Alternatively, allocate a designated diary day to make your customer care calls and ensure that clients are happy with your services. In doing this you give yourself a good context in which to check that payments will be made when they fall due and also keep also abreast of any client problems that may affect prompt payment. 5. Overtrading When your company expands and grows rapidly by taking on more commitments than you are able to service, the survival of your business is put at risk. Solution: Strategic plans Preparing a strategic business plan is an important step in developing a long-term view of where your business is going and how you plan to get there. It is particularly relevant at critical times during your development phases. The key issues to be addressed in a strategic business plan include: Key marketing issues: • The products or services currently offered and the potential developments to your offerings • The customer base and how it might be expanded • The distribution channels and supplier-base currently employed, and alternative strategies for the future Key financial issues: • The current level of funding and the requirements for future developments • The anticipated profitability and cashflow of the business • The current and future return to investors • Business plans must be a constant reference point
When signing contracts with key suppliers, ensure that penalty clauses for non-delivery are stated within the contract, and no matter how long your trading history with them, always check to see that the deliverables will be made on time and to contract. 4. Bad debt Impending bad debt is one of the possible causes of business failure that can be predicted in advance. Bad debts can increase if your customers’ business becomes untenable. The main problem for SMEs though, may be in actually identifying the potential bad debts and being able to reduce them. In many SMEs, there is no in-house department that is able to focus on regular credit control and follow up on accounts that should be of concern. For this
OPERATIONS 7. Fraud/collusion Fraud in the workplace can be categorised in 3 ways: asset misappropriation, corruption and fraudulent statements. The most typical case of fraud is the one committed by employees; namely by falsifying expenses reports, or stealing small unit-value items, such as stationery or cleaning products. If these thefts happen regularly, and are left uncontrolled, they can lead to significant losses. Collusion with stakeholders of the business can also have serious consequences. For example, an employee might make a secret agreement with a supplier, whereby the employee accepts money for the so-called ‘favour’. Similar covert agreements can also be made by an employee and a customer, whereby the employee arranges to supply more goods or services than specified on the invoice, in return for payment. It is always worth remembering that fraud can also be perpetrated by one of the business partners themselves, a spouse, or by a trusted advisor.
for the management, and updated periodically as your business progresses towards its goals. 6. Poor marketing and research A lack of adequate and appropriate market research is a frequent cause of businesses failure amongst SMEs. Market research is needed to: • Help identify customers • Understand the market size and potential • Determine what price customers might be prepared to pay; and • Indicate the demand for the product or service Research will also inform you about your competitors and their likely response to a new entrant to the marketplace. In a new business this information is vital to enable you to calculate whether you will make sufficient gross margins to cover your overheads and make an adequate profit.
“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalise on what comes”
You need to be constantly aware of how your marketplace is changing, what your competitors are doing, who the potential new entrants to the marketplace are, and how they will affect your business. Solution: Remain market-aware Take an honest inventory of your business strengths and weaknesses, and if marketing is not a your strong point, invest in outsourced expertise. A good marketing agency need not be expensive and can help to establish cost-effective social media channels to conduct ongoing market research and attain feedback from your customer base. This is vitally important, as a business is a growing and evolving entity that must never be allowed to stagnate or become distanced from its market. If you are at start-up stage, do your own online research into competitors and sign up for their online newsletters, Facebook pages etc. to keep in touch with their latest offerings. Market research is your responsibility, so approach it proactively. Check out our interview on page 14 with Fadi Malas, CEO of Just Falafel, who offers insights into the ‘why and how’ of using social media for market research purposes.
Solution: Visible fraud deterrent and prevention policies Deterrent measures A clear policy on punishment, criminal prosecution and dismissal for any acts of fraud or collusion should be made clear to all employees at commencement of their work contract. Prevention measures There is high value in implementing internal controls such as internal audits and micro management, for both preventing and detecting fraud. Your internal control system should have 4 objectives: 1. Safeguard your assets 2. Ensure the accuracy and reliability of your accounting records and information 3. Promote your own company’s efficiency 4. Measure compliance with your company’s policies and procedures Prevention of fraud starts with identifying your weaknesses and exposures, thereby allowing you to make the necessary improvements and be prepared to enforce those controls. These measures warn the potential fraudsters that you are actively monitoring the business, which itself acts as a deterrent.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”
External causes of business failure Events over which you have no influence can easily cause your business to fail over the long run. The most common unpredictable external factors are: 1. The economy A recession in the economy, either at local or global level, is an ‘external factor’. A sudden decline in your specific field of business activity can also cause the failure of your business. Other possible issues, generally related to market economy, which might threaten business failure, are: • Change of customer buying patterns • Decreasing purchasing power of consumers or groups of consumers • Shortage of raw materials: often linked to a significant increase of costs. This may cause
Avoiding Business Failure Pre-emptive action Businesses rarely fail suddenly. Failure is a gradual process that usually involves a downward spiral. However, sometimes failure results from ambitious expansion plans that are not met with the appropriate level of finance. It should be stressed that you need to have a proactive approach, implementing any necessary measures as soon as financial problems become apparent.
deadlines related to production and supply to be missed Low price competitors: they usually try to convert market segments by ‘dumping prices’. They produce products more cheaply than other competitors, or are subsidised Substitution products: they often lead to changes in the market and consumer buying preferences
2. Catastrophic/unpredictable events Natural disasters such as fires, floods, earthquakes and terrorism cannot normally be foreseen in advance. The only possible way to cover such risks is to diligently insure against them, especially if the region in which your business operates is regularly prone to environmental disasters. Even in this case, any delay in securing the indemnity from the insurance company may damage the cashflow of your business. It is worth also talking to your insurer about cover for sudden serious illness or incapacitation. 3. Governmental/international developments You can not always predict these kinds of developments, so it’s a good idea for you to always keep up to date with geopolitical, economic and current affairs. Track the media, both print and online news resources such as Zawya, Reuters and WAM. 4. Bankruptcy of a main customer or supplier Whenever customers or suppliers are experiencing financial problems, they will almost certainly pass on their problems to your business. For instance, if your main customer is no longer able to pay their bills on time, you will be short of cash and will start having problems in paying your own suppliers. In mitigation, offer the credit terms that best meet your needs, which can include a 50% payment upon order, with the balance due upon delivery of the service. You can also offer a prepayment discount to incentivise early payment. In the case of manufacturing companies, where the sole supplier goes bankrupt, no more goods will be received, causing a halt in the production process. The same will apply with services or retail companies, which will no longer be able to meet their sales and delivery commitments whenever the sole supplier is failing. The bankruptcy of a sole supplier will obviously threaten the ongoing relationships of your business with its customers.
A word about financial management… Financial management is the process of managing the financial resources, including accounting and financial reporting, budgeting, collecting accounts receivable, risk management and insurance for a business. The financial management system for a small business includes both how you are financing it as well as how you manage the money in the business. In setting up a financial management system your first decision is whether you will manage your financial records yourself, or whether you will have someone else do it for you. There are a number of alternative ways you can handle this: • You can manage everything yourself • Hire an employee who manages it for you • Keep your records in house • Have an accountant prepare the specialised reporting • Engage an external bookkeeping service that manages financial transactions, and an accountant that handles formal reporting functions • Purchase a software package for handling bookkeeping and accounting Accountants and bookkeepers ‘Bookkeeping’ refers to the daily operation of an accounting system, and recording routine transactions within the appropriate accounts. An ‘accounting system’ defines the process of identifying, measuring, recording and communicating financial information about the business. So in a sense, the bookkeeping function is a subset of the accounting system. A bookkeeper compiles the information that goes into the system. An accountant takes the data and analyses it in ways that give you useful information about your business. They can advise you on the systems needed for your particular business and prepare accurate reports certified by their credentials. While software packages are readily available to meet almost any accounting need, having an accountant to at least review your records can lend credibility to your business, especially when dealing with lending institutions and Government agencies. Setting up an accounting system, collecting bills, paying employees and suppliers correctly and on time are all part of running a business. Furthermore, unless accounting is the nature of your business, it is often the bane of the some business owners. Setting up a system that does what you need, with the minimum of maintenance, can make running a business not only more pleasant, but it can save you from problems down the road.
Turning Inventory into Assets T
he global financial crisis has had a profound impact on many industries and countries around the world. Turning the tables has been a daunting task for many, particularly the SME sector, who have struggled to bounce back due to tightened liquidity in the market and a shortage of working capital. Fortunately, as the landscape is changing, so is the business environment. This new reality has forced global financial institutions to rethink their existing models and focus on greater risk mitigation. New opportunities are presenting themselves for trading companies to make use of their inventory and utilise it to its full potential. Register ownership of the goods Inventory that is sitting idle is often viewed as an unproductive resource that will cost money in storage and insurance. There are, however, ways to make inventory work and turn these idle resources into assets.
An inventory is a list of goods and materials that a business holds in stock
An asset is anything owned that has exchangeable value
The first step is to register the ownership with a document of title. Possessing a document of title legally represents the ownership of the goods that are described within the document. This can come in the form of a warrant, which is issued by the warehouse keeper, stating that the goods held in the warehouse are of the specified quantity and will remain so while stored at their facility. This warrant is then listed on a central registry, which means the goods are accounted for and secured against any damage or losses incurred by the warehouse. US and UK models The concept of warehouse receipts or warrants has been around for a long time. In the United States, warehouse receipts (a document of title, supported by legislation) are widely utilised in agricultural trade, particularly in the cotton industry. Warehouses storing the cotton would issue negotiable warehouse receipts showing the weight, storage date and tare of the goods. By contrast, in the UK, a warehouse receipt is a nonnegotiable instrument not considered a document of title; where a document of title comes in the form of a warehouse warrant issued by warehouses nominated by entities such as the London Metal Exchange. Therefore, the level of security banks feel when lending against warehouse receipts very much depends on the laws in that particular country. Once you are able to represent legal title of your goods, you can then use it in several ways. First, you are able to transfer ownership of the assets to another person, without the goods ever leaving the storage facility. You can also use the assets as underlying collateral to secure more favorable financing. This will significantly reduce risks for the banks, which will in turn result in greater liquidity in the market.
How does this concept help SMEs in the Gulf? “Dubai, the UAE and indeed the entire MENA region have never before been ready for trade finance as today,” explains Paul Boots, Director of DMCC Tradeflow. “With a mandate to enhance commodity trade flows, DMCC has created an extensive network of traders, banks, financiers and service providers for the purpose.” In February 2012, to stimulate greater liquidity, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) launched DMCC Tradeflow, the electronic system that provides access to the central registry of ownership for goods stored in Dubai. Through the platform, electronic documents of title (DMCC Tradeflow Warrants) are issued by warehouse companies and collateral managers on behalf of the owners that have stored goods in their warehouse. The platform allows trading companies to secure financing by using goods that are stored in Dubai as collateral for working capital loans. DMCC acts as the registrar and legally registers the beneficial ownership of these goods, allowing for fully enforceable pledges to be created in favour of the lender. Since the launch of DMCC Tradeflow, many companies have used the platform to secure financing for their businesses. For companies with a tangible inventory, this new platform provides low-risk financing that can help business grow, and in turn, stimulate liquidity in the marketplace. “As the Region grows so will the demand for commodities. Commodity traders across the Region, starting with Dubai and the UAE, can ride the strong fundamentals to tap into the market,” says Boots. “At DMCC our focus will be on structuring our instruments to ensure they contribute to further promote intra-regional as well as international trade flows. We aim to create a partnership for a sustainable commodities sector.”
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SUCCESS Success Series Welcome to our series of interviews with the leading entrepreneurs and Captains of Industry that embody success in the UAE today.
Interview Ravi Bhusari Co-Founder of Duplays
hey say that the couple that ‘plays together stays together’, but what do we make of business people that play? Aside from the obvious amounts of fun to be had on the field, can ‘work’ and ‘play’ go hand in hand? Young entrepreneur, Ravi Bhusari, Director and Co-Founder of organised social sports leagues, tournaments, events and classes company Duplays.com, has successfully created a marriage between ‘sport and business’. Only an innovator could connect those dots, so let’s pass the baton to Ravi to explain how he created a business by doing what he loves…
Early mistakes Prior to the investment into the Duplays, what early mistakes did you make that taught you good business lessons to take forward? Our early mistake was to focus more on the external execution of the business, the logistics of setting up the sports activities etc., than the internal running of the business and its infrastructure. We were so keen on delivering a good experience to our clients that our housekeeping was something that we almost regarded as a second priority. Big mistake! Early mistake! Never to be repeated!
The numbers Founded in 2007, Duplays organises popular sports activities, from leagues to tournaments, events and classes, and connects people who share a passion for sports. Duplays’ membership has grown from 380 registrations in 2008 to 40,000, with new members joining every week, playing over 18 sports.
Use of social media What was your strategy for the use of social mediahow did you start to incorporate it? Being in the business of playing sports is like no other business. There is no bad spin off to playing sports, it doesn’t harm other people or the environment and there is always something to celebrate. It is this celebration aspect that has attracted a great social network following. Our clients want to talk about the great games they played, the goals, the victories etc., and this in turn encourages interest from their friends online.
At the start What were you doing before you set up Duplays? I had an engineering background, so I was always logically minded and naturally thought about problem solving and how to make things better. When I was quite new in Dubai, I gradually got together with other guys who were also looking to play team sports. It wasn’t a big leap in thought-process when I realised that the social scene in Dubai revolved around eating and drinking; especially drinking! The concept of meeting up socially to play sports developed into a natural business idea to arrange this as an organised social activity that didn’t involve drinking, but still involved having a lot of fun, laughter and interaction with peers. What were your first steps to launch the business? I worked on a very detailed business plan after working my day job, even visualising the specific sponsors who I was hoping would eventually support the venture. We started small and then got an investor involved, who gave the business a huge boost, both financially and in mentoring terms.
“Expect to make mistakes and experience disappointment, but always make sure you bounce back, without taking it hard or personally”
What are your expansion plans for the future? We’re getting the business established in Delhi and Riyadh, which is very exciting. A business based on sports brings people together, it doesn’t matter what religious background, nationality or gender you are, sport brings everyone together on the same team. This means we can export the business model internationally. What lessons can other businesses learn from your impressive rate of growth? You must have a passion for what you do and not just be motivated by money. Expect to make mistakes and experience disappointment, but always make sure you bounce back, without taking it hard or personally. Manage your cash! You have to generate cashflow for the business and always ensure there is a demand for your services. Lastly, surround yourself with great people that share your long-term vision.
Interview Fadi Malas CEO of Just Falafel
Fadi, how did the idea for Just Falafel first come about? The population here is completely international. Everybody is busy. Everybody, at some stage in the day wants to grab something quick and nutritious.
falafel is… well, just a falafel. But behind the scenes at healthy fast food franchise Just Falafel, lies a powerful master class in getting it ‘just right’ in terms of phenomenal business growth and global domination strategies. Editor Kay Marham invites Just Falafel Helmsman and Chief Executive Officer, Fadi Malas to share the secrets of their success in our exclusive interview. The business The first branch of Just Falafel was opened in Abu Dhabi in 2007. Since then, with annual turnover leaping from $707,800, to over $1.9 million between 2010 and 2011 – with an equally impressive financial ascent expected for 2012, the company has experienced extraordinary growth across seven countries, becoming one of the world’s fastest growing food chains, and currently the largest falafel chain in the world. Rapid expansion When I interviewed Fadi last month, he told me that they had 580,000 fans on Facebook. Three weeks later, the figure stands at over 737,000. Harnessing the power of social media since the beginning, Just Falafel has now made history by generating more than 3,500 requests for franchising opportunities from over 70 countries on its Facebook page, via a targeted social media campaign.
“We had a very strong business plan from the start, absolute determination to make it succeed and a level of focus on the business that has never waivered”
It begs the question, well, several really…
We had a very solid business plan and a very definite idea of what we wanted to achieve. We had, and still have to this day a massive focus on what we do. Did you experience any early mistakes or failures? If we are not making mistakes, then we are not doing something right. That holds true for any business. How else do you learn best practice? Young entrepreneurs should therefore not be afraid of their mistakes. I’m glad that we made our mistakes early, it meant that we could refine our operations and then apply the known strategies to the business to grow it. But mistakes are only good if you learn from them.
With an average of 25,000 fans per outlet, Just Falafel is now the subject of the first GCC company Facebook case study. With a master franchise recently sold in London, plans to open 200 more in the UK over the next 5 years, and firmly establish a strong presence in India; next on the list are Canada, Australia and a direct assault on the spiritual home of fast food itself, the US of A.
Falafels have a solid tradition behind them and in the same way as ideas just come to entrepreneurs, the initial idea was to apply some innovation to a very traditional concept; something that would fit with and serve the international nature of people living here. So, we came up with the Greek and Italian falafels for Europeans, Egyptian and Emirati falafels for the locals and so on.
Just Falafel Quesadilla Sandwich
Was there a specific ‘breakthrough moment’ when you knew that the business model would work? We had a very strong business plan from the start, absolute determination to make it succeed and a level of focus on the business that has never waivered. Some business owners come into work in the morning, do what they have to do and go home at 5pm. The business stayed in our heads at home, the weekends, and never left our minds. Of course, we have home lives and families, and it has never been the case that we don’t have time for family and friends, but our focus on the business was, and is still always there.
SUCCESS they want, we are able to respond to their needs.
So, there was not one specific breakthrough that made us believe the business would work, we just knew that it would, because we focussed our minds on its success from the start.
Recently we received more than 90 email requests for franchising in a single day. We received over 3,500 requests for franchising opportunities from over 70 countries from our Facebook page. So yes, social media has played a direct and huge part in our growth.
The big surprise was how quickly the business grew. We never in our wildest dreams expected that it would grow at the rate it has, and is currently doing. Social media, particularly Facebook, has been very good for the business – how does it play into business strategy on a day-to-day basis? Well, we never had the marketing budgets of the big name fast food companies; we never had billions to spend on advertising, so we had to come up with a way of reaching people in a cost effective and efficient way. Social media is not just a revelation for businesses, it is like a new revolution in the way business can be done. In the same way as we have had the Industrial Revolution, and things have never been done in the same way since; we now have the ‘Social Media Revolution’ and business marketing should now never be conducted without it.
“Starting a business is not like doing a job, it is a lifestyle choice”
Also crucial for new entrepreneurs is the ability to maintain momentum in business. Rather than finish at the end of the day, come to work again and try to remember what you have to do, momentum allows you to just keep on moving in the right direction without any interruption.
For us, without the big budgets at the start, Facebook was like the largest country in the world, with a population of millions, that we could freely access. It allows us to interface directly with our customers, we are extremely interactive with them, and it is important that customers can feedback to us. Social media facilitates all of this for us. So would you say that social media played a core part of your rapid expansion? Social media is like a business reality show that is on 24-7. It is a platform that enables us to create a sense of belonging, with constant communication. By interfacing with our customers and finding out what
What advice would you give to start-ups and smaller businesses looking to emulate your level of success? You need strong self-belief. Focus is very important, if you want to achieve business success in any sphere, you cannot diversify your focus. Something to be careful about is that entrepreneurs entertain great ideas all the time, so the biggest challenge they face is to remain focused on their core business of choice. Starting a business is not like doing a job, it is a lifestyle choice and again, this is why focus is so important.
It also helps to know how to take a punch without taking it personally. In business, you are always a work in progress, so analysis, the ‘why why why’ aspect of all the operational details will help you to really operate the business from the best position of understanding. Just Falafel American Sandwich
My last advice would be to believe in what you do, forget the naysayers and forget the ‘noise’ that people around might make when you talk about your business ideas. Take good quality advice and don’t be afraid to try different ways of doing things. You have to trust yourself, because ultimately, it is you that has to run the business, ‘just the way you like it’!
Success Story Interview
Khurshid Vakil Executive Director of Marina Home Interiors
arina Home Interiors has a solid reputation for a product range that blends traditional, modern and conceptual furnishings to create a truly special end result. I was intrigued to find that Marina’s CEO Khurshid Vakil, has a leadership style that is rooted in traditional solid business values, sturdy long-lasting practices, with accents of a modern style, not unlike his brand. Did one inspire the other? We many never know, but here, Vakil gives us some insights into ‘the concept behind the concept store’ and the success of the Marina brand. Employing a staff of over 500 in 5 countries and 2 Continents, Marina Home Interiors is a luxury household brand that was born in the UAE in 1998 and is now the de facto brand of high-end home interiors throughout the Region. Do you feel that entrepreneurs are ‘born’ or ‘made’? I do not believe that entrepreneurs are born. Some of the best names in business started in sales. Entrepreneurism depends on how people can adapt and how people dream. Being an entrepreneur is a combination of a certain resilience & drive, competently executing a strong business concept, achieving distinctiveness from competitors, a bit of luck, and adaptability, which is a big word given that socioeconomic conditions can be a rollercoaster. What prompted the brand concept of Marina? The desire to express in my own way what is possible, especially in the home interiors industry. I have always had a great passion for interiors and at the time of incepting the business, there was nothing like it in the market, only mass-produced furniture. So I made a deliberate decision to plug the gap in the market, and plug it with a ‘wow factor’ offering. I did not want to copy anybody, my purpose was to innovate the ‘look and feel’ and ambience of home interiors, and add ‘soul’ to the soul-less market that was
leaving customers uninspired at the time.
Being an entrepreneur is a combination of a certain resilience & drive, competently executing a strong business concept, achieving distinctiveness from competitors, a bit of luck, and adaptability
How did you start-up? What were your first practical steps? Start-up was a well thought out business plan. We took the fullest risk analysis possible and stayed ahead of every competitor to lead Marina where it is today. Tell me about your ideation process…how do you work? I always apply strategy to any aspect of business, thinking out of the box and understanding the aspirations of people who want their homes to be beautiful and stylish. What kind of business failure have you experienced? What lessons did you learn? My background is in family business, so we have seen off many challenges and experienced all aspects of running a business and what can happen. Every day is a learning curve. The lesson to learn is that the tastes and expectations of customers vary, so we need to anticipate and be ahead of that, in all aspects. Run a full risk analysis and determine the potential of the business as accurately as possible; establish what will and won’t work with your target market. Know your catchment, the size of your market and the potential size that your market can reach for expansion purposes. You need to be different, not just another competitor in the race – distinguish your business from any other. What is your advice to someone who has entrepreneurial spirit, but has experienced failure? Never give up if you believe in your business concept. There is always room to adapt and progress. Believe in yourself and what you can achieve, everything comes back to that because if you don’t believe in your own success, how can you expect anyone else to contribute to that success?
How has the Marina Home Interiors brand succeeded where so many others have failed to make such a massive impact on the market? Again, a strong business plan has helped us distinguish the brand from any other. Even though the business plan has always been the solid foundation, we have allowed the breathing room for our stores to evolve over time, without diluting the brand DNA. We have allowed for constant evolution in brand design, quality, variety, the customer’s experience in the stores, our standards of customer service, after sales service and staff training. Our secret to success is therefore not only working with a good business plan, but also knowing when to operate independently of it too. That comes with business experience. What advice would you give to an SME looking to emulate your level of success? Never stop dreaming, and get your facts right. Understand your market size and potential, and plan in detail accordingly. How do you ensure that you retain talent? Look after your staff. In an organisation such as
Our secret to success is therefore not only working with a good business plan, but also knowing when to operate independently of it too. That comes with business experience
ours, if you address every associate by their names, half the job is done. A personal touch is the key to motivate people and win their confidence. An enterprise leader delegates but monitors, he gives the sense of ownership of the respective roles to each staff member. We have active programmes within the company that keep employees motivated, challenged and able to see that there is a great career path for the best talent. Sum up the secrets of your business success… One has to reinvent the wheel all the time. We operate in a region with a large transient population, cultural mix and lifestyle. As a business, we have to operate keeping the likes and dislikes of the customer in mind, as opposed to being led by what we think they want, or resting on our laurels. What would you still like to achieve? I don’t believe we have achieved success, in a ‘past tense’ way. We have the potential to go global, and once that is achieved, it still isn’t quite the definition of success for me. I would like the Marina Home Interiors brand to be the most desired brand in the world. Not necessarily the biggest, but the ‘most desired’ – that would mean achievement and success to me.
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How to Make
More Money I
data generated between departments; for example, between the sales and accounts departments? These are examples of having the appropriate equipment in place to do business successfully.
f your SME business is operational and established, then it is a natural next step to seek to progress to the next level of growth, which means that you must look for ways to streamline, whilst simultaneously generating more revenue.
4. Constantly and continuously train Regardless of the staff function within the company, there is always scope to develop their knowledge and efficiency through continuous training. An example of this is to look at the quality of emails that every staff member sends out to check that there is a consistency of company image and professionalism. Another area to develop is standards of customer care.
Developing your business to the next level, surprisingly, is not just merely a matter of selling more of your products or services. In this article we look at a number ways in which you can place your company in the optimum springboard position to bring your ‘E’ from ‘S’ to ‘M’! Focus on your core business Using the example of McDonalds as a quick case study, when they started to become successful, they did not diversify into frying chicken or making pizzas, instead they focused on improving their main product offering, innovating their menu, sharpening their marketing approach and applying 5 primary principles that that overwhelmingly contributed to their tremendous success. All 5 principles can also be implemented in your business to facilitate its growth. 1. Consistently deliver In the case of SMEs, this means that you should strive to deliver an unfalteringly high quality service to customers, and educate them to believe that you’re always reliable and respecting of their best interests. 2. Focus on being operationally efficient For your business, this means having the right procedures in place for everything from sales order processing, dealing with customer complaints, answering outside calls and payment collection. Part of operational efficiency is outsourcing your non-core work, to allow you to freely focus all of your energies on running the business. 3. Utilise the right equipment Are your salespeople equipped with the means to take and process orders while on the road? Do you have the appropriate internal phone systems to transfer client calls between departments? Do your staff have the IT systems in place to easily access the
5. Be true to you Just as McDonalds know they don’t sell the best tasting hamburgers in the world, they do know where their strengths lie and they embrace and nurture them. You should focus your business on its core offering and then strive to achieve the highest standard in your field, in order to provide the platform for growth.
“Rule No. 1: never lose money; rule No. 2: don’t forget rule No. 1”
The Tao of Warren Buffett
Increase your sales performance Many salespeople come to work and quietly proceed with their plans for the day. However, a little proactivity goes a long way in sales – e.g. making regular requests for client referrals/testimonials to attract other clients. Additional methods of enhancing sales revenues can include: Sales training When strategising to improving your company’s financial performance, a dedicated sales development programme will give you a raw advantage over competitors who do not engage outside sales trainers and keep up to date with latest techniques or reinforcement of good practices. Sales transparency This will result in better quality client relationships and subsequently more sales. Sales brochures Improve your corporate sales performance with some high quality brochures.
Reduce office overheads It can easily become more habit than strategy to spend regularly on the smaller value office items, such as stationery, but be reminded that the costs can mount to surprisingly high levels. Be aware of the small details, such as the following: Buying recycled printer cartridges It can be worth up to 80% in cost-saving to check the Internet for a local recycled printer cartridge supplier. Downloading free forms and templates Instead of spending time creating office forms and templates in-house, you can find thousands of free forms online that you can download, customise and print. Naturally, this saves both time and money.
Motivation for sales staff A motivating meeting/message in the morning is a good way to improve sales! Company mission statement Powerful mission statements can motivate staff and improve performance. Continual prospecting Sales staff must prospect all the time, scheduling weekly prospecting time in their agenda.
“Price is what you pay; value is what you get. Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down”
Practice up-selling Current clients already know and trust your company and are more likely to increase their business than ‘cold’ clients. Maximise social media opportunities Social media gives you direct access to existing and potential clients, for free, in some respects replacing the traditional role of advertising. By using this platform creatively, you are able to save significant marketing budgets and still position your company as an expert in your industry sector, market directly to your customer base, attract new business, promote your offering cost-efficiently to a mass audience and increase your company profile exponentially. At the very least, your business should have a presence on: Facebook This offers direct interaction with your customers and allows them to feedback directly to you, which replaces the traditional role, and costs, of a market research agency. LinkedIn With the facility to choose targeted groups of likely customers, you are provided with an invaluable platform to position your company as an authoritative, helpful or trusted expert in your field. Twitter Asking questions to your followers will help you gain insight on what is important to your customers and what is influencing their buying decisions.
Using free software Visit www.openoffice.org to download a suite of the most common office software. You can also try hundreds of software products for free through trial download, freeware and limited versions of the full product. This again enables you to reduce outgoings and ensure that you choose the most suitable products for your needs. Buying used equipment Save up to 60% and more by buying used computer equipment, copiers and office furniture from online resources such as www.dubizzle.com. There is a myriad of ways in which your business can make more money, the cumulative effective of which will make a positive impact to your finances. Business Insight will be examining these points in more detail in future editions, but the following section gives a précis of many proven methods of saving, or making money. Control Costs In order to save, and therefore generate more cash for your business, keep a close eye on all expenses stationery, office kitchen supplies, client lunches, use of AC, phone bills and electricity etc. These can all add up to a significant monthly drain on your resources. Monitor and take action against time-wasting habits Take a mental inventory how much office time is lost through employees gossiping, newspapers being read, staff playing on the Internet or taking care of personal business etc. It is not necessary to take draconian measures, but time-wasting does need to be addressed if it is ensconced in your company culture, as this directly affects productivity. Shop around for the best deals When dealing with new suppliers, it is a prudent measure to request quotes from 3 suppliers and
MONEY ask your preferred choice to match the best rate. A classic example of ‘shopping around’ is your Employers’ Liability, Public Liability and medical insurance services, which can vary wildly in price. Check with your trade association whether you can qualify for a special trade rate and make a habit of comparing prices each year when the insurance renewals fall due. Reclaim tax Not an obvious point to include here as tax is not paid in the UAE. However, according to tax experts, U Turn Tax Refund based in DIFC, the Value Added Tax (VAT) paid on a wide variety of foreign business expenses is reclaimable from all of the European Union countries, Switzerland, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Australia. This means that your company may be entitled to reclaim this VAT. For example, if an employee takes a business trip to the UK, 20% VAT is charged on hotel, food, local transport and additional spending. Therefore if a sum of £5,000 is spent on one business trip, a potential maximum £1,000 can be reclaimed, a fifth of the outlay! Use energy, utilities and technologies efficiently Switch off computers and monitors at night, and don’t allow your staff to use your office phones to make personal (mobile) calls. Use printers/copiers only when necessary. Switch to laptop computers Laptops can generally be used instead of standard desktop computers and consume approximately 90% less energy. Review your phone usage Whether you reduce the number of phone lines, change your monthly plan or replace your current service with an
Internet based service such as VoIP (see our ‘Office Telecommunications’ article on page 32), there are a variety of ways to lower your phone bill without it affecting your client base. Investigate online payment methods Save the monthly fees that your bank’s online merchant account charges by switching to an online service such as PayPal. These online plans do have specific ‘per transaction’ fees, so analyse your account activity before making any changes.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is
Only light, heat and cool what you need By turning out the lights, the AC and heating in unused areas of the office, or installing motion sensor lights, you will see marked decreases in your utility bills. Use the Internet whenever possible From sales calls to business conferences, there are a variety of Internet-based technologies, such as Microsoft Office Live Meeting, that can provide you with low cost ways to communicate with clients.
dressed in overalls and looks like work”
Tips to streamline and make more money Be a creative problem solver. Think outside the box to establish what your business needs to grow. Persevere. Don’t let the roadblocks keep you from success. Find mentors. Seek out mentors who have been successful, and model their methodologies. (See the ‘Success Section’ on page 13) Stay lean with your budget. Be careful with how you spend, be aware of every aspect of cashflow (see ‘Reading Financial Statements’ article on page 50) and continually find ways to decrease spending.
“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same”
Colin R. Davis
Believe in yourself. If it is in your heart to succeed, you will always find the motivation to continue to grow your business prosperously.
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Does it Live up to the Promise?
By James Portelli, Group Commercial Director (Africa and Middle East) at Lifecare Insurance Brokers.
Unfortunately, within this Region, price perhaps plays a more important role than it should. But it is often the case that the cheaper the insurance at the time of purchase, the more expensive it turns out to be at the time of a claim.
ave you ever noticed that, irrespective of the reason, the allure of online purchases do not always live up to their ‘hassle-free’ promises? But what does this have to do with insurance? Or, more specifically, what does it have to do with health insurance for small and medium-sized enterprises?
This is either because of exclusions, limits, sub-limits or poor overall claims service by the insurance company, or by their appointed third party administrator. Because of this it is tempting to belive the product may not live up to the promise, but perhaps unfairly so.
Health insurance: a personal matter Health insurance, similar to life assurance, can be a very personal topic. We are not covering assets which are generally subject to amortisation. We are covering ourselves, loved ones or employees with whom we have a direct and important relationship. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, this is even more so when it comes to health insurance; we expect it to deliver as and when a claim arises. The only snag is that at the time of purchase, you only purchase a promise. It is true that policy wordings in the UAE have to highlight exclusions and limitations in red, but how many people actually read through the full policies before purchasing them? Maybe an insurance company would be quick to add, ‘Since you are parting with money, you should!’ But should you, since the contract is based on the principle of utmost good faith, which is equally binding for both the insurer and the insured? If insurance companies are correct in their assertion, how many of them actually provide a full copy of the insurance wording before a policy is purchased? The value of an insurance broker By implication, businesses concentrate their energy and resources in doing what they do best for whatever line of business they are in. Most business owners, if not all, would not possess specific internal insurance expertise. This is where the value of both a good insurance broker to advise you, the client, as well as the value of an insurance provider with a sound track record of claims settlement, come into play.
Loss ratios in private medical insurance are generally very predictable and they make up the bulk of the cost. Therefore, price is generally a very good indicator of what level of service one is to expect, in that a lower price simply means that less may be paid by an insurance company in the event of a claim. The following are some issues to think about when evaluating health insurance providers or their products:
“To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear”
Is the cover local, regional or international? Most regional plans offer some international cover in the event of emergency. Some providers of regional plans allow elective treatment overseas, provided that they do not pay more than what they would have paid locally or regionally. Furthermore, some of the companies allowing elective overseas treatment claims, but subjecting reimbursement to regional limits, may also impose higher excess, or deduct excesses from limits, and not from the actual cost of treatment. The latter goes against one of the fundamental principles of insurance, i.e. indemnity, but in the absence of true competition and strong consumer knowledge in the market, such practices prevail. Commutable insurance Many people are insured under company schemes. This is fine until such time that a person decides to
move on. It is worth considering, particularly as a person gets on in age, whether their medical insurance policy is something that they can take with them when they move on either to another job, or to another country or when they simply retire. The significance of this stems mainly from the fact that most company schemes are more lenient on preexisting conditions, but once a person switches to an individually underwritten policy (generally at an older age) with a new provider, complications may arise and exclusions start to surface. Limits and sub-limits Many insurers manage to contain premium increases by imposing limits or sub-limits on certain claims, (such as out-patient limits or certain in-patient costs, or on specific procedures/treatment) or on the network of medical providers that can be used. It is important that one takes such limitations into consideration when evaluating premiums on offer. Why would a premium insurance policy be as much as 30% or 40% more expensive than the competition? Premiums in health insurance are primarily a factor of claims. Therefore, the more that is covered, (and often at higher limits or full reimbursement) the more
“Health and healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity”
expensive the health insurance product would be. If we had to relate this to, for example, a property policy, not all property insurance policies cover earthquake or terrorism. These are probably not the sort of exposures that are on everybody’s mind because they thankfully are not daily occurrences, but if and when they do happen, their financial consequences are devastating. In medical insurance, the same applies. Many providers manage to contain their premiums by excluding or severely limiting certain financially-crippling losses. For example, what are the implications of a financial cap on dialysis, which is required, say, at least twice weekly by people suffering from renal failure? What are the implications on restriction on say cancer treatment? This is where the true value of insurance emerges; a value that far outweighs the price in the event of life threatening diseases. Conclusion Insurers are making it increasingly easy for people to purchase insurance, but whether that transaction translates into a hassle-free ticket to private medical insurance depends on a number of factors. The advice of an independent health insurance specialist would therefore undoubtedly help you to sift through the small print, the true policy offerings, and to gain an understanding of what cover will genuinely suit you and your best interests. TIP A professional insurance broker should not put you under any buying pressure for making enquiries. Healthcare to European standards Across the UAE, medical services are broadly up to European standards. The comprehensive, Government-funded health service and a fast developing private health sector, have pushed healthcare indicators to respectable levels. For example, life expectancy, a main indicator, is 78.3 years, compared to the UK figure of 79.5 years. Malaria, measles and poliomyelitis, once endemic in the UAE, have now been eradicated. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease are the new targets for improvement. Proactive health promotion campaigns to improve lifestyles are underway. Accessing healthcare Any individual can buy their own health insurance and apply for a health card from the Health Ministry, which gives access to the state system in an emergency, but you’ll need your health card with you! Those with private cover may not to be welcomed in some State hospitals for elective treatment. There is no automatic provision for this. In short, if you have private insurance, you’re expected to use a private hospital. It’s a good idea to know the location and contact details of your nearest private hospital.
How to Write
A Good Reference B
eing asked to provide a reference for an ex-employee is a big responsibility. Very often, the quality of your reference can make the difference between someone getting a job or being rejected for the position, so try to execute your referee duties as fairly as possible. The reference letter should be around 1 page in length and generally consist of 3 parts; the opening, the main body and the closing paragraphs. Begin the process by getting information together about the candidate. The opening paragraph Open your reference by clearly explaining your relationship with your ex-employee. Then provide information regarding why the letter was written. Include other basic facts such as length of your working relationship and the candidate’s primary responsibilities. For example; “Nathalie Perrin worked as an Account Manager under my supervision for five years. I am delighted to recommend her for the position of Team Leader.” The main body paragraph Write the second paragraph of your reference by offering relevant details about the former staff member. Explain the personality traits of the candidate with descriptive adjectives such as ‘dedicated,’ ‘innovative,’ ‘motivated’ etc. Highlight other attributes that make the candidate special, for example ‘works well under pressure’ and ‘proven ability to manage a team’. You could also describe special skills or knowledge to help the candidate stand out from
other applicants. Accomplishments such as taking further education classes, or certifications like CPR or first aid, fit well in this slot. Do not exaggerate an employee’s performance. Over-use of superlatives and adjectives can often have the opposite effect that you intended! The closing paragraph Close a good reference by summarising the previous information. At this point in the letter, specifically state that you definitively recommend the candidate for the job. A sentence that describes your confidence in the ability of the candidate to succeed is very impactive in the closing paragraph. Signing off If you are addressing the letter ‘Dear Sir/ Madam…’ (ie. not using a specific name) sign off using the closing phrase ‘Yours faithfully.’ If you have named the receiver (e.g. ‘Dear Mr Ahmed…’) use ‘Yours sincerely”. Remember… Confidentiality and equal opportunity need to be kept in mind at all times when you write a reference for someone seeking a job. Do not include information that directly states or indirectly refers to ethnic background, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation or marital status. Do not be tempted to write a bad reference, as legally, this could have repercussions on you. If you have nothing good to say, just confirm the job title of the person and the dates of employment.
Below is an example of a good generalpurpose reference as a guideline: Date To Whom it May Concern: I recommend (insert the name, e.g. Nathalie) as a candidate for employment. Nathalie was employed by (add your company name) as an (add the job title, e.g. Admin Assistant) from (add the dates). Nathalie was responsible for office support including word processing, scheduling appointments and creating brochures, newsletters, and other office literature. Nathalie has excellent communication skills and is well organised, reliable and computer literate. Nathalie can work independently and is able to follow through to ensure that the job gets done. She is flexible and willing to work on any project that is assigned to her. Nathalie would be a great asset for your company and has my highest recommendation. If you have any further questions with regard to her background or qualifications, please do not hesitate to call me. Yours faithfully, Add your name and job title.
The 7 Killer Skills of
The Perfect Employee A
s a Managing Director or business owner who is hungry for success, it is important that you make a commitment to the development of your staff, in order to reach your corporate goals. A well-trained workforce can improve business productivity and efficiency, drive innovation and development, and vastly alter a customer’s perception of the business. A badly or untrained workforce can see productivity decrease; can lead to stagnation of product and service innovation, and force customer service interactions to become a thing of nightmares. Every employee should therefore ideally have a healthy mix of the seven skills described below.
“For me, emotional intelligence is an important skill in all employees. Not many people understand this, but if you can’t work with empathy and compassion, then you are not doing the job to the best of your ability”
Carol Whittle, HR Manager, Wafi
1. Killer problem solving skills Often a favourite topic in interviews, the ability to solve complex problems is the Holy Grail for HR teams searching for that perfect candidate. Regardless of industry or job function, an employee who can demonstrate that they can effectively solve problems in an everyday work setting will have a head start on the competition.
Nuria Gonzalez Martin, Human Resources Director at Real HR, comments: “Confident basic computing may seem like a simple skill, but it is surprising how many employees do not have even the standard skill set to deal with the computer software that is so pervasive throughout the professional working environment. Any employee who cannot fully operate Microsoft Office will not only impact upon their own development, but will almost certainly affect business productivity.” 3. Clear, concise and professional written communication Many seasoned professionals lament what they see as a decline in standards when it comes to written communication. The advent of ‘text speak’ has managed to seep into mainstream communication and has even found its way into the workplace. There’s nothing more unprofessional than sending out a business email littered with colloquial spelling and grammar. The impression it forms in the mind of the recipient is one of stark unprofessionalism and irreverence.
Likewise, if your team of employees inherit and learn this skill, you can feel more confident in identifying and overcoming potentially serious business issues. Your people should be able to work on initiative and under minimal guidance; be people who are proactive rather than reactive.
Business communication should always be kept clear, concise and free from jargon. Any employee that doesn’t have this skill is at an extreme disadvantage. Your employees don’t have to be Shakespeare, but an ability to easily communicate through written language is certainly a must-have.
Ranging from the smallest customer service issue to the largest boardroom disagreement, killer problem solving skills will always serve you well.
4. Fearless and professional presenter A prerequisite for a modern presentation is the use of Microsoft PowerPoint. There’s no getting around it, this tool is extremely useful and it can usually enhance any presentation it carries.
2. Mastery of basic IT and new media skills In the age of new media and rapid technological advancement, keeping up to date with existing and emerging technology is an essential for your employees. In the case of social media and their consistent lines of communication with customers or potential customers, your employees need to have a working knowledge of how these platforms work and the etiquette that accompanies them.
Therefore, knowing the finer details of how to use and manipulate PowerPoint seems like an obvious skill for any successful employee. Aside from the technological aid, the art of presenting combines a number of overlapping factors that can determine how a presentation is received,
PEOPLE from projecting the voice in a confident manner, to formulating a persuasive argument that will enthrall the audience. Today business is all about presenting; to clients, to colleagues, or to superiors. A modern day professional cannot get by without learning, practising, and improving their presentation skills. 5. Ability to work in a team Every other job advertisement asks for the same thing; they call for candidates who can work under their own initiative, but also thrive in a team environment. Why is the ability to work productively within a team considered such a sought after skill? Business is made up of interconnecting relationships that have to be cultivated and nurtured. An experienced employee will traverse the tricky nature of business relationships with consummate skill by listening to others, thinking critically about issues and communicating their analysis effectively with the relevant stakeholders. Projects stifled by substandard teamwork are a manager’s worst nightmare. In a land of individuals the team player is King. 6. Business acumen Business acumen is keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a business situation in a manner that is likely to lead to a good outcome. It means a good working knowledge of the minutiae details of business operations, whilst being able to make the connection with larger business issues. It may seem a slightly abstract skill to possess but if looked at in detail, it contains many elements that make up day-to-day business life. For instance, equally important is a solid grasp of financial processes as well as an understanding of market conditions and ways to reach the desired customers. Many employees find themselves stuck in their specific job functions and fail to see the wider issues that affect them and the rest of the business. Those who can make this connection and inspire colleagues to do the same will be considered to be ‘business savvy’. This leads us on to our seventh deadly skill.
A Word About Emotional Intelligence… Dr Daniel Goleman’s best selling books ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and ‘Working with Emotional Intelligence’ marked the beginning of emotional intelligence as something that was recognised by mainstream business theorists. Goleman’s definition of emotional intelligence proposes key competencies that can be applied to employees: Self-Awareness • Emotional self-awareness: Reading one’s own emotions and recognising their impact • Accurate self-assessment: Knowing one’s strengths and limits • Self-confidence: A sound sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities Self-Management • Emotional self-control: Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control • Transparency: Displaying honesty and integrity; trustworthiness • Adaptability: Flexibility in adapting to changing situations or overcoming obstacles • Achievement: The drive to improve performance to meet inner standards of excellence • Initiative: Readiness to act and seize opportunities • Optimism: Seeing the upside in events Social Awareness • Empathy: Sensing others’ emotions, understanding their perspective, and taking active interest in their concerns • Organisational awareness: Reading the currents, decision networks, and politics at the organisational level • Service: Recognising and meeting follower, client, or customer needs Relationship Management • Inspirational leadership: Guiding and motivating with a compelling vision • Influence: Wielding a range of tactics for persuasion • Developing others: Bolstering others’ abilities through feedback and guidance • Change catalyst: Initiating, managing and leading in a new direction • Conflict management: Resolving disagreements • Building bonds: Cultivating and maintaining a web of relationships • Teamwork and collaboration: Cooperation and team building There is general agreement that the factors identified above are indeed emerging as the key elements of workplace skill and success .
7. The leadership skills of a Roman General It could be argued that the preceding six skills on this list are necessary components of a good leader. Leadership skills do not only apply to the most senior person in a company. Ideally a business should be littered with those willing to lead. In times of technological, economical and sociological change, businesses need to be quick to adapt and move with the times. Strong, effective leadership in all areas of the business is vital in navigating this rapidly accelerating pace of change. Furthermore, the businesses in question must become adept at spotting and nurturing those with leadership skills. They must equip them with the tools and training to reach their leadership potential for the ultimate aim of greater productivity, innovation and success.
How to Give
An Employee Appraisal I
also have the time to speak freely to you about their role and their experiences.
t’s nearly the end of the year and time for the annual employee appraisal. Appraisals can benefit both employers and employees by improving their job performance, making it easier to identify what they are doing well, what they need to improve upon, and the most suitable action that needs to be taken for the future. Here are our Business Insights into maximising the appraisal process. What is an appraisal? An appraisal is an assessment of an employee’s performance, potential and developmental needs. The appraisal is an opportunity to take an overall view of the employee’s quality of work, to look back on what has been achieved during the period and agree upon the objectives going forward. Why conduct an appraisal? The main objectives of an appraisal are to give managers and employees the opportunity to discuss how they are progressing in their work and to see what sort of improvements can be made, or help given, to build on their strengths and enable them to perform more effectively. When giving your employees a performance appraisal, which you should do at least once a year, it may include feedback that is not always positive. A performance appraisal needs to be honest, even when employees might not always want to hear what you have to say. Whether you’re offering praise or constructive criticism, keep these important points in mind: 1) Prepare your appraisal in writing Writing out your thoughts and evaluations on paper may be helpful in making sure all points of discussion are covered and also allows you to keep a record. 2) Give feedback in person and allow plenty of time Schedule a meeting that is at least an hour long so that you can deliver and discuss the employee’s performance, while also allowing the opportunity for them to discuss your points. Your employee will
3) Relate the appraisal to your business goals Point out how achievements and areas that need improvement are tied to the overall performance of your business. This way, your employee can appreciate the role they play in the context of the ‘bigger picture’. 4) Engage in a two-way dialogue Although you’ve drawn up the appraisal points for discussion, you need to make sure that the meeting is a conversation, not a lecture. Encourage your employees to comment and speak freely to you.
“Human Resource experts say that employees should be reviewed earlier and more often than just the end of the year. Employee reviews are a process that should happen all year long”
Paul Falcone, author of ‘2,600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews’
5) Offer specific examples and discuss actions Your employees need to know when they didn’t meet expectations before they can change their ways. So be polite and tactful, but be direct when you’re talking about areas that need improvement. 6) Emphasise opportunities for improvement Although you may need to cite specific examples of failures, focus on what the person can do to prevent such problems in the future. 7) Don’t say ‘you never…’ or ‘you always…’ If you find yourself reprimanding an employee because he or she is never on time or always rude, censor yourself. These words are rarely accurate or helpful in reaching the objectives of the appraisal. 8) Set goals for the coming year Outline objectives in line with the employee’s career aspirations or spell out the steps necessary to improve in certain areas. TIP Encourage your employees to view their appraisal as an ‘opportunity’, not ‘a threat’ to their professional wellbeing. Never refer to the appraisal in negative terms and in the build-up to appraisal time, encourage the employee to think about their contribution to the meeting.
First Aid for
This is the first in our monthly series of insights into common computer problems – we’re looking at hardware in this issue. Do familiarise yourself with the first steps you should take, which can usually help when unexpected hardware problems arise.
Hardware trouble If your computer doesn’t turn on, or just isn’t functioning properly, just follow these steps: • Confirm that your computer is securely plugged in and receiving power. Check for blown fuses on plugs. • Check to see whether equipment is properly connected to your PC by making sure all cables are securely plugged into the correct ports. • Look for error messages displayed on your desktop when logged in. Solutions for many problems can be found in your computer manual or by entering the problem online in Google or Bing and checking to see whether the problem is easily fixable yourself; which it is, a surprisingly large amount of the time. • If your computer works for some time but then suddenly freezes or shows a blue screen, this is most likely a hardware problem and parts may need to be replaced.
THE PROBLEM: The cursor is unresponsive and I can’t type If you have a USB keyboard, try a different USB port on the PC itself. If that doesn’t work, try borrowing a colleague’s keyboard and see if that works. If it doesn’t, try plugging your keyboard into their computer to see what happens; that way you should be able to work out whether the problem is with the keyboard or the computer itself.
Here are a few examples of how some of the above can apply, plus some extra tips, just to see if the cause of the problem is something you can fix yourself:
Also it may be worth checking that you have paid your Internet bill to Du or Etisalat and have not been disconnected.
Do you have a problem with your mouse? Do the same. Wireless keyboards and mice need batteries; try replacing the batteries with a fresh set. THE PROBLEM: I can’t get onto the Internet If you usually access the Internet via a cable, and your connection keeps on dropping out, switch the network router off, wait 1 minute and then turn it on and try again. Still no good? Check that you do not have more than one network router on the network, these will typically be additional wireless access points. If so disconnect all but your main router into which the Internet cable is plugged and try again.
THE PROBLEM: My monitor is not working Check that the power cable is connected properly. Also check the other connections - the plug/socket and both ends of the VGA cable (the one with the blue connector). Make sure that everything is securely plugged in. Often times a computer will appear not to be on when actually it is just having problems resuming from either the Standby/Sleep/Hibernate power saving modes in Windows. Note: You can power off your computer completely while in a power saving mode by holding the power button down for 3 to 5 seconds. After the power is completely off, turn on your PC and test to see if it will boot normally. Finally, if the above doesn’t work, you’ll probably need to seek professional help from a computer repair service or from your computer manufacturer’s technical support. Computers are generally built well and made to last, so you might well be very surprised at how often the small checks will get your computer back on track for you in the majority of cases.
Computer Security Checks with new viruses and worms. Some websites, perhaps optimistically, estimate that 70,000 new viruses are released each day. Whatever the true figure, these unwanted Internet viruses and worms will automatically attack a PC.
According to a recent survey by the FBI, 64% of businesses polled suffered a financial loss arising from computer security incidents over a 12-month period. The average cost per company was more than $24,000. The prudent response to such alarming consequences is awareness and prevention. Below you’ll find both the threats and defence responses that you can implement immediately. How can so much of your money be lost online? Many companies will consider themselves to be careful when using their credit cards online, and therefore see ‘stolen funds’ and ‘financial loss’ as two separate scenarios. John Andrews, Director of Marketing at Computerlinks, comments: “Our corporate customers aren’t always clear how financial loss can be incurred by their company. The IT staff may understand the IT implications but unfortunately, they often don’t know the intricate workings of the company they work for, they just know the IT network.” Andrews continues with the following insights: Financial loss can be : • Customers turned away because your website is down, due to a DOS attack • Your payment gateway being shut down by a similar attack • Customers looking elsewhere for products because of the problems an attack has caused • Viruses such as Shamoon attacking the actual hardware at BIOS level and rendering the computer totally useless; hence the need to either buy new equipment, or at the very least leave employees without a computer for hours or days. This results in financial loss because of halted productivity. Also, as a company, you can’t stop paying them during this time, and yet they are, in effect, unable to work during this period. Check the website first Few would disagree that the Internet is now the universal and de facto business research tool. However, websites are constantly being bombarded
Once these bugs are installed, hackers and spammers are able to remotely download more malicious programmes to your computer, or even use the worm to help install software that will enable them to track and steal security information, such as bank login details, credit card information and trade secrets! A recommended habitual protective measure is to check the website first by entering it into Google. If Google says it is unsafe, it is probably right.
Many business managers neglect to update their anti-virus, with the risky belief that it doesn’t make a difference; but this a misconception
Don’t open suspicious email messages If you received an email that says, “You won $20,000,000 on the Benelux Lottery”, or “congratulations, you are the 1 millionth visitor, click here to claim your prize…” just delete it straight away. These email messages almost certainly contain a virus that could easily end up copying and forwarding information from your computer (including highly sensitive information, such as passwords, bank statements, client data etc.) without your knowledge, which can be very embarrassing to you, your clients and colleagues. Be careful when downloading files Many computer users can become victims of viruses that can be ‘caught’ from downloaded files, such as movies or executable files, which will have ‘.exe’ as its file extension. Ensure that you access your videos and other downloadable files from well known sources. Apart from that, be very wary of ‘free download sites’, which are repeatedly targeted by bugs, and as such, there is a huge possibility that they will carry viruses. Install anti-virus software This is paramount if you want to keep those destructive viruses away from your files and keep both your PC and information safe. To extend a metaphor, computer anti-virus systems work like a vaccine and
TECH 1. Know your network, know your risks Having network visibility tools so that you can efficiently manage IP address allocation and get 100% visibility on your network traffic is key. These products don’t fall under the category of network security but without visibility, how can you possibly take the steps to secure your network?
can prevent worms and other types of viruses from affecting your computer system. Our advice is to buy a well known, well-respected anti-virus brand. Cheap and lesser known anti-virus software programmes may not have the full range of protections you need. Update your anti-virus protection Many business managers neglect to update their antivirus programmes, with the risky belief that it doesn’t make a difference; but this a misconception. Computer viruses evolve and emerge daily and if your application and protections are not updated, your computer will not have the capacity to fix the problem. Paying a small amount of money for regular updates will help you in the long run. Says Andrews of Computerlinks: “I think it’s important to be very aware that any security product installed can only be as good as the management of that product. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on site with a customer who says: “I have the best anti-virus software available” and yet when you examine the machines you can see that DAT file updates have not been applied for months. In a corporate network it should be the basis of a ‘Security Policy’ to roll out updates on a daily basis, if not hourly, and not relying on individual employees to take the action themselves. An out of date anti-virus or Firewall software is about as useful as having none at all.” Fighting computer viruses should be very straightforward, you just need to exercise vigilance and caution. Leaving the last word to John Andrews: “The most important thing from our perspective is to follow some simple steps before spending a dollar…”
“Our corporate customers aren’t always clear how financial loss can be incurred by their company”
John Andrews, Director of Marketing at Computerlinks
Contact: Tel: + 971 4 501 5814 www.computerlinks.ae
2. Plan and plug Based on the above you can plan out a security policy, including physical security of all of your corporate IT assets. Once this is done it will be easier to identify potential loopholes or areas where risk may be higher. You can then start looking at relevant technology to plug those gaps. 3. Stay ahead of the hacker UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE and review your policy constantly. Remember hackers have all the time in the world to work on shutting down your network, so your time-to-effort ratio needs to match that. Reviewing your policy and having regular network visibility updates are critical tools to make sure you’re staying ahead of the curve. 4. Get a second opinion Computerlinks offer a complete service including penetration testing in order to give you another view on what you’re seeing. (See left for contact details) At present there are more than 50 different types of security solutions available; anti-virus, firewall, web filtering, anti-spam etc., and in each of these areas there are multiple vendors offering solutions. It’s therefore no surprise that any IT Manager would have their hands full reviewing and assessing all of the market offerings. Considering that IT Security still makes up more than 60% of an organisation’s IT spend, it is also the most important to get right from a cost perspective.
A Guide to Office
hether you have a single branch company, multiple premises or are a start-up, every new office needs to orgnise the appropriate I.T. and telecoms infrastructure. Installing the right telecommunication systems provides you with the opportunity to reduce your operational costs and improve customer service. Many businesses implement these systems to also improve productivity and increase functionality. There are several telecoms systems available for use, depending on what you are looking to achieve. The number one rule for orgnising a new telecoms structure is to allow an absolute minimum of 3-4 weeks of preplanning time - this is not an undertaking you should leave until the last minute. You should ideally engage with an expert advisor who can sit down with you at the outset, and help you to explain your requirements, in order to give you the best guidance about the most appropriate system for you, that also fits in with your budget. Just explain the functionality you require, including any necessity for
“Smart businesses do not look at labour costs alone anymore. They do look at market access, transportation, telecommunications infrastructure and the education and skill level of the workforce”
future upgrading, and use the glossary overleaf to help get to grips with this topic. Asking the right questions Ali Afzal, Managing Director from Acentria Solutions, a Du Business Partner company, says that a good telecoms advisor will be asking you questions such as how many employees you expect to have in 2 years from now, and help prompt other information from you. Afzal advises that you tell your advisor how many phone lines you need, whether you need a single telephone number, internal extentions and the abililty to transfer calls internally. You should also make a point to discuss your Internet use with the advisor – whether you anticipate your Internet usage will be heavy, in order to determine the best speed v cost Internet solution for you. Other considerations are: • Whether you or your staff travel a lot (to determine the best mobile phones and plan) • If you have teleconferencing needs • Whether you need a credit card payment line • Whether you have data transfer needs (e.g. if you have retail stores, to feed information into your main head office) Beware the false economies! A crucially valuable point was made by Monal Shah, Director of Navaida Solutions, based in JLT. She comments: “So many companies are compromising themselves when letting employees use their own mobiles, and simply reimbursing the phone bills incurred. I regularly deal with the fallout in cases where staff leave their company, go and work for a competitor and all the business calls simply go to the new employer. I’d strongly advise that businesses consult with telecoms experts when developing their communications system, as it can often prove a false economy not to do so.” Understanding the jargon Telecoms can be a complex area, so…enter Mr S.A. Riza Wasti, CEO of Alliance Communication Solutions, to help us navigate through the jargon and better understand the options available.
TECH Unified communications: You can be connected to your business anywhere, anytime, through the rapidly-maturing converged voice, video and data services, termed ‘unified communications’. They enhance productivity and help quicker decisionmaking, while aligning your IT strategy with your IT architecture; thus increasing efficiency and cost effectiveness. Plus, if you are focussing on servicing your clients, you should equip your workforce with innovative communications and collaborative infrastructures to help adapt to the multiple roles in different business scenarios. VoIP: ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’ means that your voice is converted to digital data and transported over the Internet. A network: This is a collection of computers and other hardware components, (servers, PABX, faxes, printers and other office machines) interconnected by
communication channels, usually a wired or wireless network, using a protocol, that allows sharing of resources and information.
“Leadership in telecommunications is simply essential, since we are now in the age of e-commerce”
IT managed services: I.T. managed services is the practice of outsourcing day-to-day IT management responsibilities and is a method for improving operations. This can include outsourcing production, support and lifecycle build/ maintenance activities. Common I.T. managed services include, but are not limited to: • Databases • Backup • Data recovery • Storage • Security • Network management • Management information systems • Business-to-business integration • Communication services • Internet (provided by an Internet service provider) • Email (provided by an Email service provider) • Telephone (typically provided by a telephone company) • Videoconferencing (provided by a video conference managed service provider or by a video managed service provider) • Voice over Internet Protocol (Provided by a VoIP service provider) ID card and printers: Employee ID cards with a memory chip having employee’s data with regard to company and other necessary information. Access control: Installation and maintenance of access control for offices, buildings etc. UPS power solutions: In the event of power outage or power fluctuations, uninterrupted power supply (UPS) is required for any organisation, especially where access to information or data is crucial at any given time. Certain devices or appliances cannot withstand fluctuations in power, which might cause them to shut down. UPS comes in handy to take care of these problems. It has become a vital part of office infrastructure. The modern I.T. and telecommunications infrastructure options have been designed to meet the strategic development and dynamic changes in the business world. Although telecoms systems may feel like a large upfront expenditure, they can help future-proof your business, offer better staff and customer communications and offer you significant cost savings in the long run. With thanks to S.A. Riza Wasti, EO of Alliance Communication Solutions and Du Business Partners: Monal Shah, Director of Navaida Solutions and Ali Afzal, MD of Acentria Solutions.
To Cloud Computing T
he fastest uptake of cloud based solutions has been seen in the SME sector. The fact is that there are many good reasons why these businesses have embraced cloud computing, and a few other points to also weigh up – so sleeves up, let’s go through it! What is cloud computing? Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. The name ‘cloud computing’ was inspired by the cloud symbol that is often used to represent the Internet in flowcharts and diagrams. Descriptions can vary, but it is generally agreed that cloud computing involves a subscription-based, on demand, pay per use service that is delivered in real time, over the Internet and extends ITs existing capabilities. Both the industry and analysts believe that in the future, everything will move to the cloud, as cloud computing makes services available for which customers pay just based on their usage. According to business analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, the global ondemand software market is expected to grow from the current level of USD 40million to USD 800 million by 2015, with SMEs fuelling the growth. So why is the cloud perfect for SMEs? In the early days of cloud computing many mid-sized companies were scared away by the ambiguity of the solution descriptions offered by service providers and vendors alike. Where is my data? Where is this cloud located? What guarantees do I have that my data is secure? However, most SMEs are small, yet agile and have an edge over larger players due to their nimble, dynamic nature and ability to respond quickly to changes in the marketplace. At the same time the SME sector is also beset with challenges. The absence of deep pockets and
“With the cloud, individuals and small businesses can snap their fingers and instantly set up enterpriseclass services”
Roy Stephan, Director of IT Architecture and Engineering Intelligent Decisions
financial sustainability often make these organisations vulnerable to external trends. The global economic slowdown is a prime example. The SME sector has traditionally been slower than larger companies when it comes to embracing technology, which means that it has been largely unable to leverage the benefits of the latest technologies to improve their efficiency and productivity. These days there is much more confidence in the cloud-based security and service solutions as people and organisations alike have realised that for many years they have actually been using cloud in their everyday life. Salesforce.com and Gmail, to name but two. Cloud computing is therefore an exciting development for SMEs because it allows access to the same computing power of the huge corporates, but on a pay per usage basis. Your operating costs are greatly reduced, there are no up-front costs, the service provider arranges the set-up for you, all cloud computing services are scalable according to your growing needs and you can access the service immediately. In addition, you can make significant savings on your IT costs, as software is accessible to you, servers are not required and you can save on the outlay for IT staff.
TECH Addressing SME resources Cloud computing also helps businesses overcome their third most critical challenge after affordability and availability – resources. Most SMEs have a hard time finding and retaining IT talent. As this talent is costly SMEs usually tend to lack the correctly skilled manpower or domain specialists. A major benefit of embracing the cloud is therefore the cost argument:
If all parties are communicating via the cloud, orders can be processed more efficiently, collaboration with suppliers, trading partners and customers becomes easier, products can get to market more quickly and you can create full visibility across your supply chain, as well as manage customer relationships more efficiently. The 3 pillars of cloud computing: 1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – where the application is run off the cloud 2. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – where an application is built on a cloud-based operating system 3. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – where customers can remotely use the infrastructure of the service provider, (which means its huge data centres with hardware, software, networking etc.) to use key applications Example cloud application for an SME Let’s say that as an SME, you want to run a customer relationship management (CRM) application to improve the handling of your customers. All you need to do is to approach a third party service provider (or software vendor) offering this kind of application and hosting it on its infrastructure, and ‘subscribe’ to it. Any SME can do this without investing in expensive IT and for a much lower cost than handing this in-house. How to access the cloud Using the cloud, smaller companies are provided with a platform to host their business system requirements, in such a way as it is maintained in a secure environment and backed up regularly with no effort on your part. All you need at your end is a basic subscriber/rental agreement and fast Internet access. At the same time, if your requirements expand, you’ll find that all cloud services are scalable and flexible and will simply meet your needs by expanding themselves. Before cloud computing became available, a normal situation would require you to invest in additional technology upgrades, software licenses and (in some cases) even people.
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Fewer human resources to manage assets Fewer assets on the ground to procure Less initial capital outlay Lower maintenance fees on the assets
There is also the issue, often overlooked, of real time response. Because of cloud computing, specialised human resources and high competence teams are not needed as the entire burden of manpower falls on the cloud service provider. This means that, according to some analysts, SMEs can make between 15-20% savings on their IT outlays by embracing the cloud.
“The cloud services companies of all sizes…the cloud is for everyone. The cloud is a democracy” Marc Benioff CEO - Salesforce. com
Another big advantage with cloud computing is that SMEs can stop using these services whenever they wish, meaning that you can embrace the cloud for greater IT and computing power, save money, improve efficiency and harness the power of the Internet like never before. The cloud is here to stay and now the industry needs to define the standards and procedures for security, privacy, data moving and service recovery, in order to boost public confidence in the cloud. Without the necessary regulatory and industry standards, the acceptance of cloud-based services could still be somewhat… ‘cloudy’.
Availability, reliability and the dark side of the cloud By accessing the cloud, SMEs can enjoy the superior computing power 24/7. The cloud service providers have invested in reliable IT and disaster management systems, which means, that you should virtually never be let down when relying on the cloud for your business applications. However, the cloud concept came fast and came flimsy, in other words it was much like telling someone that their new car would run on a secret chemical but then not telling them what it was, if it was dangerous, if it was expensive or even where they could buy it. Much like the electric car story there wasn’t enough fact around the initial introduction of the cloud to give it proper validity. The future of the cloud, whilst dependent on the financial benefit argument, will also depend on how much confidence can be built around the security of the customers’ data and also how fast and available these resources will be.
Food for Thought W
e tend to just accept that part of our work automatically involves stress, worry, exhaustion and a frazzled head at the end of the week. We then require the weekend to ‘recharge our batteries’. We often trade off our wellbeing for our salary or, vice versa. Too few of us however realise that food is our fuel and it can either work for us or against us. With the right nutrition you can be more resistant to stress, more energetic, optimistic, hard working, confident, motivated and effective, allowing you to make fewer errors of judgment or absent-minded mistakes. You’ll be able to address problems in a more effective manner because you can think more clearly and aren’t as stressed, mentally taxed or fed up. Net result? You’ll be happier at work! Although establishing the right nutrition plan is a very individual process, the following three points should form the foundation of any nutritional plan of action you make:
Effective digestion leads to an effective mind
If your digestion is disrupted, so too is everything else; concentration, drive, sound reason, ingenuity and any other qualities needed for effective work performance.
A Stress consumes your vitamins! In a state of illness, the body uses up more nutrients than it does in a healthy, relaxed state. Nutrients from food, vitamin B complex, vitamin C and all minerals are stripped during times of stress. These are called ‘water-soluble’ vitamins, which means that they are not stored in the body and must be replaced every day. These nutrients are responsible for energy production, healthy function and relaxation, without which you become even more stressed, leading you into a vicious cycle. So in order to break this stress pattern, your body requires a regular daily intake of soluble vitamins, which you can get from the following food sources: • Cereal grains • Meat • Poultry • Eggs • Fish/Milk • Legumes (lentils, beans etc.) • Fresh vegetables If you can acknowledge the simple fact that stress is recognised as a state of illness, and look after yourself accordingly, you will give yourself a major advantage over your stressed-out, nutrient-depleted business competitors!
blood is sent to the digestive organs rather than to the brain, leaving you more lethargic and dim-witted than you are supposed to be at work!
Most people can feel when their digestion is working properly and when it is not. So, the action you can take right now is to avoid packaged food that is highly processed, full of chemicals and artificial additives.
Ineffective digestion also means you will not be able to assimilate as many nutrients as your brain needs for optimal function. Probiotic-rich foods are paramount for digestion, since they replenish the gut with good bacteria that help break down your food.
Processed foods are harder to digest than fresh foods and when you consume them,
The adage is that ‘you are what you eat’, so it makes sense to be aware of the relationship between the foods you eat and the effect they have on how you feel.
nutrition supports C Goodyour workload
Vegetables Especially the green variety, help to regulate and enhance our entire bodily system. They are a treasure trove of the vitamins and minerals that are depleted during times of stress, and need daily replenishment.
Just like people with different biological make-ups require different nutrition, different jobs require different food choices for peak performance. For example, an analyst who writes reports all day requires foods that help introspection and stamina, while a sales rep may require foods that foster charisma and liveliness. Take a look at the following foods that improve your capacity to accomplish your goals and responsibilities, while helping to diminish your stress:
Complex carbohydrates Complex carbohydrates are also known as starchy foods and can help reduce anxiety and promote peace of mind. Examples of complex carbohydrates include: • Pasta • Rice • Potatoes • Root veg • Breads • Cereals If a person cannot focus because they are unable calm down, then whole grains may be more beneficial than protein for concentration.
Fats Especially Omega 3s, 6s and 9s. These are called ‘essential fatty acids’ and must be supplied by your diet, as the body cannot manufacture them. These are absolutely necessary for strong brain function and accelerated mental performance. Sources include: Omega 3 - Plant foods such as green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach etc.) flax seeds, walnuts, soya beans and tofu; and oily fish such as snapper, halibut, mackerel, sardines and herring. Omega 6 - Oils such as sunflower, grapeseed, corn, safflower and wheatgerm oils. Omega 9 - Foods such as avocados, peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts. Oils such as extra virgin olive oil, (and olives themselves), almond oil, coconut and sesame oil. High quality saturated fats can be greatly beneficial, but in excess may make you feel mentally and physically sluggish. Combining fats with spices, herbs and acidic foods like lemon or vinegar help to dissolve and digest the fat. An easy example of how to do this is to have a salad with a dressing made from olive oil and lemon juice. High-quality protein, especially fish, can help with focus, concentration, energy and heightened motivation. In excess, however, protein is associated with compulsiveness and aggression.
Stimulants Coffee, sugar, spicy foods, tobacco and other stimulants gear you up for intense cognitive and physical activity. They stimulate blood flow to the brain and invite alertness, but only temporarily. Several hours later, you may have to pay the price with a miserable mood and anxiety, which are symptoms of withdrawal. The great thing about consuming a well-balanced and healthy diet, with a variety of vegetables, along with optimising your digestion, is that it gives the body what it needs to regulate and balance itself. This in turn will help sharp brain function and provide both the energy and relaxation you need for peak performance at work. It’s worth remembering that the way you think affects what you eat, but conversely, the way you eat affects how you think. Food for thought!
Common Office Injuries & Prevention W
orkplace health and safety hazards can be costly (to lives and the bottom line), but the good news is that they are largely preventable if you take the right precautions. Here are our not so fabulous top four office injuries and tips for prevention. HAZARD: 1. Falling down Falling down is not only the most common office accident; it is also the one that causes the highest number of disabling injuries. Here are the usual culprits: • Objects left out to trip on • Furniture that is not well maintained • Loose carpeting or flooring • Open drawers • Using a chair instead of a ladder • Unsecured electrical cord • Slipping on wet floors PREVENTION • Don’t run in the office • Always close drawers completely after each use • Always use a ladder and not a chair for reaching • Avoid excessive bending, twisting or leaning backwards while seated • Wear stable, sensible shoes at work • Always tie together loose cables and bring the employees’ attention to these areas through hazard notices HAZARD: 2. Lifting Lifting even small loads (stacks of files, reams of paper, a computer monitor, etc.) can lead to back, neck and shoulder injury, if you don’t lift properly PREVENTION • Keep your back straight when lifting objects • Pick up the object with your entire hand (not just
• • •
Use the points in this article to produce a ‘Staff Memo’, photocopy and display it at all workstations to ensure that your staff are always aware of work safety
your fingers) and hold the object close to your body Don’t ‘twist’ your body when lifting To put the object down, again use your legs to support you, not your back Push, don’t pull. Pushing places the legs in a natural position to do the work, wheras pulling forces the back into a forward, bending position Do not try to lift an object from a bended position as this places extreme strain on your back
TIPS • Look at the object to lift; if you have any doubt that it is too heavy or cumbersome, ask for help • Position your hips and feet toward the object you are lifting or moving • Maintain the natural curves of your neck, upper and lower back while lifting • Store materials at knee level, not on the floor • Avoid carrying heavy objects for long distances • Use a trolley to move heavy objects • Squat and stand to pick up from the floor HAZARD: 3. Clumsiness If your office is not well organised there can be lots of obstacles for your staff to bump into, get caught in or between that can cause injuries. These include walking into desks, other people, filing cabinets, getting fingers caught in drawers, windows, staplers etc. Long hair and jewellery can also get caught in office machines.
PREVENTION The number 1 way to address clumsy accidents at work is to simply pay attention to what you’re doing. Most clumsy people are not properly aware of their surroundings. When you get up and start walking, look around and see if there is anything that you will step on, or walk into. When using office objects such as staplers or scissors, don’t play around or act the fool with them, be aware of carefully using them as intended.
seating, for the purpose of improving efficiency, comfort, or safety. Examples of bad ergonomics in the workplace include chairs that do not support your back, a computer screen that is positioned too high or low, wrists permanently positioned at a bad angle for typing, etc. These factors can result in musculoskeletal problems of the neck, shoulders and back, poor posture, eyestrain, computer vision syndrome (CVS) and carpal tunnel syndrome. PREVENTION Along with setting up your workstation properly, it is essential to: • Take breaks and move around frequently • Look away from your computer screen for 30 seconds every 10 minutes • Get up to stretch every half hour. This will help to take some of the strain away and reduce your risk of being injured from making repetitive movements (such as typing) without a rest
Otherwise, take some basic safety precautions such as fitting some soft ‘corner bumpers’ to desks, put a notice beside office machines suggesting that long hair be tied back, fit window stops on windows and door holders on hinges to prevent injuries to hands. Do not wear excessive or inappropriate jewellery to the office. This includes: • Dangling or hoop earrings • Long chains or necklaces • Loose fitting bracelets • Large/chunky rings HAZARD: 4. Bad ergonomics ‘Ergonomics’ is the term used to describe the study of equipment design, office furniture or transportation
“Safety is not an intellectual exercise to keep us in work. It is a matter of life and death. It is the sum of our contributions to safety management that determines whether the people we work with live or die”
Sir Brian Appleton, after Piper Alpha:
TIP Every company will, at some time or another, have to deal with first aid emergencies. Even in workplaces that seem safe, many types of emergencies can happen. Not only is it mandatory in the UAE to have a qualified first aider for every one hundred employees, but it is critical to be prepared at all times to quickly and effectively deal with these situations. BENEFITS OF FIRST AID There are many benefits of first aid. First aid can: • Save lives (in the case of seriously injured or ill persons) • Reduce the chance of permanent damage (for example, prompt flushing of the eyes with water after a chemical splash can prevent blindness); help prevent an injury from becoming more serious (for example, cleaning and bandaging a cut can help prevent infection and further problems) • Minimise the length and extent of medical treatment • Reduce lost time from work • Minimise the risk of potential legal action if a first aider is not present to assist INVEST IN PROPER TRAINING Training employees in first aid has benefits. For example, research shows that people trained in first aid have fewer and less severe accidents, both on and off the job, than untrained people. However, make sure that you use one of the 29 accredited first aid providers in the UAE, says Dr Omar Al Sakaf, Emergency Medical Services Consultant with Dubai Corporation of Ambulance Services (DCAS). “You can do any emergency first aid procedure on a basic level but you have to be certified from an authorised centre.” Always remember that no matter what profession you are in, workplace safety is of the utmost importance. Employers should always ensure that their employees get all the safety benefits that are entitled in their profession and employees should also ensure that they follow all the safety regulations.
Are You Fit for Business? W
e hear so much about the physical benefits of regular exercise. We hear less however about the effects that exercise and staying fit have on our ‘cognitive function’ - the mental activities by which we acquire and process information that becomes knowledge. Much research has been conducted to look at how well people perform mentally during and immediately after an exercise session. Business tasks influenced by exercise During a session of moderately intense aerobic exercise, (such as comfortably running on a treadmill) mental performance improves in several measurable ways: • Reaction time • Perception and interpretation of visual images • Control and focus Of these, exercise exerts the most positive influence on executive tasks such as: • Planning • Scheduling • Coordination of people, places, events, etc. • Working memory - the brain’s ability to temporarily store and manage the information required to carry out complex mental functions • Inhibition - the ability to block out unnecessary distractions Effects of exercise intensity Moderate intensity aerobic exercise, that keeps you breathing a little faster and makes you sweat, is probably the optimal intensity exercise to get a mental boost. With this kind of exercise, your body is activating the nervous system and raising levels of adrenalin. These are said to be the two main factors that drive enhanced mental performance. At a high intensity of exercise, (boxing session, circuit training etc.) you will really perceive your level of exertion and this sensation will quite likely interfere with your concentration and ability to perform mental tasks.
Fluid intake, exercise and mental performance Any kind of dehydration is associated with a marked reduction in mental performance, regardless of whether it is exercise-induced or caused by other factors. However, the decreased mental function immediately after dehydration from exercise can be quickly reversed once you drink fluids. In order to avoid dehydration, drink water or sports drinks during exercise. Sports drinks that contain simple carbohydrates (sugar) may provide a mental advantage. Your brain needs a constant supply of glucose to function normally. During exercise, the body prefers to use glucose as the main energy source for working the muscles, including the heart and the muscles used to expand the lungs. Boosting work performance now and for the future In the short term, each session of aerobic exercise such as using a stationary bike, treadmill or elliptical machine, will not only be improving your fitness, your ability to concentrate on and perform mental tasks will also likely be enhanced. People who are more fit tend to have greater motivation, eat a healthier diet and be more engaged in their own health care, which in turns makes them fit for business. Fitness tips for business travellers When you’re travelling for business, you can stick to your fitness routine by using these simple travel workout tips to maintain your fitness programme when you’re away from home. Pack for fitness Before your trip, contact the hotel and ask about onsite fitness facilities then pack accordingly. Your travel workout essentials may include: • Athletic shoes • Exercise/swimming gear • Skipping-rope/resistance band • Music and headphones • Exercise DVD A little dedication and planning can help you stay in shape and fit for business, even when you’re travelling.
People who are more fit tend to have greater motivation, eat a healthier diet and be more engaged in their own health care, which in turns makes them fit for business
“The only workout you’ll ever regret is the one you didn’t
Networking and the Business Card H
ave you ever noticed how the words ‘networking event’ can sometimes make your eyes roll involuntarily? It shouldn’t be a logical reaction, as this is how we make new business contacts, introduce our products and services, generate sales and even make friends, but sometimes, people can easily blow the opportunity to make friends and influence people. Fast forward to ‘network night’ and picture me, orange juice in hand, scanning the room for name badges with job titles that read ‘Marketing Manager, MD and Corporate Communications Manager’. I accidentally make eye contact with someone, who like a lion catching the scent of prey in the Serengeti, suddenly takes an interest and targets me for an approach. One sip of orange juice, a broad smile and business card at the ready, and I’m all set to deal with any amount of poor networking clichés that generally start with: ‘Hi, I’m John Smith, how are you? Sorry, I haven’t actually got any cards with me…+ excuse.’ Sheesh, and you wonder why my eyes roll?! Your business card is the most powerful business tool you can invest in. It is compact, low cost and keeps on working for you hours, weeks and even years after it is given to potential new clients. Your business card…
• Tells people your name and the name of your business • Provides potential clients with the means to contact you • Gives them a taste of your work, style and personality • Can be so unusual or charming that it stays in the memory like a television ad • Can be reused, giving a consistent message from person to person viewing it Great business cards start with great design and influential copy. After that, the success of your business card as a marketing tool depends on distribution. Aside from giving your card when networking and attending meetings, the most common advice regarding business card distribution is to include them with your direct mail campaigns, ask other businesses if you can leave a stack of them at their reception and to give multiple cards to the same person with a request to pass some on to their contacts. Those of you who were at the SME Connects networking event recently may have had the pleasure of meeting a very successful Marketing Director (now Independent Consultant), who is known for his creative and innovative approaches to generating business. We got talking about the subject of business cards and he made an excellent suggestion for the creative distribution of business cards, that I believe will benefit you. As publishers of DMCC’s official business magazine, he asked what it would cost for us to reproduce his business card, as a printed version, within every issue of Business Insight magazine and allow it to be distributed as part of the magazine itself. We’ve since agreed internally that it makes sense editorially, while providing you with a strong competitive advantage, as it gets directly into the hands of the decision-makers based in DMCC, TECOM, DIFC, and surrounding business areas, reaching over 46,000 subscribers each month.
Want to be included in our Network? Talk to the man who can make it possible, Brendan Bosley, Business Insight’s Business Development Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org Or call him on + 971 4 375 4619 If his line is busy, please call back! I’d also like to hear from you with your ideas about creative business card distribution; we’ll be putting the best suggestions on our website: email@example.com
THE HUB To feature your business card here, contact
Helene Mathieu B.C.L., LL.B. Barrister & Solicitor Dubai Office Suite 402, Bank Street Building Khalid Bin Waleed Street P.O.Box 28845, Dubai, UAE E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (+971-4) 352 5303 Fax: (+971-4) 351 9877
Paris Office 67, Bd Haussmann 75008, Paris Tel: +33 (0)1 40 67 87 47 Fax: +33 (0)1 40 67 76 40
Serviced Offices Dr. Ann-Marie Carbery Antoun Director - Business Advisory
a. P.O. Box 643554 Swiss Tower, JLT, Dubai - UAE t. +971 (4) 3695520 f. +971 (4) 3695521 m. +971 50 6622951 e. email@example.com w. www.contaxpartners.com
Accountancy & Auditors
Director & Solicitor (UK)
Mob. : 00971 55 882 7328
Copa Shipping DMCC 2301, Saba Tower 1, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, P O Box 487673, Dubai, UAE. T +971 4 4517722 F +971 4 4517733 firstname.lastname@example.org
Licensed as a FREEZONE Company by DMCC
Tel. : 00971 4 363 3637, Fax : 00971 4 362 8000 P.O. Box : 340505, Almas Tower, 49th Floor, Jumeriah Lake Towers, Dubai, UAE Linkedin: http://ae.linkedin.com/pub/jennifer-arkhurst/4/5b0/802 Email : email@example.com Website : www.arkhurstabdellah-legalabc.com
HR & Payroll Services
Business Development Manager Business Insight
nuria gonzalez-martin Nhr director
talk to nuria +971 (0)4 3754273 fax nuria +971 (0)4 4207835 email firstname.lastname@example.org visit the website www.realhrconsult.com write to nuria at indigo icon, jumeirah lake towers, dubai, po box 53864
Modelling and Events Agency
To advertise here Contact Brendan Bosley
Through Humour Preparation, thinking on your feet & communications This is a true story. It concerned Guy Goma, a business graduate from the Congo, who attended the BBC building in West London for an interview for an IT job. At the same time, the BBC News 24 TV channel was expecting a Guy Kewney, Editor of the website Newswireless.net, for a live studio interview about the Apple court case judgement where surviving Beatles McCartney and Starr, lost their case against Apple Computers, in which they sought to prevent the Apple name being used in relation to iTunes music downloads. Due to failed communications, entirely the BBC’s fault, the BBC News 24 staff grabbed the wrong ‘Guy’ who, being an unassuming and extremely polite fellow, dutifully took his place in the studio, and after declining make-up, was introduced on live TV to viewers as Guy Kewney, Editor of the technology website ‘Newswireless’. He was then asked questions by the BBC News 24 business presenter Karen Bowerman about the Apple judgements and its implications for internet music downloading. Meanwhile the real Guy Kewney sat and watched ‘himself’ on the monitor in the BBC reception. Just look up the keywords ‘BBC Interviews Wrong Guy’ on Youtube to watch this video for yourself – Guy Goma’s facial expressions of shock and fear are priceless to behold! What is so utterly fascinating about this story and the supporting video, is Guy Goma initially expresses surprise about the unexpected interview situation, but, largely due to his broken English and heavy French accent, the interviewer interprets and leads Mr Goma’s response to mean that he is surprised about the court judgement. If you listen carefully, Guy Goma does actually mention his ‘interview’ in his first answer. However the pressure of the situation is too great and he has little option other than to play out the role that fate created for him.
He actually does quite well in the interview, given that he knows little about the subject.
“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him”
“Success in almost any field depends more on energy, drive and confidence”
“If it’s stupid but works… it isn’t stupid!”
Lessons learnt from this: • Good clear communications are essential when managing any sort of interview (Remember that some interviewers like to throw curveball questions, just to see how you’ll react!) • Pressure situations can easily lead people (especially interviewees) to give false impressions • The behaviours demonstrated in this incident illustrate the power of suggestion • All communications involve a lot more than just words • The power of the media to interpret just about anything for their own journalistic purposes is bloody frightening! 3 Tips for handling the unexpected When presenting information in a seminar or a conference, your listeners will expect time for Q&As. The following tips may help you keep your poise for the unexpected. Never announce how much time you have for questions Stay flexible simply by asking if there are any questions, and control how many you want to take. Then, if there are no questions, or only a few, you are safe to go directly into your prepared close. Buy time before you answer You can buy thinking time by taking a sip of water or commenting on the question itself: “That’s a very perceptive question and I don’t know if you’ll agree with my answer, but. . . .” Make your body language, voice and movement support you Take charge with your posture, body language, eye contact and vocal tone. Do not be tentative. Project an attitude of anticipation, eagerness and confidence - before you even open your mouth!
Xmas Party Cost v Return
e are coming up to that time of year when your staff are buzzing with anticipation about the annual work Xmas party – and that can only mean one thing – it’s going to cost you! As with all financial decisions, the return on investment (ROI) for the Xmas party expense is what many business owners will focus upon. Before you dig around for your Scrooge hat, it is worth remembering that there are many hidden advantages for smart business owners that show their employees one helluva good time at Xmas. Getting a perspective on cost Assuming the Xmas party costs say $100-200 per employee, and it is viewed as a ‘reward’ for loyal service throughout the year, it doesn’t seem so much when measured as a percentage of the average annual salary in your company.
Take the time to find out what your employees think of their job processes and how they feel they can be improved. You will almost certainly learn from this opportunity
Many companies find that the real value in ‘xmassing’ their staff (no, it wasn’t a real word until now) far outweighs the cost when considering the return on investment in terms of inter-company networking, team spirit, motivation, loyalty and perhaps surprisingly, the potential for business growth and innovation. Employers also tend to enjoy an ‘afterglow’ effect of higher productivity after a good Xmas celebration. Inter-company networking and team spirit At no other time of year is there such a natural opportunity for the entire workforce to come together, get to know each other as people and network in such a relaxed, friendly and team-spirited way. Just take a moment to think about how valuable an opportunity you are giving to both your employees and yourself, as the boss. Once your people really get to know each other, individuals are more relaxed, happier in themselves and team spirit goes through the roof, which makes the company function better as a whole thereafter. Appreciation and motivation For your part, as the boss, you can use the opportunity of a good Xmas bash to ensure that you speak individually to every member of staff and…smile at them. This works wonders for morale and motivation going into the new year. Making sure you take the opportunity to address your staff before dinner can further enhance the value of a good Xmas knees-up. This could include some ‘Annual Recognition Certificates Awards’, which are a great way to celebrate success, encourage increased personal performance, pride and motivation going forward. Most hotel venues in the UAE are perfectly suited to staging an afternoon conference or presentation before the party, which enables you to directly thank all of your employees for their work.
Boosting morale within the company Celebrating the team’s achievements at the end of the year is still a cost-effective and proven method of improving staff morale and job satisfaction. The opportunity that the employees have to interact directly with the head of the company is one that many employees do not regularly enjoy, but greatly appreciate. This can have the effect of creating a feeling of ‘belonging’ to the company for each individual. It is also very rare, if ever, that the full workforce actually spend time together. Facilitating this, in a way that your employees feel valued, gives you the benefit of a stronger, more cohesive workforce to take into the new year. Inspiration for innovation As a Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director, you should never forget that your employees are the ones who fight your company’s daily battles, serve your customers, explore new markets and fend off competitors. As such they possess the unique insights from which come great and innovative ideas – just ask Google, 3M and Apple, to name just three examples of companies who actively listen to their employees’ ideas. The office Xmas party is an ideal opportunity to get close to and tap into this pool of innovation and creative potential, from all of your company’s functions and ranks. In this uniquely informal setting of your office party, take the time to find out what your employees think of their job processes and how they feel they can be improved. You will almost certainly learn from this opportunity. Really, as long you do something that your staff will enjoy (and perhaps give some input to) and they feel genuinely appreciated for a job well done, then you will go a long way towards a happy, motivated, cohesive and loyal team for the future. Check out our recommended Xmas party options (overleaf) to treat your staff this year, and enjoy the gifts of success that they will then bring you in 2013.
Welcome to the Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers - Dubai The Bonnington Hotel Dubai is located in the heart of Jumeirah Lakes Towers along Sheikh Zayed Road, just opposite Dubai Marina and in walking distance of Jumeirah Lakes Towers metro station. It is a 5-star hotel with 208 luxurious rooms and suites (all non-smoking), 272 deluxe serviced hotel apartments, 5 restaurants and bars, 4 conference suites and a recent addition to the portfolio – The ALMAS CONFERENCE CENTRE - Managed by Bonnington. This is a 450sqm multi-functional conference facility with the capacity to host 550 guests. The hotel also boasts a Leisure Deck on the 11th floor with infinity pool, state of the art gym, pool bar, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna as well as a hairdressing salon for ladies. The hotel also offers Business Club rooms & suites, an attended business centre and 4 conference rooms all featuring a variety of facilities and services to make corporate life easy! Enjoy the luxurious surroundings, outstanding facilities and traditional Bonnington hospitality in an ideal location. We also provide shuttle services to the airport, all main shopping malls, and to Jumeirah Beach Residence. Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster J, P.O. Box 37246, Dubai, U.A.E, Phone: +971 4 3560000, Fax: +971 4 3560400, E-mail: email@example.com WWW.BONNINGTONTOWER.COM
Our top four Christmas party venue recommendations Marco Pierre White – Titanic Celebrate from 11am to 3pm with a superior British a la carte brunch, sharing dishes and a carving trolley, while old school 80’s and 90’s tracks take you on a one-way trip to Nostalgia-ville. Right-o! Located in the new Melia Hotel, 23 Kuwait Street, Port Rashid, Dubai AED 199 net per person, including soft drinks and water AED 299 net per person, including soft drinks, water and bubbly To book, call: +971 4 386 8111 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosso – Bar, Enoteca & Ristorante Rosso is one of JBR’s best kept and favourite Italian spots when it comes to fine dining! Offering the breadth of finest Italian cuisine and international beverages, Rosso is the true point of reference and the trendy meeting place for meals, business gatherings and special occasions like Christmas and New Year. With it’s location overlooking the Arabian Gulf and fantastic views of The Palm Island, Rosso is an idyllic outdoor dining destination. Rosso has something for everyone! To book, call: +971 4 428 3088 or email: email@example.com
OKKU – Japanese Restaurant & Lounge OKKU, the award-winning luxury Japanese Restaurant and Lounge, serves up unique signature dishes created by celebrity super chefs who have cooked for the Hollywood A-list. Seating over 200 people in three areas, OKKU caters to different experiences in the chic bar, mezzanine lounge - which includes VIP dining rooms - and main restaurant with sushi bar. OKKU’s own take on modern Japanese cuisine sets it apart from the competition, and the menu offers a range of exciting and unique dishes that suit a range of tastes. To book, call: +971 4 501 8777 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mahiki – Jumeirah Beach Hotel Take your colleagues and clients on an escape to a Polynesian paradise this festive season! Laid back yet chic surroundings, heavenly tropical cocktails and a menu of light bites and sharing dishes. From table bookings for just your team, to fabulous parties for up to 150 guests, Mahiki prides itself on its fun, friendly atmosphere. Exclusive hire of the Club area available. Come say Aloha! To book, call: +971 55 216 0181 or email: email@example.com
Reading Financial Statements U
Cash Cash is the only game in town! Cash meets your bills and obligations. Inventory, receivables, land, building, machinery and equipment do not pay obligations, even though they can be sold for cash and then used to pay bills.
nderstanding financial statements is critically important to the small business and can be used as a roadmap on your business journey to economic success. Most business owners don’t realise that financial statements have a value that goes far beyond their use to meet costs or simply show profit. Let’s open up the file and get to the bottom line…
Accounts receivable (A/R) Accounts receivable are monies due from customers (debtors). The receivable exists only for the time period between the selling of your product/service and the receipt of the payment.
Balance sheet The balance sheet shows your company’s financial position, what it owns (assets) and what it owes (liabilities and net worth) at any given time. The ‘bottom line’ of a balance sheet must always balance (i.e. assets = liabilities + net worth). Liabilities and net worth Liabilities and net worth on the balance sheet show your company’s sources of funds. These are composed of ‘creditors’ and ‘investors’ who have provided cash or its equivalent to the company in the past. ‘Assets’, on the other hand, represent your company’s use of funds. The company uses cash or other funds provided by the creditor/investor to acquire assets. Assets include all the things of value that are owned or due to the business. Liabilities represent your company’s obligations to creditors, while net worth represents your investment in the business. Current assets Current assets are those which mature in less than 1 year. Some people believe this means just cash or immediate receivables, but they are actually the sum of the following categories: • Cash • Accounts Receivable (A/R) • Inventory (Inv) • Notes Receivable (N/R) • Prepaid Expenses • Other Current Assets
Most business owners don’t realise that financial statements have a value that goes far beyond their use to meet costs or simply show profit.
Inventory Inventory consists of the goods and materials that you purchase to re-sell at a profit. If your business sells a product, then inventory is often the first use of cash. It is very important that the level of inventory be well managed so that the business does not keep too much cash tied up in this way, as it will reduce profits and affect the cashflow needed to meet your bills and obligations. At the same time, a company must keep sufficient inventory on hand to prevent ‘stockouts’ (having nothing to sell). Notes receivable (N/R) N/R is a receivable due to the company, in the form of a promissory note, arising because the company made a loan, or extended credit. Other current assets Other current assets consist of prepaid expenses and other miscellaneous and current assets. Fixed assets Fixed assets mean the use of cash to buy physical assets whose life exceeds 1 year. They include: • Land • Building • Machinery and equipment • Furniture and fixtures • Leasehold improvement • Intangibles
THE HUB • • •
Intangibles means the use of cash to purchase assets with an undetermined life and which may never mature into cash. Intangibles consist of assets such as: • Research and development • Patents • Market research • Goodwill • Organisational expense
If the company has been sued, but the litigation has not been initiated, there is no way of knowing whether or not the suit will result in a liability to the company. It will be listed in the footnotes because while not a real liability, it does represent a potential liability, which may impair the ability of the company to meet future obligations.
Other assets Other assets consist of miscellaneous accounts such as deposits and long-term notes receivable from third parties. They are turned into cash when the asset is sold or when the note is repaid. Total Assets represent the sum of all the assets owned by or due to the business. Current liabilities Current liabilities are those obligations that will mature and must be paid within 12 months, such as an overdraft. These are liabilities that can create a company’s insolvency if you don’t have sufficient cash. Notes payable Notes payable are obligations in the form of promissory notes with short-term maturity dates of less than 12 months. Often, they are demand notes (payable upon demand). Other times they have specific maturity dates (30-360 days maturities are typical). The notes payable always include only the principal amount of the debt. Accounts payable Accounts payable are obligations due to trade suppliers (creditors) who have provided inventory or goods and services used in operating the business. (Whenever possible you should take advantage of payment terms.)
Lawsuits Warranties Cross Guarantees
Total liabilities Total liabilities represent the sum of all monetary obligations of a business and all claims creditors have on its assets.
It is very important that the level of inventory be well managed so that the business does not keep too much cash tied up
Equity Equity is represented by total assets minus total liabilities. Equity or ‘net worth’ is the most patient and last to mature source of funds. It represents the owners’ share in the financing of all the assets. Income statement Known also as the profit and loss statement (P&L), the income statement shows all income and expenses over a period of time – i.e. it shows how profitable the business is. Remember that an income statement does not reveal hidden problems like insufficient cashflow problems. In the next issue we will look at credit terms, cashflow management and its benefits for business, as part of our ongoing series on Financial Mastery.
Non-current liabilities Non-current liabilities are those obligations that will not become due and payable in the coming year. There are three types of non-current liabilities, only two of which are listed on the balance sheet: • Non-current Portion of Long Term Debt (LTD) • Subordinated Officer Loans (Sub-Off) • Contingent Liabilities The ‘Non-Current Portion of Long Term Debt’ is the principal portion of a term loan not payable in the coming year. ‘Subordinated Officer Loans’ are treated as an item that lies between debt and equity. Contingent liabilities listed in the footnotes are potential liabilities, which hopefully never become due. Notes payable to the officers or shareholders represent cash which the shareholders (or owners) have put into the business. ‘Contingent Liabilities’ are potential liabilities that are not listed on the balance sheet. They are listed in the footnotes because they may never become due and payable. Contingent liabilities include:
Connect the Dots Book Review
f you are a specialist in the field that forms the basis of your business offering, it stands to reason that there will be other areas such as financial planning and management, marketing, sales and ICT, in which you will definitely value advice and direction. Any entrepreneur will tell you that good solid business intelligence and counsel are invaluable.
While you may well agree yourself, the reality is that trawling through the Internet, attending courses and seminars and having endless discussions and debates with peers about best practice is never going to be a practical way of getting the information and advice you need – because you need it all now! And yet, the information is needed to help you consider the many and various aspects of the business you run, in such a way as you can connect the dots of running a business. Business education books are doubtlessly useful, except that you have to commit blocks of time to actually reading them! I’m impressed by a solution to the problem of how to efficiently absorb essential business information, provided by John Lincoln, VP for Enterprise Marketing at Du, in his new book ‘Connecting the Dots’. Lincoln has found a clever way to impart the kind of business intelligence that every entrepreneur will want to implement immediately, but cleverly arranged in ‘bite-sized parcels’. This makes ‘Connect the Dots’ suitable for reading while travelling, or just by flicking through and selecting any of the 30 chapters that tempt you with headings such as ‘Enticing and Tempting Your Customers to Sin’. One thing is certain, you will want to read it all. What can you learn from this book? There are 30 chapters of spot-on relevant and highly motivational business advice that will strike chords with every business owner. This is just a small taster of what you’ll learn: Your exit strategy Interestingly, Lincoln’s opening advice is to know your exit strategy right from the start of the business. This may seem unnecessary if you know you’re planning to be with the business for the long haul, but Lincoln gives 7 compelling reasons that will instantly change your mind, through the power of sheer logic.
How to offer more than just a value proposition As business people we have come to believe that offering a value proposition to a client is what it takes to win their business. While this certainly increases our chances of attaining the sale, Lincoln shows us how to go one step further in eliciting and retaining business from new clients.
from John Lincoln’s ‘Connect the Dots.’
Marketing to women This may sound like potentially dangerous territory in which to venture, but it is a fact that many SMEs, headed by both male and females, actively target just male decision-makers in business. Lincoln’s particular brand of experience and hindsight-based business insight clearly illustrates how wrong this strategy can be, and gives an excellent description of the subtleties involved in marketing to women.
final conclusive guide to the ’30 dots that
How to value your business In this chapter, Lincoln describes, in the most straight-talking fashion, the simple formulae that you should apply to establish what your business is worth. Also described are the reasons why it is important to know the value of the business at any given time. It is my guess that even the most enthusiastic of business owners will learn something new here.
“Regardless of your previous business experience, and arguably because of it, expect to learn unexpected business lessons Perhaps the most poignant portion of the book, and a part that I am certain that all entrepreneurs will devour with relish, is the must be connected’. For me it is very simple – if SME business owners and entrepreneurs follow the advice contained in Lincoln’s ‘Connect the Dots’, they will without a doubt experience business growth and success.” Kay Marham, Editor, Business Insight Magazine.
How to be in
2 Places at Once
Mobile Office Gadgets
hanks to mobile devices many business owners can be both ‘in’ and ‘out’ of the office at the same time. With a fast Internet connection, a smartphone, a laptop or netbook and a few other mobile tools, you can rule your business kingdom from virtually anywhere.
The new Apple iPhone 5:
Here are the mobile office tools and tech every entrepreneur on-the-go should have. We haven’t included a laptop, netbook, or smartphone on this list, assuming that you’ve already got what you need in those departments.
2. Portable printer If you’re staying somewhere for an extended period, you may need the ability to print (sales orders, hopefully!) The most convenient option is a portable printer. Weighing in at around 9 kilos, the HP Officejet 100 Mobile L411A mobile printer is probably too hefty for flying, but fine if you’re going by car, even though it has no battery. 3. A portable keyboard and mouse Yes, I know. Your laptop or netbook already has a keyboard and input device. But if you plan to use your portable computer for hours at a time, you need a better ergonomic set up. For sheer portability Logitech’s stylish diNovo Edge keyboard for Windows computers includes its own built-in navigation controls so you can forego an
As for an external mouse, you could pack the one you use in your office or pick up Microsoft’s USB Compact Optical Mouse 500, which shouldn’t let you down. 4. Solid notebook Don’t try to go super mobile and work solely from a tablet if you really need to get work done. While you can try to work on the iPad or other Android tablets, you cannot beat a good notebook. The MacBook Air is solid option, but the HP ProBook 4530s, which has backlit keys and a portable form factor, is an equally good option.
1. Google Voice and Skype Google Voice is a free call transfer/voicemail service that can make life a lot easier for professionals on the move. The free VoIP service from Skype is a great alternative to Google Voice. In addition to making free Skypeto-Skype audio and video chats to anyone around the world, you can make calls to landline and mobile phones at extremely low rates, have video chats with up to two people and, through a free beta version of Skype for Windows, you can hold video conferences with up to five people.
external mouse. It also connects via Bluetooth and is rechargeable, freeing you from having to hunt for replacement batteries.
Larger, vibrant display; powerful performance; great camera, superior battery, that lasts the whole day, or 5 hours for media streaming. The bigger touchscreen makes playing with apps and browsing the web more enjoyable.
5. Power inverter No matter how long your battery claims to last, if you need to be serious about working on the go, you need access to power. You can pick up power inverters on Amazon.com, at most local electronics stores, or try Eurostar Communications in Deira, Dubai. Power inverters usually have a USB charging port that handles many phones /gizmos, but not those with major power demands. 6. Car charger splitter If you have a multitude of gadgets, or travel with colleagues, you absolutely need this accessory. For approximately $10 you can triple your available car charging ports. Even if you don’t get any other accessory, this is a great addition to your mobile tool kit. You can use the splitter with a small USB adapter and the power inverter as part of your office-to-go bag. 7. Solar mobile charger Solarway have a neat little new gadget that charges your mobile using solar power. It comes with a set of adaptors, so will charge most phones. The battery technology allows the product to operate efficiently and safely in temperatures of up to 50 degrees – perfect for all year round business travel.
China economy slows for 7th quarter
UK and Germany push for multinational companies to pay ‘fair share’ of tax
China’s economy slowed for a seventh straight quarter in July-September, missing the Government’s target for the first time since the depths of the global financial crisis, even though further data pointed to a year-end rebound. The National Bureau of Statistics said GDP grew 7.4 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier - in line with forecasts from economists polled by Reuters - the first miss of the official target since the first quarter of 2009’s 6.5 percent. Industrial production, retail sales and investment data were all slightly ahead of forecasts however, and quarter-on-quarter GDP growth was strong, suggesting the worst may be over and the world’s No.2 economy will pick up in the final quarter - as a once-a-decade leadership transition gets under way in Beijing. “Growth this quarter should be back above 8 percent,” said Kevin Lai, Hong Kong-based economist. “The worst should be over. We are seeing better numbers in industrial production and retail sales.” Riskier assets reacted positively, with Asian shares outside Japan rising to a 7-month high, while the Australian dollar, sensitive to Chinese demand for industrial commodities, touched its highest in two weeks. While GDP growth at 7.4 percent would be cause for joy in recessionstalked developed economies, it represents
The UK and Germany are looking to tighten loopholes which have previously allowed multinational companies to not pay tax, and looked to garner support whilst at the G20 summit in Mexico. George Osborne and Wolfgang Schaeuble (Finance Ministers for England and Germany respectively) said in a joint press conference that the global taxation of companies has not kept up to date with the change in global business practice. This means that companies are able to exploit loopholes in taxation allowing them not to pay tax on profits, where profits are made.
The practice in what the UK call “Tax Avoidance”, came about after Starbucks legally lowered their tax bill with intercompany loans, paying fees to foreign subsidiaries and allocating money made in the UK to other units in so-called transfer pricing. Whilst initially the changes, if made, are to be made to capture taxes from large corporates, as it becomes encumbered into tax law, this will undoubtedly affect all areas of business, as it filters down to those who have any operations in more than one country.
US to become the world’s biggest oil producer
The International Energy Agency (IEA) have said that the USA is to become the world’s biggest producer and supplier of oil by 2020, overtaking Saudi Arabia. Currently, the USA is believed to import 20% of it’s energy source, however, by 2035, they are thought to be able to be entirely self sufficient. Its lead has been gained by embracing new technologies such as ‘fracking’, which is the process undertaken for the extraction of shale gas, that has been banned or limited in other countries. The IEA has said that there will be
a substantial growth in the demand for oil in the next two decades which is being driven by emerging nations; this is expected to reach a 14% increase or 99.7 million barrels a day. The price of oil will also rise to $125 a barrel by 2035, which is an increase on the 20% previously forecast. The key to global output is Iraq. If Iraq can achieve political stability with their oil reserves, it is ideally situated to be able to supply the growth demand of the Asian market, and forecasts would have to be substantially revised.
a sharp slowdown for China, where GDP grew 9.2 percent in 2011 and has averaged an annual rate near 10 percent for three decades. Fixed-asset investment rose 20.5 percent in January-September from a year earlier, ahead of the 20.2 percent consensus forecast, although still down from the 25 percent seen for most of last year. Consumption also quickened, with retail sales in September expanding by 14.2 percent year-on-year, ahead of the 13.2 percent forecast, which would have been unchanged from August. Growth in factory output came in at 9.2 percent, slightly ahead of both the 9.0 percent forecast and August’s 8.9 percent. Real estate investment, which affects more than 40 other sectors from cement and steel to furniture, rose 15.4 percent in the first nine months of 2012 from a year earlier, slowing from an annual increase of 15.6 percent in January-August. “The September data indicates economic momentum has picked up strongly compared with July and August,” said Zhang Zhiwei, Chief China Economist at Nomura in Hong Kong. “New project investment picked up further in September, indicating infrastructure investment will continue to rise in coming months. This data set helps reinforce our view that growth will rebound visibly in Q4.”
World News USA
Global Stock Markets wait out US and Europe worries The global Stock Market has muted due to concerns over the ‘fiscal cliff’ that America is about to reach, whilst the dollar itself has strengthened against the Euro, to a 2-month high, and against all major currencies, on the back of fears over Europe’s debt crisis. The ‘fiscal cliff’ is a series of tax increases, some of which were enacted under the presidency of George W Bush,
Japan on the brink of another recession The economy of the third quarter in Japan has again shrunk; global growth has slowed and tensions with China, have all nudged the world’s 3rd largest economy into recession. The fall in GDP has an annual rate of decline of 3.5%. Based on this data, it shows that Japan is falling into recession. A recession is commonly defined as two consistent quarters of contraction. The Government are calling on the Bank of Japan to boost fiscal stimulus by quantative easing, although experts predict that this will not happen prior to mid December, after the Federal Reserve is due to meet. Both Sony and Panasonic have slashed spending as they struggle to cope with losses due to competitive markets and a strong yen. The ongoing row with China over the sovereignty of islands in the China Red Sea has led to China boycotting Japanese goods. This, and a slide in exports has led to the decline.
Russia slowdown deepens
An investment deceleration which, coupled with a slowing of consumer spending, has caused Russia’s growth to falter in the third quarter, and GDP to stand at 2.9% year-on-year. This growth rate is a substantial discount when compared to 4.9% in the first quarter and 4% in the second quarter, as Russia continues to feel the impact of a cooling global economy. This trend is set to continue.
as well as spending cuts, which were agreed to reduce the Government deficit. These are due to kick in on January 1st 2013. Reuters have reported that unless the deeply divided US Congress can reach a $600 billion in both spending cuts and higher taxes, the consequences mean that America is highly likely to be pushed back into recession, affecting world growth.
EU 2013 budget talks in crisis G20 agree amid row over spending
The EU has reached deadlock in talks on next year’s budget, with Governments refusing demands for extra money. The crisis comes ahead of a summit intended to map out EU spending plans for the next seven years. Euro MPs previously refused to attend talks because the Governments (the Council) did not approve an extra 9bn Euro ($12bn) in ‘emergency funding’ for this year. The European Commission will now have to redraft the 2013 budget plan. If there is no deal before January, the current budget will be rolled over monthby-month, and any increase in spending then requires agreement between the Commission, Council and Members of the European Parliament. Correspondents say the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden are pushing hardest for the EU to rein in spending. On a visit to Italy last month the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, failed to get support from his Italian counterpart Mario Monti for the UK stance on the EU budget. “Our positions have elements which do not perfectly coincide, to use British understatement,” said Mr Monti, who was formerly an EU Commissioner. “We are less convinced than the United Kingdom about the need for a significant reduction.”
‘Raiding taxpayers’ In Brussels the European Parliament President, Martin Schulz, told 15 Prime Ministers that MEPs would not negotiate on the 2013 budget because there was no agreement on the extra 9bn Euro requested to meet this year’s EU bills. The Commission says the 9bn Euro would cover commitments in the areas of infrastructure, research and education. The UK’s Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Greg Clark, said “it is senseless that the only budget deal the European Parliament is interested in is one that massively increases EU spending - raiding Europe’s taxpayers.” “The UK has been very clear from the outset that the EU should not be demanding billions of Euro more from taxpayers when everyone is making economies at home.” The EU Commission and European Parliament want an EU budget rise of 6.8% in 2013. But most Governments want to limit the rise to just 2.8%, and the UK Government, led by the Conservatives, wants EU spending frozen at 2011 levels. The UK Government also opposes a proposed 5% increase in the multi-year budget for 2014-2020, compared with the current 2007-2013 budget, threatening a veto if necessary.
to more room for manoeuvre on budget deficits
The G20 met and agreed to allow more movement to meet the targets of cutting budget deficits, rather than risk worsening the slow-down in many countries. Previously, all advanced economies had committed to halve budget shortfalls by the end of 2013, but it is believed that this may do more harm than good. “In light of weak financial growth, they will ensure that the pace of fiscal consolidation is appropriate to support the recovery.” G20 policy makers said in a press release following the summit. The original target for cutting the deficits was agreed in Toronto 2010, after it was believed that the worst of the financial crisis had happened. However, it now looks as though these targets are out of reach for many countries, including the USA.
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Regional News Mobile broadband is key to growth
Economies in the Arab Spring countries to recover slowly in 2013 The economies of the countries involved in the Arab Spring will recover slowly throughout 2013, whilst struggling with factors such as high inflation and rising unemployment, due to the global economic outlook, it was predicted in a report conducted by the IMF. The report conceded that political stability would speed up growth slightly in the combined outlook for Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen during 2013, but weak demand in Europe and other countries would impact
In the past three years, numbers of mobile phone subscribers in the Middle East reached 367.5 million. Mobile broadband however still has a long way to go when compared to other countries. The market penetration in the UAE is set to grow by 245% by 2014. Government backed communications companies are the dominant force in some countries, who acted as monopolies prior to the introduction of competition. Now competition is rife, although many of the companies are still partly owned by the Government. Taking into account that the current population stands at 390 million, this shows just how far the penetration of the market has gone.
With huge rates of penetration, the Gulf markets are some of the most ICT ready in the world, but with such high rates of growth, companies are struggling to find where to grow from next. This means margins are decreasing, but moving into mobile broadband would be the obvious option as the Gulf still has a long way to go. There may be concern surrounding the use of mobile Internet and its effects politically (mobile broadband was seen as a major factor in the gathering of momentum which ultimately led to the Arab Spring). There is no doubt that the march of the Internet on the mobile phone is unstoppable. Source: Zawya
on the Arab Spring States. The IMF forecast GDP for these countries including Libya would increase by 3.6%, which is up from 2% this year and 1.2% in 2011. Reuters reported that prior to the uprisings, GDP grew at 4.7%. Inflation is likely to increase in Egypt and Morocco as they introduce their own austerity measures to curb their budget deficits. Conversely, inflation is likely to fall in Libya as business returns ‘to norm’ following the civil war last year, and drop to just 1%.
Iraq investment concerns remain
Nuri al-Maliki may have announced Iraq as the top destination for investment in the Region, but experts have warned that a myriad of problems keep it from being a good choice for all but the most adventurous. Excessive red tape, rampant corruption, an unreliable judicial system and still-inadequate security, as well as a poorly trained workforce and a Statedominated economy all continue to plague Iraq, which last month completed its biggest trade fair in 20 years. “If you want to attract capital, if you want to attract firms, you’ve got to make it positive,” complained one Western Diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “You’ve got to provide the incentives to invest here, and there are already so many disincentives.” A recent World Bank report listed a litany of problems: too small a private
sector, limited access to loans, an exodus of educated Iraqis, decades of isolation from global trade, destroyed infrastructure, unsteady power and water supplies and a poor transport network. “In addition to securing and stabilising the country, these key challenges must be addressed in order for Iraq to truly fulfil its economic potential,” it noted. A survey of firms conducted by the bank listed the three biggest obstacles as poor electricity supply, political instability and corruption. Overall, Iraqi firms lose around 22 percent of their sales to what the World Bank classes as “investment climate weakness,” a greater figure than losses suffered by companies in Yemen, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, Jordan or Morocco. Iraqi officials say they are in the early stages of reforming the economy into more of a market-driven system,
but counsel patience with a country that only recently emerged from a decade of conflict and isolation. “People are impatient; they want you to almost create miracles... and I fully sympathise with them,” said Sami alAraji, head of Iraq’s National Investment Commission. Araji insisted that reforms to Iraq’s bloated State-owned enterprises, antiquated banking sector and legal system were all in the works, but acknowledged that the country’s bureaucracy was averse to wide-scale changes. He said he hoped mooted reforms would remove “all these different chains that have handcuffed” Iraq. It is widely agreed that the country has vast potential rewards for firms that manage to negotiate the various difficulties. A swathe of industries are seen to represent good prospects, including electricity, transportation, construction,
housing, agriculture, healthcare and defence, as well as energy. “You’re talking about 30 million people, with an infrastructure that needs to be almost re-done,” Araji said. “Not very many countries have that potential.” But while the Government’s increasing spending power as a result of rising oil revenues ostensibly offers an opportunity for profits, many worry that such a factor is a double-edged sword. Those same revenues, coupled with upcoming elections and an alleged lack of appreciation of investors’ concerns, have sparked concerns that Iraqi leaders do not have the stomach for the reforms required. “As long as oil continues to flow and the money keeps coming into the budget, there is no incentive whatsoever for anything to happen,” said one diplomat. “Everything they need to do requires political will. That’s a problem.” Source: Zawya
Abu Dhabi’s new port eyes 20% traffic growth in 2013
Changes to visit visas in the UAE
Businessmen, property investors and cruise passengers will now be eligible for multiple entry visas following three years of discussions. This means that non-resident businessmen will be able to attend several meetings during the course of a couple of days, fly to another country and return to the UAE. This move has been taken to support the long term strategy of stimulating growth and development in the traditionally strong tourist sector.
Abu Dhabi’s new Khalifa port expects a 20% lift in the amount of container traffic it handles next year as the Emirate’s nearby industrial park continues to expand, the Chief Executive of the port’s operator said. The dockyard, located half way between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, started operations in September and since then
more than 80% of the container traffic has been transferred from Abu Dhabi’s older port, Mina Zayed. The port at Taweelah, which has a capacity of up to of 2.5 million TEUs, (twenty foot equivalent units), is expected to handle 800,000 TEUs this year, and 1 million TEUs in 2013, Mr. Douglas said. Zawya Dow Jones
Visa Amnesty for Illegal Employees
Employing illegal workers could see UAE companies and sponsors face a dh100,000 fine, but from 4th December 2012 to 3rd February 2013, a two month visa amnesty has been declared, which will allow illegal residents the window of opportunity to either leave the country without penalty, or regularise their visas. Under the 2007 Federal Decree Law, any company caught employing illegal workers will have a dh50,000 fine imposed on the first offence, rising to dh100,000 per worker thereafter. If the owner of the company is an expatriate, it is likely that they will be deported and banned from entering the country for life, whilst an Emirati company owner is likely to be jailed for a minimum of 6 months. Illegal residents have been encouraged to come forward to take advantage of the amnesty as soon as possible, as there will be no extension or exception for those who miss the February 3rd deadline. The amnesty covers only those who have overstayed their visas. People who have infiltrated the UAE will continue to be viewed as criminals. “Illegal residents who have overstayed their visas can visit Residency Departments across the UAE to obtain out passes and leave the country without penalties” said Major General Nasser Awadi Al Menhali, Assistant Undersecretary for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs. “Or they can regularise their visas, after a payment of fines, between December 4th and February 3rd.”
Major General Al Menhali explained that a resident who has overstayed their visa, but comes forward with both their passport and an air ticket, can leave the country without being fined. Passports held in cases where the individual has absconded, must also be handed over to their owner. People who have overstayed their visas will have to pay all fines that have been accumulated. He also warned that those who do not take advantage of this amnesty would feel the full force of the Law from 3rd February 2013. All expatriate employees who wish to work in the UAE must be employed by a licensed company as well as personally holding an Entry Permit for employment purposes, a Labour Card and a Residence Visa. This is the fourth amnesty that has been declared within the UAE. In 2007, a total of 341,958 took advantage of that amnesty, with an estimated 95,000 legalising their status and the remaining overstayers leaving the UAE. Residency Departments throughout the UAE have been organising awareness campaigns and press briefings in order to educate the public and to convince illegal residents to take advantage of this option. For more information, please visit the Department for Naturalisation and Residency directly next to Al Jafiliya metro station.
Saudi hospitality sector booming There has been huge growth witnessed in the hospitality sector in Saudi, with new hotels, and renovations of existing hotels, now in demand. The hospitality growth has been triggered by the increase in domestic as well as religious travel. A substantial 2.8 million more visitors travelled in 2012 compared 2010. This has meant significant potential with existing hotel
chains looking to expand, renovate or even build new hotels. A Venture Middle East report regarding interior contracting and the fit-out market states that hotel projects to be completed in the GCC will involve an interior spend of $1.65 million, with Saudi Arabia’s interior and fit-out sector growing twice as fast as that of the UAE.
Tehran halts all imports of ‘luxury’ goods amid currency fears Iran has banned the import of more than 2,000 luxury items that it deems can be manufactured within it’s borders. This freeze on items is to address a shortage of foreign currency, caused by Western sanctions. Lists published by various media, are only partial at this stage. However the products include various brands of cosmetics, confectionary, clothing and jewellery. It also includes various construction materials, cars, mobile phones and computers. The Iranian Government state that this could save $4billion a year. If it is found that some commodities, such as
computers and mobile phones cannot be sourced locally, Iran will reopen lines of imports. Iran is struggling against what it has been calling an ‘economic war’ which are the trading sanctions imposed by the West. These, coupled with the punitive measures targeting its oil revenues and access to the global financial markets, have created a shortage of foreign currency in Iran and sent inflation soaring. Consumer products, including those that are on in the ‘luxury’ list, account for 28% of the total imports in the last six month period.
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‘Techworking’- Using LinkedIn Networking has always been about making new contacts and getting your name around. Social media is a game changer and here, we look at 20 creative Surviving Beyond Start Up Stage If you’ve recently launched your ways of using LinkedIn to business, you’ll know how much it enhance your business profile. can take over your life. Use these Wellbeing tips to project ahead and get Managing Stress at Work past your first hurdles. Maybe you feel overwhelmed at work sometimes? Here we Money give you some new techniques Credit Management to help manage your stress and Continuing our ‘Financial workload going into 2013. Mastery’ series, we’re looking at smart management of your Health and Wellbeing at Work credit structures. Don’t miss this Here we look at the Laws one! and statutes regarding your obligations as an employer to People the safety and wellbeing of your Why Talent Walks Out staff at work. Talented staff can give your business a big advantage over competitors. Use the HR expertise The Hub Air & Share in this article to make sure you Take a look at the ‘Air & Share’ hang on to your best people. column to the left and...get involved! Share your views and Building Your Knowledge Bank we’ll print the best comments. Here we address the tricky issue of extracting and ‘banking’ the Legal Insights knowledge, experience and A new series looking at the expertise of key personnel. points of Business, Contract and Labour Laws that affect your Tech business. The Cyber Crime Wave Symantec reveal the alarming facts, figures and statistics around
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