Aug - Sept 2012
Gives your business an unfair advantage
Easy SME banking Dr. Adnan Chilwan, deputy CEO, Dubai Islamic Bank, on Al Islami Business Online service - Page 30
Demystifying banking Jargon you’ve never understood explained - Page 52
‘Competition breeds success’ Karim Aly, co-founder, Ecobility, on his achievements in the sustainability industry - Page 18
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Contents August-September 2012
30 Rare & Fabulous
We have picked the choicest lifestyle products and destinations for you.
Entrepreneurship runs in my bloodâ€™ What separates family businesses from other organisations? Farah Anwar Vahedna recounts her experiences.
Competition breeds success
Karim Aly, co-founder of Ecobility, conceptualises and incubates businesses in the sustainability sector. How challenging is this?
Creative brands rewarded
What has been happening in the business battleground? Updates that you might have missed.
Results of the SME Brand Creativity contest held recently.
Invest in just a click
An innovative online investment marketplace for small businesses.
Transforming business banking
Dr. Adnan Chilwan, deputy CEO, Dubai Islamic Bank, was ISMEâ€™s latest target who spoke on the Al Islami Business Online service that was recently launched for SMEs.
The art of valuing your business John Lincoln gives valuable guiding principles on estimating the worth of a business.
Sales: Skill or talent?
Zed Ayesh gives some thought to this oft-repeated question and suggests ways of improving the sales process.
The DNA of a healthy workplace Carole Spiers gives SME owners a guide to getting the best results from their workforce.
The sales objection inoculators
Would a testimonial make a difference in your business? Phil Bedford tells you, it will.
Owning property offshore
Nita Maru explains how offshore structures can safeguard assets and avoid lengthy probate proceedings.
Managing the management of change V. Ramkumar points out the various levels of change
management across an organisation.
How can SMEs get on the IPO bandwagon? Craig Hewitt explains how and why.
Change is afoot!
An IPO to meet f inancing needs
Our new columnist Harshit H. Jain throws light on confusing banking jargon.
How to find gold in your off ice
Michael Tolan advises business leaders about the value of nurturing and encouraging their teams to break barriers in the business world.
Stamp out negativity fast!
The power of positive thinking, explained by Anesh Jagtiani.
Rupert Connor and Richard Taylor ponder on the ramifications of the upcoming changes in gratuity schemes for businesses.
83 Women entrepreneurs ISME zooms in on Helen Kay, owner of Helen Kay Gifts.
Be a Connector
Making SEO Olympics-worthy
James Reynolds outlines strategies for businesses that are search-friendly.
Letâ€™s get social
Have a question about social media? Farrukh Naeem answers all your queries.
Service provider network
A unique glimpse of the ISME service providers.
Important business events across the globe.
Summing up: Get bigger with banking
There would be hardly any examples of companies making it big without bank funding, Utpal Bhattacharya points out.
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Editor’s Note T
he holy month of Ramadan gave us some time to stop and look back at our achievements in the past one year, especially as to how we were able to engage the community that we serve through our publication. Being the month of giving, we also organised an Iftar, which was well received by our readers and well wishers.
We spoke to many business owners to assess their feel of the market during the month. We found that there was no dearth of optimism and positivity, which is in line with the findings of the latest survey conducted by the Dubai Department of Economic Development that showed a positive spirit among business owners and a sense of interest in the surrounding business environment. In fact, we do see work in construction projects once more, and the rise of confidence among owners of real estate companies. Those real estate developers that we spoke to recently are thankful that they are still around in business; they also firmly believe that the dark days are behind us. There is no looking back now, they assure us. For the fourth quarter of the year, Intelligent SME magazine has planned a few important initiatives, keeping into context the positive spirit that we now see in the business community that we serve. Following the success of our Knowledge Series talks, we’re now ready to host a much larger event that will give business owners and decision makers insights into the minds of some of the UAE’s most successful business icons. The event will endeavour to be a platform of learning for those aspiring to be super successful. Another important event set to take place in September is the Middle East SME Forum. We do hope and wish that as business owners you will make use of these opportunities to network and generate more leads for your businesses. As always, write to us, send in your responses and ideas. Sandhya Divakaran Disclaimer: SPI Publishing has endeavoured to bring out a publication that is reliable and informative. This is true to the best of our knowledge. The opinions presented are those of individual writers and not necessarily endorsed by SPI Publishing. The content in this magazine is protected by copyright law and is copyright to SPI Publishing unless credited otherwise, and may not be copied, reproduced or republished for any commercial purpose or financial gain.
Chief Executive Officer & Publisher Shantanu A.P Account Director Vijay G. Editor Sandhya Divakaran Consulting Editor Utpal Bhattacharya Expert Contributors Anesh Jagtiani Carole Spiers Craig Hewitt Farah Anwar Farrukh Naeem Harshit H. Jain James Reynold John Lincoln Michael J. Tolan Nita Maru Phil Bedford Richard Taylor Rupert Connor Shraddha Barot Amariei V. Ramkumar Zed Ayesh Art Director Aneesh Varghese Photographer Arzai Zafar Editorial Enquiries & Contributions Tel: 04-2659704, 04-2650312 Fax: 04-2690566 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Enquiries Tel: 04-2659704, 04-2650312 E-mail: email@example.com Subscription Enquiries Tel: 04-2659704, 04-2650312 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Response Executive Evelyn V. Bernasol SPI Publishing P.O. Box: 89735, Dubai, UAE Tel: 04-2659704, 04-2650312 Fax: 04-2690566, 04-2651708 E-mail: email@example.com
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Timeless collection 59
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Intelligent SME 260x190mm-E.indd 1
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“Entrepreneurship runs in my blood” Farah Anwar Vahedna gives her perspective of working in a family business.
The passion and fervor that all first time entrepreneurs face is more intense in family businesses with everyone pitching in and rolling up their sleeves to do the needful. 16
grew up in a family business environment. When at the age of six, kids around me were making trips to the playground, I spent weekends in the late 80’s standing behind the sales counter helping the sales staff write out bills on double carbon-copy books. At 13, when my friends spent Christmas break hanging out at the brand new cool spot of the 90’s, Deira City Centre, I was helping my father sign cheques as he called them out to me. At 16 when everyone was off at summer camp, I was helping with the inventory count for the close of the fiscal year. Growing up in a family business I remember different parts of my childhood having been linked to milestones in the business’ history - I got my braces during the Russian boom of the 90s, took figure skating lessons during the depressive years of the Gulf War and the subsequent GCC boom. In fact, you can say that entrepreneurship runs in my blood. My siblings and I got into business with a brand new company; my dad did the same with his siblings as did my grandfather before him. This serial entrepreneurship has run in my family for generations. As a business owner, I can go on about the challenges of entrepreneurship - already the odds are against one as 80-90 per cent of new companies fail in the first five years. Adding family to the equation makes things more interesting and more challenging. The wealth creation vehicle in all cases is the family itself and not the firm. No place can vouch for this better than the UAE where more than 80 per cent of successful home-grown companies are family businesses. Why is this so? One thing that separates family businesses from nonfamily businesses is the desperate need
Farah is the managing partner of Ashraf Electronics with experience as a finance professional at a prominent multinational, International Investment bank and Private equity house. email@example.com
to succeed. Similar upbringing and the investment of shared family wealth often ensures that all stakeholders have a single-minded purpose to see the business succeed at all costs. This, of course, means that the pressure to succeed is twice as high with the emotional investment in the business exceeding the monetary investment. Because of this most family businesses tend to be risk averse, choosing instead to opt for the less risky alternative. Risk taking is a major issue as so much more is at stake. Emotional assets are also thrown into the equation making business decisions not only a cognitive exercise, but also a sensitive process. The passion and fervor that all first time entrepreneurs face is more intense in family businesses with everyone pitching in and rolling up their sleeves to do the needful. There is a high level of support with family members often opting to take key management roles. In the case of a fresh enterprise, the enthusiasm trickles into every aspect of domestic life. There is barely a meal that we have together, that doesn’t involve some talk of the business. Each one of these meals is an inspired experience as each member brings their stories from the day to the family dinner table. Issues are debriefed, staff is discussed, competition is evaluated and anecdotes are chuckled over. This makes for a very cohesive management
team and some very special bonding time. Another way in which family businesses tend to be different is in the fact that corporate values are often an extension of the family’s values. The business is an extension of the family’s consciousness as staff and customers get woven into the fabric of our extended family. Many of our long standing customers have attended family weddings, funerals and even graduations. The enterprise lives and breathes its corporate values rather than having empty words on a company prospectus. Due to the fact that there is so much invested in the business from all quarters, everyone including the family cat has an opinion on how things should be done. Regardless of whose name is ultimately on the signing papers, each member is consulted and most decisions tend to be unanimous. While this gives us the added benefit of approaching a problem from different angles, decision making is a heated affair that gives everyone an opportunity to flex their mental muscles. It’s no surprise then that almost all decision making is made at the dinner table rather than in the board room. Needless to say, this is an excellent training ground for the young. This brings me to one of the main issues plaguing multi-generational family businesses-direction. Although there is a shared goal to see the business succeed, opinions on how to get there vary greatly. Once new family businesses are established entities, leadership succession and long term growth become major issues. I have seen many scions of successful
businesses families who have grown up knowing that they will inherit the family business. In some cases the spirit of entrepreneurship is kindled very early in life, in others it can lead to complacency and a sense of entitlement knowing that at some day a portion of daddy’s business will, by default, come to the next generation. This sense of entitlement is the enemy and, in many cases, the beginning of the end because the hard work and sweat put into making the business successful is underestimated. Perhaps this is why the 30 per cent of family businesses that do end up surviving more than two generations, either end up staying the same size or contracting but rarely growing. Watching the progression of family enterprises has made me very aware of the vision required to incorporate the needs of growing families. The business plan needs to make provisions for offshoots and strategic spin-offs as a newer generation enters the business. Business disputes need to be managed as such preventing them from seeping into family life. This can be done with organised corporate structure, roles and accountability, and a move away from the organic entrepreneurship model. I have had the good fortune to work for large multinationals while benefiting from the experience of generations of entrepreneurs. We’ve seen the business evolve and we’ve evolved with it learning to cherish all the varied opinions, appreciate the wisdom of an older generation, while enjoying the zeal of the newer one. We’ve accepted our inherent risk aversion and have learnt to push the boundaries. While challenges in entrepreneurship are a given, the lessons are valuable life lessons. What better way to enjoy this education than with your family by your side. 17
Meet the CEO
“Competition breeds success” Intelligent SME spoke to Karim Aly, entrepreneur and co-founder of Ecobility, on entrepreneurship in the sustainability industry. ISME: Please explain the operations of your company.
KA: In essence, Ecobility itself is not a business, but rather a platform, that builds businesses. Ecobility was designed as an incubator to commercialise businesses in the clean technology and sustainability space. We identify opportunities based on the regional sustainability challenges and conceptualise innovative, clean technology businesses that fill the gaps and help address those challenges. ISME: How did Ecobility come into being? KA: My business partner and I are
both originally from the Middle East but were raised abroad, in the UK and Canada respectively. From a very young age, we were taught about the importance of sustainability recycling, energy efficiency and water conservation - the whole package. However, when we moved back to the Middle East as adults, we both realised that the awareness level with respect to sustainability was limited and so were the solutions available in the market. We both shared a very similar line of thinking and started to question why that was the case given the UAE’s
rapid advancement and growth in all other areas. It seemed that the concept of sustainability simply fell through the cracks along the way. Coming from a financial services background, we immediately identified this as an attractive opportunity that would deliver more than just financial returns but social returns as well. From there we began developing the concept and articulating the plan of action, the rest is pretty much history.
ISME: Can you name some
of the projects you have incubated?
KA: One of the first businesses we incubated was Emirates Biodiesel in 2008. It was the first commercial scale bio-diesel production facility in the GCC. The goal behind this project was to develop an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional liquid fuel (i.e. Diesel). We’ve also developed the region’s first fully integrated LED lighting firm; ILLUME Lighting. It is a cutting edge provider of energy efficient lighting solutions in the MENA region which has built up one of the
largest market shares in the UAE. More recently, we introduced Ecodoc, the region’s first recycled paper brand, which has since become the paper of choice for the likes of Emirates Airlines and National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
ISME: How easy was it to set operations and what was the response you received in the beginning? KA: Setting up the
company consumed a lot of time and paper; it was cumbersome but manageable. In terms of initial market response, it was certainly a bit overwhelming. When we opened our doors and introduced our innovative solutions to the
Meet the CEO market, we literally had no clients. Even the ones that were aware of technology and understood it didn’t have it very high on their agendas at the time. It was definitely a struggle psychologically, particularly when we had just left our stable jobs to set this company up. We’re now five years old and it’s been an exciting journey. We’ve certainly grown a lot since then with about 300 clients today.
ISME: How did you overcome this challenge?
KA: Perseverance is the key. We first
had to understand that we couldn’t realistically expect to win every pitch we made; losing many along the way was just part of the process. When we came to terms with that notion and took the emotion out of it, our perspective changed and it became a numbers game. If our success rate is securing one client for every 10 pitches made, then we had to be knocking on doors all day long to secure just a handful of clients. We couldn’t wait for the market to independently recognise their need for our solutions - we had to go out there and create that need ourselves. Another challenge that we face during the sales cycle is that this market has historically been an “agency market” where representing an established company and being able to leverage their “global brand” was the norm. Many times, our greatest challenge is in trying to persuade clients to choose to work with us, rather than the international “Brand X.”
ISME: How do you deal with the competition?
KA: Well, this is an especially challenging issue for us given our technology-centric industry. Clients are often apprehensive to work with an SME due to the misguided belief that an SME’s products or services are inferior compared with the international players. This mindset is quite common and really very difficult to change. As a result, we have learned to accept this as a reality of business
There is no one secret formula to success – so don’t wait until you find it. Entrepreneurship is full of unknowns; hence your best allies are adaptability and perseverance.
and focus our efforts on building a strong track record by leveraging the things that we do better, such as client engagement, for example. We take a consultative approach, which our clients appreciate; it’s entirely different from the typical client/vendor relationship dynamic. Having said that, I for one, welcome competition. Fierce competition spawns many benefits to an industry such as rapid innovation and cost efficiencies through economies of scale. I’m a big believer that competition breeds success and as a result, I embrace it.
ISME: Why did you choose Dubai as your centre of operations?
KA: During the planning stage, we identified Dubai as a perfect platform within the region for a firm like ours. It also helped that we started off as employees working in Dubai and as such, became quite familiar with the market and developed a strong network of relationships. Additionally, the UAE is widely recognised across the region as an early adopter and is considered a benchmark for many of the neighboring markets. This provided us with clear advantages for our future expansion plans. Dubai also offers a level of business infrastructure and sophistication, which was difficult to find elsewhere in the region. ISME: What would you consider as a professional achievement ? KA: Naturally, being ranked the
number two SME in Dubai is an enormous acknowledgement. If I was to pinpoint our biggest achievement to date, it would be the fact that we have survived the turbulence over the last few years and are now starting to thrive. They say that about 90 per cent of start-ups fail within their first 48 months. We set up Ecobility in 2008, just before the start of an economic downturn and in an industry which was virtually non-existent - essentially a perfect formula for disaster. To have overcome these obstacles and successfully build a business that demonstrates strong growth and becomes ranked as one of the top SMEs is, in my eyes, our biggest achievement.
ISME: What is your opinion of the clean technology industry?
KA: The industry is rapidly evolving. Five years ago, there was not much dialogue happening in the region around renewable energy, energy efficiency or clean technology in general. Today, however, every major publication regularly includes clean technology coverage - be it related to renewables, carbon or energy efficiency. That is a clear testimony to how our level of awareness has drastically increased over the last few years. Moreover, this increased awareness has led to broader and faster adoption of clean technologies. I expect to see these trends continue, but I hope to witness one fundamental shift: that the market starts to recognise SMEs as legitimate players. The country’s leadership has done an incredible job in shining the spotlight on entrepreneurship and innovation. ISME: What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
KA: That there is no one secret formula to success - so don’t wait until you find it. Entrepreneurship is full of unknowns; hence your best allies are adaptability and perseverance. Finally, be prepared to encounter failure many times along the way - don’t be daunted, it’s a necessary part of the journey. 19
UAE gets lion’s share of GCC construction projects
uilding projects worth over US$57.8bn were awarded to contractors in 2011 across all building sectors (residential, commercial, hospitality and retail), with the sector likely to increase by 13 per cent to US$65.5bn by the end of 2012, according to new research by Ventures ME. In 2011, construction projects to the value of US$46.52bn were completed in the GCC, a figure expected to increase dramatically, up
71 per cent to US$79.75bn in 2012. The research stated that the UAE continues to garner the largest share of the total GCC building construction market- accounting for almost half (48 per cent), with Saudi Arabia taking a further third (33 per cent) followed by Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. The value of commercial real estate projects is set to almost double in 2012 to US$15.3bn from US$7.7bn in 2011, as the GCC continues to be a leading luxury destination for retailers.
Currently four of the six GCC countries rank among the top 20 global retail destinations, according to the Global Retail Development Index. The hotel and hospitality sector will also witness enormous growth throughout 2012 with project values set to triple to US$7.3bn, up from US$2.7bn in 2011. This growth is a direct result of the increased demand for hotel space in the GCC where room revenues are set to reach US$22bn in 2012.
DIB announces first half 2012 net profit of AED555m
Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, chairman, Dubai Islamic Bank.
ubai Islamic Bank announced its financial results for the first half of the year ending June 30, 2012. Net profit for the first half of 2012 reached AED555 million, up from AED552 million in the same period of 2011. For the second quarter of 2012, net profit reached AED310 million, compared to AED245 million for the first quarter of 2012, an increase of 27 per cent. Net revenue for the first half of 2012 increased to AED1,826 million from AED1,801 million in the same period of 2011, an increase of 1.4 per cent. “DIB has been able to achieve sustained profitability while continuing to strengthen its balance sheet. Assisted by a prudent strategy of diversifying our funding sources, DIB remains highly liquid and superbly placed to support the financing needs of the UAE, its economy and its people. Moreover, our recent Sukuk, which was four times oversubscribed, served to underscore investor confidence in the DIB business model,” said Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, director-general, Ruler’s Court of Dubai and chairman of Dubai Islamic Bank.
50% Of 1 bn SME fund allocated in 3 months: HSBC ver half of an AED1 billion fund aimed at SMEs has been allocated just three months after its launch, according to HSBC Bank Middle East. The bank has also stated that 57 per cent of the HSBC International Trade SME Fund has been awarded to UAE businesses since it was announced on 15 May 2012. Commenting on progress, Rana Al Emam, head of Business Banking, HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, UAE said: “We are very excited to
announce that over AED570 million of the International Trade SME Fund has been allocated. Focusing the Fund on businesses with cross border trading requirements is vital given the growing number of businesses positioning themselves to take advantage of international trading corridors to grow and succeed.” 88 per cent of the Fund allocated to date has been awarded to businesses seeking to trade internationally. Trade continues to be a strong area of focus for HSBC both regionally and globally.
A trade bank by origin, HSBC believes that it can continue to add value to this segment through leveraging this strength, its global footprint and extensive expertise. According to the breakdown so far, 69 per cent of the Fund allocated so far has gone to customers that did not previously borrow from HSBC, while the remaining applicants are from HSBC’s existing customer base. In addition, 30 per cent of the total Fund has also been allocated to Emirati owned businesses, added Al Emam.
DED issues 1,298 licences in June 2012
Premises of the Dubai Department of Economic Development at Business Village, Dubai.
he Dubai Department of Economic Development issued 1,298 new trade licences during June 2012, indicating a growing
interest in commercial and professional activities among businessmen and investors in Dubai. Commercial licences accounted for 72 per cent of
the total licences issued, followed by professional (25 per cent), industrial (one per cent) and tourism (two per cent). The month of June also saw 4,998 licences being amended while 7,647 licences were renewed. The total number of business registration and licensing (BRL) transactions reached 48,053, compared to 43,631 in June 2011, an increase of 10 per cent. The total number of commercial activities licensed in June 2012 was 3453, with general trade leading the list of the top 10 licensed activities (146 licences) followed by dyes and paints (112 licences); tiling of floors and walls (102); readymade garments (101); perfumes and cosmetics (101); carpentry and flooring (99); sanitary extensions and wares (98); installation of suspended ceilings and light partitions (98); installation of air conditioning systems, ventilation and air purification (95) and textiles and fabrics (83).
Consumer confidence robust during Q2 2012
verall consumer confidence in Dubai remained robust during the second quarter of 2012, driven largely by a positive outlook on personal finance and strong optimism on job prospects. A quarterly consumer confidence index (CCI) published by the Department of Economic Development indicated that Dubai and its economy continues to invoke positive sentiment and trust among investors with CCI remaining higher than average level of 122 percentage points during April-June 2012. Within the private sector 71 per cent of employees are optimistic about job prospects and 78 per cent are positive about their personal finance.
Perceptions on the state of economy also showed a clear improvement during the second quarter of 2012 with 72 per cent of the consumers expressing positive outlook for the next 12 months. However, the state of economy continues to be the biggest consumer concern, with political stability in the Arab world and job security being the other major concerns in that order. â€œThe CCI is the result of quarterly consumer confidence surveys conducted among consumers to gauge their perceptions on local job prospects, personal finances and the suitability of making purchases, all over the next 12 months. The initiative aims to evaluate consumer impressions on
Omar Bushahab, CEO, Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division, DED.
the state of the economy and the key drivers of consumer behaviour,â€? said Omar Bushahab, CEO, Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division, DED. 21
Just Falafel enters Qatar, Lebanon markets
Fadi Malas, CEO, Just Falafel
UAE start-up business, Just Falafel has established an extensive network of store locations across the UAE and Jordan and is now opening up in the Qatar and Lebanon markets. “Our goal for 2012 is to open one store a week globally, and to date, we have delivered on this objective. Lebanon and Qatar are key growth markets for the Just Falafel brand and we are confident that our outlets there will exceed expectations, once residents experience our fresh, healthy and globally-seasoned approach to this traditionally Middle Eastern delicacy. We’re expecting 10 stores to open in Lebanon and Qatar, alone, in the next 12 months,” said Fadi Malas, CEO, Just Falafel. The first Just Falafel outlet opened in Abu Dhabi, UAE in 2007. With franchise rights for more than 300 additional branches, Just Falafel is fast becoming the leading vegetarian fast-food chain in the Middle East.
Middle East luxury market to grow 15 pc
Cyrille Fabre, partner, Bain & Company
lobal luxury goods sales are defying initial concerns over Eurozone turmoil and fears of a cool down in emerging markets, and will exceed €200 billion in 2012; according to Bain & Company, in its Luxury Goods Worldwide Market study, which was launched recently. Bain further stated that the Middle East luxury market will grow by 15 per cent in 2012, leading the strong performance of the global luxury market. Cyrille Fabre, Bain & Company partner who leads the Retail & Consumer Products practice for the Middle East, said: “The Middle East remains a crucial component in the sustained growth of the global luxury market. The region has opened exciting
growth possibilities for key industry players and continues to be a major destination for a wide range of luxury brands. Bain’s latest study reaffirms the robust shape of the global luxury market and likewise underlines the huge growth potential of the Middle East region.” “Brands must develop strategies with much wider reach than ever before,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, a Bain partner in Milan and lead author of the study. “The lessons they learned in earlier emerging markets will help, but they now must manage even broader diversity of consumer preferences, and more variations in their model of how to take products to market,” she added.
Dubai SME concludes seminars on business management skills
ubai SME, the agency of DED mandated to develop the SME sector, successfully conducted three seminars recently to train SME owners and entrepreneurs in strategic business management skills and building customer-focused organisations. Dubai SME used one of the seminars to emphasise the power of non-verbal communication led by Dr. Mutasem Al Titi, a leading non-verbal communication expert in the Middle
East. The seminar showed how the right body language can help communicate with confidence and conviction in a negotiation. The power of excellent customer service was the focus of the second seminar, led by Anas Abu-Hamam, managing director and co-founder of project management and consultancy firm Platinum CPD. The seminar drew an outstanding response from the SME community, indicating a high level of interest among them in integrating
customer service as a key competency. The third seminar was aimed to encourage entrepreneurs to apply innovative project management techniques for improved efficiency, problem solving and resource utilisation. Omran Zbeida, corporate trainer and certified programme development director led the seminar, presenting proven ways to plan and manage successful projects and the impact of such strategies on business expansion and bottom lines.
Thinking entrepreneurial: Third Middle East SME Forum 2012
fter the success of two editions of SME forums in Abu Dhabi and Qatar, the third Middle East SME Forum 2012 will take place on September 17- 18, 2012 in Abu Dhabi. SMEs play a significant role in growing, diversifying and strengthening a country’s economic base. They create employment, enhance competitiveness, and contribute positively to socio-economic indicators, such as GDP growth and the number of middle-income households in an economy. The third Middle East SME Forum 2012 will bring forth industry leaders to share their successful experiences and address the audience with the updated information, policies and SME supported ventures. Best practices in developing a thriving SME culture will be discussed by Alexandar Williams, Director, Strategy and Policy, Dubai SME. The topic will focus on inculcating and developing entrepreneurship qualities at an early age to understand and identify potential
business ideas and cope with challenges that may intervene. To boost SME development across the region a joint collaboration of governing entities and the private sector is crucial, thus the need of institutionalising a dedicated government agency to champion SME development with a focused, executable SME development plan will also be addressed. Dr. Adeeb Mahmoud Al Afeefi, director of foreign trade and export support, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, will explain how exports can contribute to a company‘s and nation’s growth by addressing the audience with his topic - Exports and Re-Export Trade. Over 21 presentations will be enriched by six panel discussions in just two days of the event. Presentations, discussions and case studies will touch the SME ecosystem in the Middle East environment, challenges and opportunities towards business start ups and also best practices and successful stories in the region’s SME sector. Ahsan Ali, director, credit and operations, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise
Development and Abdullah Al Jufaili, general manager, SHARAKAH Fund for Development of Youth Projects (S.A.O.C), will discuss and share their knowledge and experience on the panel discussion titled ‘Access to Finance and Capital Management is a Challenge for SMEs’. This panel discussion session is an open discussion where each panel member will stress on the challenges SMEs still face in securing credit finance to their business. A panel discussion titled ‘Ongoing Government and Private Sector Initiatives towards SME Development’ will brainstorm ideas on coaching, resource gathering and other amenities required to ensure sustainability and profitability across all SMEs. This session will analyse the current SME situation in the Middle East and evaluate methods of sustainability through profit generation in the future times. Essam Disi, senior manager, Policy Formulation, Strategy and Policy Department at Dubai SME; Najla Al Midfa, senior manager, Entrepreneurship Development at Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; and Fahad A. Al-Semari, managing director, Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Centre Company are the featured panelists who will be featuring in this discussion. For more details log on to www. fleminggulf.com/3rdSMEForum.
The third Middle East SME Forum 2012 will bring forth industry leaders to share their successful experiences and address the audience with the updated information, policies and SME supported ventures. 23
Tee off and network!
Dubai Golf in collaboration with Dubai SME launches ‘The Gulf Finance SME Golf Cup’, a corporate team golf event.
ubai Golf in collaboration with Dubai SME, the agency of the Dubai Department of Economic Development, mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise sector, has announced the launch of ‘The Gulf Finance SME Golf Cup’, a corporate team golf event sponsored by Gulf Finance, specifically aimed at the SME market. The event will provide SMEs with a unique platform to network with other SMEs within Dubai, offering participants the opportunity to engage with potential buyers and suppliers and expand the profile and awareness of their company. Commencing in November, the qualifying rounds of this new event will take place on the stunning championship Faldo Course at the Emirates Golf Club. The course combines a stunning visual design with the nuances and challenges of any championship course, providing golfers an exceptionally enjoyable and challenging golfing experience. There 24
Commencing in November, the qualifying rounds of this new event will take place on the stunning championship Faldo Course at the Emirates Golf Club. are a total of four qualifying rounds planned; leading to a grand final, which will take place on The Majlis course home of the Dubai Desert Classic - in April 2013. The winning teams will compete against each other to win the tournament trophy and the coveted title of ‘The inaugural Gulf Finance SME Golf Cup Champions’. Christopher May, general manager, Dubai Golf stated: “This is a fantastic event for Dubai which provides golf as a platform to bring together a diverse group of business people from the SME sector. We are very excited about this
year’s launch event at Emirates Golf Club and are confident that the event will continue to grow over the years and help facilitate strong and mutually beneficial relationships.” Abdul Baset Al Janahi, chief executive officer of Dubai SME added: “We are delighted to partner with Dubai Golf to organise this tournament for SMEs in Dubai. We always encourage new platforms for business networking, and would like to see Dubai’s SMEs continue to do business and have the best exposure possible among their peers and partners.” Gulf Finance chief executive officer, Edward Allely said: “As a lender with a tremendous amount of confidence in the SME sector, we naturally relished the opportunity to collaborate with Dubai Golf to host this inaugural SME Golf Cup. The event will play a pivotal role in connecting SMEs and encouraging a sense of community - significant factors given the abundance of small businesses with huge growth potential within the UAE.” SMEs are being invited to participate in the event by entering a team of four players including a minimum of two players from their company. Each team of four selects two qualifying rounds and their aggregate score for both qualifying rounds will contribute to their total score with the top 24 teams qualifying for the Grand Final. Those SMEs that are registered with Dubai SME will automatically be able to avail of a preferred rate of entry. The event is also supported by Intelligent SME as the official magazine and a number of additional event partners are expected to further come on board in support of the bespoke golf event.
The Gulf Finance SME Cup at Emirates Golf Club
Entries for the inaugural Gulf Finance SME Golf Cup are now open. Dubaiâ€™s SMEs are invited to enter this exciting corporate team golf event taking place over the coming months at Emirates Golf Club, offering SME companies a unique platform to establish new business opportunities. Corporate teams of four, compromising of a minimum of two employees, select two of the four qualifying rounds to try and secure a place in the Grand Final, where the top 24 teams based on the aggregate total of the two qualifying rounds will compete. Each team member must have a valid handicap. Fixture Qualifying Round One Qualifying Round Two Qualifying Round Three Qualifying Round Four Grand Final
Location Faldo Course Faldo Course Faldo Course Faldo Course Majlis Course
Date Monday 19th November 2012 Monday 17th December 2012 Monday 14th January 2013 Monday 18th February 2013 Thursday 18th April 2013
Time 1pm shotgun 1pm shotgun 1pm shotgun 1pm shotgun 1pm shotgun
Tournament Fees AED 3,500* per team of four and AED 3,200* for companies registered with Dubai SME *entry fees include two qualifying rounds (eight green fees), four team shirts, dinner buffet on the Clubhouse terrace at both qualifying rounds as well as four places at the Gala Dinner regardless of qualification. For further information and to enter your team, please email JDanby@dubaigolf.com Official Magazine Title Sponsor
in collaboration with
Out and About
Creative brands rewarded
Ethics Plus, Helen Kay Gifts, SRS International and Ashraf Electronics won accolades at the Brand Creativity contest. grand ceremony was held in honour of the winners of the ‘Brand Creativity’ contest organised recently by SME Connect and Business Village. Held at Business Village, the event saw winners Ethics Plus, Helen Kay Gifts and SRS International walk away with gifts worth AED105,000 sponsored by TAG Brands, Cactix, Quantum Auditing, and theWholeThing. Strategy The theme of the event was to portray participating companies’ brands in the most creative manner. The contest ran from June 5, 2012 to July 9, 2012 and was organised for SMEs in Dubai. The competition had a three-
pronged strategy: firstly, to create awareness on Business Village and its various facilities for entrepreneurs and SME Connect, an interactive forum to nurture businesses; to facilitate lines of communication between the numerous SMEs linked through Dubai SME and SME Connect; and to create publicity for participating companies and the key sponsors. The first prize was won by Ethics Plus, a public accountants firm. The award was an identity creation package worth AED65,000 sponsored by TAGbrands. A.R Ramachandran, managing partner of the firm received the award. “The Dubai government has been very supportive of SMEs and this contest is one of the initiatives that will enhance the scalability of businesses
within this sector. We have many more such initiatives planned and will be executing these in the future,” said Rafat Wahbeh, senior manager, Community Development, Business Village, who was also present at the event. The second prize was won by Helen Kay Gifts, a jewellery sales and design store in Jumeirah. The award consisted of a sales plan development package worth AED18,400, sponsored by theWholeThing. The owner of the store, Helen Kay said: “I took up this initiative for my children, to show them that perseverance is the key to success. I would like to thank Gemma Solutions for their support.” The third prize was won by SRS International, a media, marketing and events company. The award was
Winners of the Brand Creativity contest held by SME Connect and Business Village, sponsored by Cactix, the WholeThing, TAGBrands, and Quantum Auditing.
Out and About
A.R Ramachandran, managing partner of Ethics Plus receves the first prize in the Brand Creativity contest from Rafat Wahbeh, senior manager- Community Development, Business Village, The award was an identity creation package worth AED65,000.
received by Sahel K Ataie, chairman of the company, and consisted of auditing services for a year worth AED25,000 sponsored by Quantum Auditing. He thanked Business Village and Dubai SME for organising this initiative. “Thanks to the organisers, SMEs like us have been fortunate in receiving services that will help the business. We chose the auditing package which is a strategic move, and it will help further our efforts,” noted Hassanain Anver, director of sales and marketing, SRS International. The winner of the social media award worth AED15000 was Ashraf Electronics Trading LLC. Farah Anwar received the award sponsored by Cactix. “This competition has been very exciting for us. Until now, our sole focus has been the retail and export side of the business. But now we’re going to activate our social media strategy, thanks to this contest,” said Farah Anwar, partner and co-founder, Ashraf Electronics. Other participants were given certificates of appreciation. A raffle draw ended the event, with the award of Zotac Mini- PCs to two lucky winners. Simon Wallace, CEO, theWholeThing, Joe Moufarej, managing partner, TAGbrands, Vinod Kumar, director, Business Village, Dinesh Singh, CEO of Quantum Auditing, and Mohannad Abou Hammoud, managing director, Cactix at Business Village were also present at the award ceremony.
Helen Kay, owner of Helen Kay Gifts receives the second prize sponsored by The WholeThing. The award consisted of a sales plan development package worth AED18,400.
Sahel K Ataie, chairman of SRS International, received the third prize which was auditing services for a year worth AED25,000, sponsored by Quantum Auditing.
Farah Anwar, partner at Ashraf Electronics Trading LLC receives the social media award worth AED15,000, sponsored by Cactix.
Invest in just a click Sam Quawasmi and Christopher Thomas of Eureeca.com have brought to the UAE a transparent fund raising platform for SMEs. A TIS report.
rowd funding, a global phenomenon has slowly made its way to the Middle East with pioneers Sam Quawasmi and Christopher Thomas, founders of Eureeca.com, changing the way businesses receive much needed capital for their growth. Hailing from a background of investment banking and finance, the duo is familiar with the problems faced by new and growing businesses such as acquiring capital. “Ever since 2008, there has been a drop in terms of opportunities and options available to businesses to find ways to fund their growth. Sam and I knew that there was a solution to this and we’ve been discussing this for many years,” offers Thomas. Being a market that they are familiar with, Quawasmi and Thomas
set up in Dubai to provide opportunities to the UAE SME sector that falls to the tune of 200,000 companies. “The world is facing difficulties and the solution is start-ups and SMEs that are the main drivers behind any economy. Many SMEs fail due to the lack of access to capital and this is where the idea of Eureeca was originated,” says Quawasmi. Eureeca is an online marketplace that is open to entrepreneurs, investors and experts. Businesses that have the right information, business plan, structure and strategy, and have been in existence for 3-5 years and are already in the expansion phase are eligible to be listed on the website. “However, startups and business ideas also have a place
on our site although they may constitute only a small part of the opportunity portfolio,” Thomas remarks. Small investors will now have a chance to invest in SMEs and start-ups with as little as US$100 using their bank accounts, credit cards, or paypal and become shareholders of the business. How does it work? The entrepreneur applies by filling up an application form that asks basic questions about the business proposition.Then this information passes the due diligence process conducted by a third party compliance agency which will assess the information, perform fraud prevention checks, credit and bankruptcy among other checks, on the business and the business owners. This will ensure compliance with ‘Know Your Client’
SME Financing regulation for which a fee of US$250 is paid. Once this is completed, businesses provide a refundable deposit to Eureeca of two per cent of their funding target, after which the business pitch is ready to go onto the website. “The company will then be listed on the website and will have a threemonth time period to hit the funding target. Once the company has reached its funding targets our lawyers then take over to complete the ‘share swap’ and the company receives its funding in the company bank account,” adds Thomas. From an investor’s perspective, the site is very open and democratic so companies, whether large and small, have access to the same information. “They can view information, assess business plans, view comments made by entrepreneurs, they can like it, share it, and invest. If they decide to invest, they can invest as low as US$100 dollars. To be listed on our site they need to go through our very basic account opening procedure, some initial checks and they need to pay compliance costs on the first investment they make,” Thomas points out. In effect, this model raises funds in small amounts from many individuals. Response The initial response towards the website has been overwhelming, the Eureeca founders confirm. “We launched the beta phase last month and in just a week we received 65 applications from entrepreneurs and 200 subscriptions to the site. We’ve been overwhelmed with the response from entrepreneurs, investors and experts. It just shows how right the
Ever since 2008, there has been a drop in terms of opportunities and options available to businesses to find ways to fund their growth. Sam and I knew that there was a solution to this and we’ve been discussing this for many years. Christopher Thomas
market is here in Dubai and the UAE,” Quawasmi says. Being an online platform, the entrepreneurs, investors and experts have the liberty to communicate freely with each other. “Think of the site as online marketplace, so you, as an entrepreneur, have your own space to upload your information, documents. This can be peer reviewed, critiqued and challenged by the crowd. Within that space, experts, investors and other entrepreneurs have the ability to comment through chat rooms, internal e-mail, Q&A areas, forums and other social media networks. All of these can be voted on, shared and discussed within this ecosystem,” Thomas points out. Although the crowdfunding model might be a new concept in the Middle East, investors who have been exposed to this source of funding are apprehensive of the concept. Most investors and investment firms would prefer to conduct their own screening and examination of the company, so as to ensure for themselves that the venture is indeed investment-worthy. “We negotiate our own terms with
companies, and having every detail on an online platform that is open to all, is a hit to the confidentiality of our processes and clients,” opines Dr. Edward Roderick, co-chairman and managing partner of Envestors MENA. Ultimately, the founders of Eureeca envisage opening up the website to investors and entrepreneurs beyond the UAE market. The concept of a transparent website that gives the same information and opportunities to all is the selling point of this endeavour.
The world is facing difficulties and the solution is start-ups and SMEs who are the main drivers behind any economy. Many SMEs fail due to the lack of access to capital and this is where the idea of Eureeca was originated. Sam Quawasmi
Transforming business banking Intelligent SME spoke to Dr. Adnan Chilwan (AC), Deputy CEO, Dubai Islamic Bank, on the recently launched Al Islami Business Online service. ISME: How do you currently view the SME sector in the UAE and how do you think it will develop in the future? AC: The SME sector is a vibrant and
exciting part of the UAE economy today, accounting for an estimated 85 per cent of all businesses and contributing nearly 40 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product. The growth of the SME sector, driven by strong leadership from the government, is playing a key role in the ongoing diversification of the UAE economy. At Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), we are meeting an increasing number of high calibre entrepreneurs with very sound business plans seeking short and medium-term business finance. Looking ahead, I think it is inevitable that we will start to see
increasing numbers of these companies make the transition towards becoming true multinational corporations, by expanding their businesses into new markets in the Middle East and beyond. I also anticipate further diversification within the sector. Today, approximately three quarters of SMEs operate in the trade and retail sector. In the coming years, I think we will see this estimate fall as the UAE’s manufacturing and services base continues to develop.
ISME: What are the factors contributing to the development of the Al Islami Business Online service? What was the need that inspired the process? AC: Al Islami Business Online is
a natural continuation of DIB’s long term strategy to transform the current model of business banking. Often, only personal banking customers get access to the latest developments in financial services technology, but DIB believes companies should be able to benefit as well. It was with this in mind that we developed Al Islami Business Online, which meets the clear need of businesses in the UAE for simple, fast and efficient online banking services.
Cover Story ISME: Is there a cost reduction with the use of these online services in the long run? AC: Perhaps the biggest advantage
of using Al Islami Business Online is the amount of time it saves customers. Through the portal, customers can access over 75 services, from the simple to the complex, instantly and at their convenience.
ISME: What has been the response to the service? What is the feedback you have received from customers? Is there a positive side and a negative aspect you can improve upon? AC: We have been delighted by
the response to Al Islami Business Online. We sincerely believe it sets the industry benchmark for online business banking, and we will continue to look for areas of improvement and new services to add.
ISME: How many customers have you registered, especially since account formation was free during the launch of the service? AC: The response from our SME
customers to the launch of this service has been fantastic and a growing number are enrolling on a daily basis.
ISME: In a nutshell, please explain the advantages of availing the Al Islami Business Online services, as opposed to similar packages offered by other banks? AC: Put simply, Al Islami Business
Online makes business banking easy by enabling customers to access an enormous range of services at the touch of a button. Through the portal, customers can manage their funds 24/7, make global and domestic remittances, transfer salaries through the Wages Protection System (WPS), request cheque books, make payments for 18 different services including Etislalat, du, Salik etc and access direct debit services such as Dubai eGovernment and Dubai Trade.
Put simply, Al Islami Business Online makes business banking easy by enabling customers to access an enormous range of services at the touch of a button. ISME: How do you handle security
for the portal?
AC: Security is of paramount
importance to delivering online banking services and Al Islami Business Online incorporates multiple layers of robust security to ensure a customer’s account and personal information remain secure at all times, including 128-bit encryption, firewall, dual factor authentication and automatic session time out among others. Customers can also create multiple users with different levels of access to add a further layer of security.
ISME: Do you see this form of banking becoming a norm going forward?
AC: The first thing to say is that SME banking products in general have enormous growth potential here in the UAE. Despite SMEs representing 85 per cent of businesses in the UAE, it is estimated that they account for just four per cent of total bank loans, significantly below the international
average of 15 per cent. These statistics alone give you a very clear indication of the potential that exists for the UAE’s banks and, in turn, the nation’s SMEs. Looking more specifically at banking channels, without question SMEs in the UAE will continue to demand increasingly sophisticated business banking services in the future, and that is why we have invested heavily in developing Al Islami Business Online. Having said that, customers still value physical branches and the ability to meet face-to-face with business banking experts so, going forward, the business banking model will be a hybrid of traditional and alternative banking channels.
ISME. Is every branch of DIB equipped to handle queries on the Al Islami Business Online service? AC: Our team of expert bankers
across all our branches will be happy to explain the huge range of benefits associated with Al Islami Business Online. 31
The art of valuing your business
John Lincoln examines how businesses can undergo a self-evaluation process to exit or invest in the future.
am sure most investors and owners that have small and medium privately held businesses have wondered as to what their business is worth. I will try to keep this simple and not bother you with boring accounting and financial formulae, but rather approach
this in a way that is understandable to anyone running a small or medium business. Understanding how a business is valued will help small business owners and investors in SMEs to develop strategies and tactics to maximise the variables that matter.
Valuation is required not just for selling a business. There are many instances when a valuation exercise is required to establish the value of a company: An investor or entrepreneur decides to invest or buy into a business, rather than starting one from scratch. Or, an owner needs to establish the value of
John Lincoln has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications, worldwide and is currently the vice president of marketing (enterprise) at Du. He has extensive senior expertise in international telecommunications sales, marketing, business development and customer service delivery.
the company in order to contribute the appropriate number of shares to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Sometimes, a value is needed to establish the percentage of ownership that the new investors receive in the company; or a partner or partners who want to buy out the other partnerâ€™s interests in a company. Further, it may just be that an owner wants to exit the business and possibly retire. This is one problem that has many approaches to it. Before I dwell into some of the finer details, it will be useful to remember some guiding principles. Be sure of your motives beyond a windfall exit. There is no single best method to determine a business worth.Â The best way is to compute the value using different methods and choose the best one. Both the buyer and the seller must be satisfied with the deal with complete access to business records. Valuations should be based on facts, not fiction, with both parties dealing with one another honestly and in good faith. Set realistic and conservative expectations and know your cut off value points (whether you are a buyer or seller) so that you would be very clear in your mind, when a firm offer comes through. A business is only as much worth as how much someone is willing to pay for it. Get expert opinion, but it is you who will need to decide in the end. Have a crystal clear view of the value blocks (both positive value enhancers and negative and potential value destroyers of your business) and create multiple scenarios of the valuation model. Factors affecting valuation There are many factors that
affect the valuation of a business. They include the obvious ones like profitability and growth potential, the uniqueness of the value proposition of the business, the existing provable customer base and others. Other factors that are often not that obvious include factors like tax credits for past losses, goodwill based on a companyâ€™s reputation in the market and proprietary processes and methods and or patents awarded or pending that are not known or easily replicated. For start-ups that have not generated any revenue and those that are still in the development stage, the key considerations include stage of development of technology. Valuations of start-ups vary significantly when a prototype is in development stage to a beta testing phase to a stage when customers are actually willing to pay and use your product or service. Cash is king and growth matters! Every business valuation follows some basic principles that you should always keep in mind. Every business is valued based on its growth potential. Growth is fundamental for any business. Without a growth potential, there is really no reason for anyone to invest or buy a business. Remember that the business investment capital comes from two sources - by investors investing money in the business and from borrowings. Therefore, there is a cost of capital. One is
the opportunity cost of returns forgone from other investments, and the other is the actual cost of borrowing. As a business owner, the profits generated from your company can be reinvested to grow the business, pay off your debt or reward your investors with dividends. You and the investors in your business or the potential buyers of your business can invest their money somewhere else or in the stock market and can expect some reasonable returns. There is a time value of money. A US$1,000 paid at the end of a five-year period is not the same if it were paid today, because if you had made some safe investments in the market or put the money in the bank, you can expect some level of reasonable returns. You may not know this, but for 33
“Earnings can be pliable as putty when a charlatan heads the company reporting them”- Warren Buffet
Business Evaluation almost all public companies, only about less than 10 per cent of the market capitalisation can be explained from the expected cash flows generated during a known planning period of say, five years. Trying to predict anything beyond a five or a 10-year business plan time horizon has too many uncertainties, and is not worth the paper it is printed on. So analysts use the growth factor to forecast the terminal value or the continuing value of the business. This terminal value or continuing value accounts for about 95 per cent of a company’s market capitalisation. If you do not believe me, take a look at some of the largest and well known businesses in the world. Their revenue numbers are well known and reported and it is easy for you to check this.
Here are some valuation methods: Asset based valuation This is done by estimating the value of the company’s assets. As assets are used to generate revenues, this often underestimates a growing business. Conversely, if a business has a large asset base but does not generate much money, then the business is not worth purchasing! There are three well known asset based valuation methods. They are:
Modif ied book value technique - This method adjusts the company’s assets by looking at the historical value of the assets and adjusting this value to reflect current market values. Replacement value technique The value of a company’s assets are adjusted by deducting the cost it takes to replace or replenish the assets.
Liquidation value technique - This is usually used in a forced sale situation and assessed as if the company has ceased operations and its assets are liquidated and sold. Market comparable valuation This is difficult as no one business is the same. The intrinsic value of a business 34
Every business valuation follows some basic principles that you should always keep in mind. can only be understood by going beyond just comparing valuations of other like businesses. In this method, the value of comparable companies sold is divided by the earnings of those companies to derive a multiple to determine value. In this valuation technique, a company’s current earnings are multiplied by the multiple factor to determine the value of the company. It goes without saying that the higher the growth potential or lower the implicit and explicit risks, the higher the multiple and therefore the higher the valuation. In addition, a lot of ambiguous factors like a company’s vulnerability to market and economic risks (lower multiple), the over dependency on a few key people for the success of the business (lower multiple) and others determine the multiples. Goodwill factors like a company’s reputation, unique location or customer relationships are often misrepresented when determining valuations using this method. The common methods of doing market comparable valuation include: Earnings multiple ratio method - A company value is determined by multiplying the earnings to a multiple that is compared to sale of other similar businesses. Normalised earnings method - This is similar to the earnings
multiple method but it adjusts the earnings for “unusual” items like the owner’s salary or normalising the earnings impact for extraordinary events that affected the earnings such as natural disasters or fires and others. Cash f low based valuation This is one of the most common and more accepted methods as it takes into account the value by determining the cash flow streams of the company and the growth potential. In simplistic terms, Free Cash Flow is the amount of cash generated by the business minus the operating and capital expenditures and other reinvestments made, and the growth potential of the cash flow is estimated. These cash flows are then discounted in today’s value by using a required rate of return which takes into account the opportunity cost of the money if it is invested in other investments as well as the borrowing costs. The tax benefits for the interest paid for the borrowings are also taken into account. “Earnings can be pliable as putty when a charlatan heads the company reporting them”- Warren Buffet As Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha, and the famous American entrepreneur said, it is important that SME owners and investors think seriously of their accounting practices and methods if they have plans to sell their interests in a business. If you have business exit and retirement on your mind make sure that your financial records are impeccable, well managed, traceable and audited by reputable firms. Do not underestimate the value that you might have to forgo if you do not have proper and auditable records. Get experts to advise and help you. Finally, always ask yourself if your business growth is sustainable and how you could make it sustainable. Otherwise, all that blood, sweat and tears that you put into your business might not pay off. Growth matters! As Peter Drucker, the famous American management guru said “Erroneous assumptions can be disastrous.”
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Sales: skill or talent? Zed Ayesh elucidates the sales process and how it can be improved for added response and increased revenue.
or any business it is crucial to earn sales revenue, regardless of the way the company is set up by delivering its products and services to its consumers. SMEs are faced with many challenges - generating revenue being the most significant of them all. It gets interesting if the SME needs to hire and use sales people to sell its products 36
and much more interesting when SMEs are using sales people to sell a service, which is intangible. This makes sales people more important in the revenue equation. As a result, this dictates a new set of challenges for SME owners and decision makers: hiring the right sales people, managing them, getting the needed revenue and what to do with sales people when revenue
is not being generated. Some questions repeated by SME managers include: how do we know that we are hiring the right sales people, and how to get the expected results, and how to manage a sales force? Achievers and non-achievers alike, these questions are raised by SME managers due to their lack of knowledge and experience in sales, and for them sales
The targeted market segment should be without any doubts clearly indentified.
management takes up more time than revenue generating activities. A recent write-up by sales strategists Richard Wellins, Charles Cosentiane and Bradford Thomas concludes that the two major problems in sales as a business activity are lack of leadership and coaching among sales leaders and the substantial gap in sales skills. These major problems emphasise the fact that sales as a business activity is misunderstood by sales people and their managers that hire and manage them. Wellins, Cosentiane and Thomas also mention that more than 40 per cent of sales people donâ€™t have the skills to do their jobs (My personal experience tells me that the percentage is much higher!). According to another study, sales people do not achieve results due to the following reasons: poor selling skills, lack of motivation to sell, and lack of industry knowledge. Furthermore, sales leaders in SMEs, who are also owners and decision makers, generally tend to direct their sales executives in a wrong direction because of their own misconceptions and inaccurate knowledge of sales as business activity. Selling is not about manipulation or control. It is not about having the ability to convince a customer to buy something that he doesnâ€™t need or want, neither it is the ability to talk, and nor it is about chasing a big sale. SME managers are faulted, in many instances, when it comes to sales as a business activity in this region, as they look down upon the profession and hire a low skilled sales executive for a low salary than a highly skilled person with
a high salary. They hire sales people often putting them on a non-motivational compensation scheme, which ends up driving the organisation backward. The above mentioned reasons create a significant hurdle for SME managers, both internally and externally, and the results are negative to say the least. It also leads to lost opportunities, chasing wrong leads, an inability to identify target segments of the market, apart from frustrations
Sales people are not achieving results due to the following reasons: poor selling skills, lack of motivation to sell, and lack of industry knowledge.
caused to sales people and business managers. A weak sales department is a financial drain to an organisation. Many SME managers recognise the financial drain and cash flow strains which forces a good number of SME managers to seek help within this area of expertise. For all SME managers and other people seeking answers and advice in this area of the business, it is important to know that sales is a skill that can be learned, developed and mastered by individuals and organisations. The argument that sales is a talent or a gift is not true; some people are introvert and some are extrovert, but this does not play a role when it comes to achieving results in sales. It is also true that some people are more persuasive than others, and which is an added value, but persuasiveness alone will not make a customer buy if they are offered something they donâ€™t need or they cannot use. Persuasiveness is also less effective in B2B activities. An organisation has much to do, to be able to have appropriate sales skills. The targeted market segment should be clearly identified. The products and services sold by an organisation should be clearly framed with all necessary knowledge provided to all individuals within the organisation, especially those interacting with the customers. An organisation should clearly identify the method in which it is going to deliver its products or services to the clients. An organisation should equip all its employees in the sales process with better products and service knowledge, installing pride in the employees. 37
Zed Ayesh has over 20 yearsâ€™ experience in management and business development. He is currently the managing director of Flagship Consultancy based in Dubai, and works with clients on many aspects of the business from strategic planning, business development, marketing strategies, pre-sales and sales management, across different sectors such as government agencies, real estate, media companies, manufacturing, contracting, engineering firms, retail and shipping companies.
An organisation should be plan and execute lead generating activities; it is necessary to tell the targeted segments that you exist. For the executives, sales as a business activity is a process made of steps that require certain skills: Information gathering and collection Without accurate information of the targeted segments, sales people will be shooting in the dark, which will end up in frustration for both the sales person and the organisation. Pre-qualifying targeted customers Knowing the customers, their buying behaviour, the decision makers, purchase process of the customer and other information will make the sales personâ€™s job much easier, more effective and will reflect positively on the relationship between the customer and the sales person. Making appointments Sales executives are more certain to secure an appointment with a potential customer if he or she can show an interest in knowing him or her, rather than making a sales pitch. It is a practice that can be learned through training. Presentation More often, when making presentations to potential customers, sales executives focus on their company, their products or services
Every proposal made to a client must be simple, concise, easy to read and understand, and focus on the solution and delivery method of the solution to the customer.
and how good it is. In most cases, this is never effective enough to convince the customer. The presentation should be short, visual and should tell the customer how the product or service will benefit him and his business. The solution and the way to obtain the solution should be clear in the presentation. Throughout the presentation or discussions with the potential customer, the sales executive should assess his client: is he going in the right direction? Is he showing an interest? Is he getting questions? As mentioned in my previous article the sales person should listen to the customer with his eyes not ears. Simple proposal Every proposal made to a client must be simple, concise, easy to read and understand, and focus on the solution
and delivery method of the solution to the customer. Discounts It is a given in our part of the world that no matter what a salesperson presents, the customer will always ask for a discount and better costing. This is done, in most times, disregarding the quality of the product or service, which once affected, reflects negatively on the organisation. Compromising on quality to meet the price requirements of a potential customer is a dangerous proposal for any organisation. The focus of any negotiation with potential customers should be about the solution provided and the benefits of such a solution to the potential customers and his organisation. Small discounts that meet the current market culture are understandable, but in any case, should not affect quality. Create goodwill Being with the customer when he gets his first order and/or his first service with your organisation has a great impact and everlasting effect. In addition, excellent customer service with shortest possible turnaround time will help in future sales. Successful sales people have few things in common such as being good listeners, building and strengthening relationships, and being self motivated and disciplined individuals. These key pointers should help sales executives immensely in their career.
The DNA of a healthy workplace culture Carole Spiers considers the factors that are responsible for employees achieving their maximum performance.
reating a healthy workplace culture means making a fresh evaluation of the job description and talents of every person in the workplace and how to utilise them more effectively. Organisations need to move away from an over-reliance on IT, systems and processes, and adopt attitudes that are more successful in employee engagement. They need to value the richness of cultural diversity and to exploit the range of abilities that are already within the organisation. Team empowerment It is vital for managers to fully engage with their teams, but it has to be recognised that they cannot always be ‘all things to all people’. Whilst they need to be firm but fair, they must always strive to be ‘good listeners’. Managers need a comprehensive toolkit of skills as well as having an ‘open door’ policy to encourage a twoway dialogue between themselves and members of their team. It is always necessary to get ‘buyin’ from them in order to establish loyalty and commitment in return. Whilst it may not be possible to pay more money, praise and recognition will encourage employees into ‘wanting’ to do more for their manager and for the organisation. Both line and middle managers reportedly spend a considerable amount of their day dealing with underperforming employees, yet middle management do not always have the necessary peopleskills to manage their teams effectively. Identifying the needs of individual managers and providing necessary coaching is therefore vital if they are to be able to fulfill their role and provide regular constructive feedback as well as being proactive, instead of always being reactive to daily problems. Seeking to understand the reasons underlying poor performance and to address the causes thereof is an important part of a manager’s role. It is necessary to ensure that a performance contract is a two-way agreement and includes details as to how a manager will contribute in enabling an
employee to achieve his/her maximum performance. Employee engagement An ‘engaged’ employee is one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about his or her work. Spending more time exploring individual needs and career aspirations is a key element in securing employee engagement and the retention of high performers. Empowering managers to manage staff and take responsibility for their performance review is a regular responsibility. This also means handling the team as a human entity encouraging the ‘feel good’ factor- and allocating roles and responsibilities correctly. Effective communication Communication within the company has to be effective at all levels, in order to attain efficient understanding and appreciation of goals, targets and deadlines etc. It is important to have a two-way dialogue between management and staff; between the CEO and the board and between the board and line managers. Effective communication has been found to be a weakness in many organisations, from the largest to the smallest, and not enough time and training is given to the issue. Middle managers often find themselves promoted to a position with responsibility for a team without having the necessary communication skills to manage that team effectively.
Listening and non-verbal communication are equally as important as verbal communication. The careful listener can often identify potential stressors at an early stage and manage them accordingly and therefore reduce the impact on the organisation. Creativity and innovation Creativity and innovation is the lifeblood of any organisation and it can be stimulated by effective leadership. The mission of every leader should be to search continually for ideas and programmes that are superior to those already in existence and which can lead to a competitive edge. However, all too often, creative thinking is seen as the preserve of departments such as sales and marketing or research and development. Creative leaders have a mindset that enables creativity to happen, as if by chance. Management needs to foster creativity and involve their teams with the challenges of the organisation. Creativity is contagious and ideas need to be nurtured. Formal brainstorming sessions can be established with individuals taking ownership to provide fresh insight into business challenges and solutions. Praise and appraisal Nothing can be more important than giving praise for a job well done. A regular appraisal identifies strengths and weaknesses and allows for assessment of CPD and on-the-job training. An appraisal is a two-way 41
HR Strategy Carole Spiers has spent 20 years as CEO of a leading UK Stress Management Consultancy, working with equal success both in the UK and the Gulf. She is a BBC guest broadcaster and sought after international Motivational Speaker. Carole is a weekly columnist for Gulf News and is regularly called by the press for comment. Her new book, Show Stress Who’s Boss! is available on Amazon and in all good UAE bookshops. Book Carole for a high-impact, charismatic presentation at your next conference. firstname.lastname@example.org.,www.carolespiers.com
process which enables the manager and employee to agree targets for performance and have an agreed work plan. Whilst an appraisal should be an ongoing process, it is also necessary to have a formal timetable for review. Recognition and reward Being valued and recognised is an essential element within a healthy workplace culture and almost as important as the monetary reward on offer. Recognition and reward have to be commensurate with the task, but undervaluing skills at any level can lead to low productivity and poor morale. Providing benefit packages over and above the basic salary is another way of expressing recognition and enhancing reward. Effective corporate goal setting To be effective within an organisation, individuals need to be aware of the corporate goals and wherever possible, have a stake in achieving them. Bonuses and performance-related pay are great incentives for employees at all levels. High morale The morale of an organisation is fundamental to its success. High morale suggests a well-motivated and energised workforce that is keen to succeed. Employees will be committed to meeting and even exceeding targets when morale is high and it is therefore an essential ingredient for sustainable success and competitive advantage. Corporate inspiration Team members need to feel that they are working for an organisation that is not only successful but inspirational - a place where others would seek to work if they had the opportunity. Its name and image 42
should suggest distinction, both internally and externally. The user benefits of the company’s products and services should be made known to all employees, at all levels. There should also be clear evidence of high ethical standards in all the company’s dealings. Increasingly, this extends to social responsibility in the outside world. In commercial competition, employees should still feel that they, and the organisation, have integrity. Anti-stress interventions Stress needs to be managed from the boardroom right throughout the organisation. CEOs should attend stress management boardroom briefings so that they can fully appreciate that work stress can damage profitability as well as the health and safety of employees. A structured approach will be needed in order to grow a healthy workplace culture which in turn will ensure the sustainable competitive advantage of the business. Resilience is also important to individuals at a personal level. Those managers and employees facing an uncertain future will need all the inner strength they can muster to energise themselves to take advantage of changing circumstances. Strengthening personal resilience will help retain performance levels. Employers, faced with making changes to their staffing levels, will need to maintain a concern for their staff when they leave for reputational and sound business reasons, for there may be times when businesses and services need to recruit the same skilled employees once more from a shrinking pool of expertise. Positive attitudes and common goals If you think a goal is achievable then the chances are it is. A positive
attitude is everything in a successful organisation. The moment negativity creeps in, creativity and motivation rush out! Positive affirmations from the boardroom to the workforce give an organisation more chance of succeeding and meeting its targets. A cohesive team will also have common goals and a positive attitude as team members will support both each other and the business. Corporate wellbeing Organisations need to address not only their employees’ cognitive capacity but also their physical, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing in order to fully gain the benefit of those capacities. A successful approach to sustained high performance must consider the person as a whole, addressing all these factors. Corporate entrepreneurship Employees need to start working in a socially entrepreneurial manner; identifying opportunity for and championing socially responsible activity, in addition to helping the business achieve its business targets. Embrace diversity Organisations can be enriched through the wealth of cultural differences there are within them but, again, this needs to be exploited in a way that everyone gains an advantage or benefit. Organisations can implement a scheme of healthy workplace ambassador champions who will live and breathe the culture of the organisation and bring sustainable success to the business. It is not complicated to grow a healthy culture but it does need to be a priority in the minds of senior board members to ensure that it is followed through at all levels throughout the organisation.
The sales objection inoculators Phil Bedford explains how to go about writing a testimonial and the value it generates for businesses.
therwise known as the testimonial, this is one of the most powerful tools we have in helping to close sales and one of the least correctly utilised. Most testimonials we see are “shallow” and pretty much useless. Anyone looking to use your services needs to see real value or ROI from using your product or service. A good format for a testimonial would be to firstly mention the problem or situation which caused you to employ the particular service or product. Secondly, you can add your experience of using the product or service. Thirdly, input the result of using the service and any return on investment as well. The following example puts these three key points to good use. Example Hi Phil- I know this has been a long time coming, but I do not give testimonials for the sake of it, only when I have witnessed great service or benefit. I am now into week 10 of the Referral Institute Certified Networker Programme, and am delighted with the results so far. I can categorise my ROI in 3 areas as below; 1. Financially- I received business to twice the value of my initial investment in the programme, within four weeks. 2. Personally- I am 46 years of age, and quite honestly thought of myself as a good networker, therefore somewhat sceptical of the possible benefits of the programme. I also almost convinced myself that I really did not have time to 44
Most testimonials we see are “shallow” and pretty much useless. Anyone looking to use your services needs to see real value or ROI from using your product or service.
An experienced business trainer, Phil Bedford brings over a decade of experience to his role as Master Franchisee for the Referral Institute. His expertise and experience of working with both companies and networking associations, coupled with a passion for training have helped him immensely. He regularly appears as a speaker in the UAE and abroad, educating people on how to build their business by word of mouth and â€œCreating Referrals for Life.â€?
commit to the programme for the full 12 weeks. How wrong I was! I now have a full kit of referral tools that I can use with ease and confidence, giving me absolute certainty that 95 per cent of my future business will come from referral marketing. 3. My referral partners- I have already generated in excess of AED700,000 for my referral partners via other members of the CNP programme- the calibre of the delegates is so high that I am convinced that number will grow and grow. I could not recommend the programme more highly for anybody who actually wants to learn how to achieve real success in referral marketing, as long as you are willing to adopt all that is taught. Best regards, Peter Cowan Realtime Learning, Dubai
It always helps to get a testimonial as soon as you can or the person may disappear, however this is not necessarily the most impactful time. If you have laid grass seeds for example, you may wish to wait until there is beautiful, thick grass before requesting the testimonial. If it were requested immediately then one would assume it would be more about the service than the result. How to get testimonials I think it goes without saying, to ask is probably the first thing to do, but then many people are shy to ask. So here are some tips: Do a follow up audit and, if they comment favourably, ask if it can be used or even expanded on. Offer to promote your client to your network. They could start the
It is always good to provide an electronic copy for your client to upload to websites and LinkedIn. testimonial by saying what they do and then how it has helped them. When you share the testimonial it also promotes their business to your network. Some behavioural styles offer to provide testimonials, but then do not get round to it. Normally, the fast paced styles those we call go-getters and promoters. I suggest asking them verbally what they would like to say and then offer to write it for them and then get their approval. Do the work for them, they like that. Frame it It is always good to provide an electronic copy for your client to upload to websites and LinkedIn. (A note on LinkedIn: make sure you are requesting testimonials from people you have done work for. I often get testimonial requests from people I have spoken to once. My immediate thought is if they are asking based on this then they either just do not understand what a testimonial is or they simply havenâ€™t done enough good work to have decent ones.) How about framing one you have given to a client, it must be a really nice frame. Not only will your client be more likely to put it up on the wall. It also becomes advertising for you. According to the Certified Networker II Program, giving testimonials is also one of the 18 tactics to motivate your referral source, which
will in fact, encourage them to refer you. Share with your network Make sure you share your testimonials with your network. Especially for your true believers, this gives them a great tool to give to potential referrals. Provide at least one for each of your products or services. Top 3 Think of your top three sales objections and strategically find testimonials to counter these objections. Video The power of the web can be harnessed like never before. The video testimonial has really come into its own. You can use the same format as mentioned above with the clients promoting their own business subtly and then following on with a testimonial. Many people do not like to read, but they love to watch. Upfront If you can get highly trained referral partners they can even utilise these testimonials as part of their introduction of you and your services. If introduced before the client can start to object, then we have already dealt with the objection in advance. It is truly an inoculation. 45
Owning property offshore
Why would you own a property in Dubai through an offshore company and not in your own individual name? Nita Maru answers some frequently asked questions, which will help clear any doubts surrounding this topic. 46
Business Law Nita Maru is a British qualified solicitor and founder of The Wills Specialists (www. willsuae.com). With over 14 years of experience in senior legal positions, Nita has authored several articles and essays on asset and wealth protection. Her focus is on safeguarding families, heirs and businesses, under succession and inheritance laws in Shari’ah jurisdictions. The Wills Specialists is a law firm based in Dubai, dedicated to the business of wills, asset protection, business succession planning, offshore structures and trusts. The firm is accredited by the Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department, and by the Dubai Ruler’s Court. Their office location is Office Suite 1305, Saba 1 Tower , Jumeirah Lakes Towers. Dubai.
Q. What is the main benefit of
owning property through an offshore company? Isn’t it better to have the property held in your own name?
A. The inheritance laws in Dubai are
neither straight forward nor the same as those back in the UK or the European Union. If a foreigner owns property in Dubai and passes away, the laws of their home country may not apply to their assets. Instead, Shari’ah law may apply. Under Shari’ah law, the property of the deceased is usually transferred to the closest male relative. There is no automatic transfer of the property to the surviving spouse either. By structuring your property into an offshore company, you ensure that Shari’ah law will not apply to your assets and those lengthy probate proceedings are avoided.
Q. What type of offshore companies
can we use?
A. Since January 1, 2011, the only
offshore company that can be used to hold real estate owned in Dubai is the Jebel Ali Offshore Company. This company does not allow you to trade, give you residency nor work permits. The shares of the Jebel Ali Offshore Company can be held in personal names but we usually have the shares held by an offshore company 100 per cent. We recommend common law offshore jurisdictions such as British Virgin Islands. This means that if a death occurs, Shari’ah law will not apply as your assets would be held in the name of the offshore entity and not in individual names. The probate process would also take place in foreign courts.
Q. What are the other benefits of holding a property in Dubai offshore?
A. The offshore entity can be designed
to suit joint investors. So a group of investors can hold shares in an offshore entity which ultimately protects their portion of shares in the property. It also provides confidentiality and privacy, hence protecting your assets.
Q. If I already own property, can I still transfer this into an offshore company? A. Yes, you can transfer all freehold property held in your own personal name into the name of the offshore entity.
Q. Can I own other assets through the company?
A. Yes. A company is a legal entity and can own any asset. So bank accounts, stocks and shares and properties in the UAE and internationally can all be held by an offshore company. Offshore trusts Are you an expat resident in the UAE? Are you a partner or a share holder of a business in the freezone or of an LLC? Do you own the freehold property either jointly or in your personal name? Do you have a local bank account? Do you have children? If the answer is YES, to either one or all of the above questions, have you considered having a ‘trust’ in place to secure your assets and your family’s future? Offshore trust formation is a highly effective estate planning and asset protection tool, particularly in the Middle East, where local Shari’ah
law prevails. A legal consultancy can assist with all aspects of offshore trust formation that help you put in place wealth structures that address future ambitions and goals as well as your current needs. The following information will help you determine whether offshore trust formation will fulfill your personal or business objectives. Those that own a business or shares in a business should consider the importance of having an offshore trust in place. The use of a trust can provide asset protection for the settler and beneficiaries in case of economic, political, family or business uncertainty such as unexpected divorce or bankruptcy. It also aids in succession planning allowing for the transfer of wealth in a tax efficient and timely manner. A trust also offers a solution to consolidate and administer family wealth. Further, a trust can overcome problems of obtaining probate (or its equivalent) in several jurisdictions. More importantly, a trust bypasses the local laws in the event of death. It also aids in professional management of assets for the benefit of vulnerable beneficiaries who cannot manage or be trusted to manage their own assets. This could include disabled children, addicts, or persons who might be pressured by third parties. The trust deed is not a public document and provides confidentiality for both settlor and beneficiary. The use of a trust can provide asset protection for the settler and benef iciaries in case of economic, political, family or business uncertainty such as divorce or bankruptcy. 47
Managing the management of change
V. Ramkumar finds out what goes into bringing change across an enterprise. he greatest effort in change management is in comprehending the change itself. Simple as it may sound, I have always found it the most interesting, yet intriguing part of implementing a process or organisational transformation across both SME and large enterprises. Let us understand this better. We deal with change across an organisation in three levels, based on the context and impact that it tends to create. In simple terms, this is reflected by the depth of change it brings in the organisation, the time-span that this change tends to be
absorbed across the enterprise, and the effort it takes to bring in this change. So what are these? Individual unit level This is typically evident in a new focus that organisations bring in, seen in unit level focus for a specific objective, typically for a quick short term one. A good example in a change sales effort -- bringing in a new direction and focus on the target segment, key account relationships, transforming the sales organisation to bring in higher customer focus and driving higher sales performance.
These have a high focus at a unit level, has a faster implementation timeframe, and relatively quick in getting it implemented. Business unit level Be it an entire business unit such as an operations function or a finance function, SMEs do bring in and implement change at a specific business unit level. These are usually done over a period of time, and driven by a relatively longer-term objective. Typically these initiatives are driven towards addressing key pain points such as addressing increased customer
While human tendency is usually to resist change, in most circumstances, the acceptability of the change is much higher at an individual unit level.
V Ramkumar is senior director at Cedar Management Consulting International LLC, a US based management consulting firm whose heritage includes being part of the firm founded by creators of the Balanced Scorecard. Ram has over 17 years of management consulting and strategic transformation experience. He can be reached at email@example.com
complaints in a certain area, reducing cost structure of a certain production process, among others. Further, it does take a higher effort to have these fully implemented. Enterprise level These include less frequent initiatives that have a very high degree impact across the organisation. While unit level changes may be done more frequently, enterprise level changes are not expected to happen too soon, and too frequently - or they would have an adverse effect too. A very common example of enterprise level change is where an ERP solution is rolled out across the organisation and resultant change it brings in the way the processes are rolled out. Not only is this change more long-term in its sustainability, but also has an effect across the organisation and takes a significant effort to execute. While human tendency is usually to resist change, in most circumstances, the acceptability of the change is much higher at an individual unit level. As the surface of change grows, so does the complexity of implementation. The point to remember is that the enterprise level changes are not just trial and error initiatives. These call for very high investments, demand a fair degree of management time, are assumed to be the foundation layers for future direction of the organisation, and when they don’t bring in the desired results, the loss is significant. So what can be done here, and how does one ensure the change is managed well, and even better, maximise the value derived from an effort of such an organizational change? Based on over 17 years of consulting experience, I have always seen this best managed when four basic tenets of change are
well implemented. Let us explore them closely: Communicate the benef its Silly as it may sound; sometimes the most impactful aspect of large projects is not in the execution of it, but in simple and direct communication to beneficiaries. When the participant of change process is made aware of benefits that come with it, the degree of involvement increases manifold. Taking extra effort to make employees aware of benefits - be it simpler processes, reduced effort, increased customer benefit or organisational efficiency, the more clear the communication, the more effective its acceptance. Ensuring completeness of message reduces second-guessing and mitigates an invariable element of skepticism. Maximise participation I have always found ownership levels automatically driven when you have participation levels increased. It does not matter if the involvement is in just one element of the project or many. The fact that an employee had participated in it itself drives the sense of ownership. A word of special attention here -- it is important that the most dissonant unit of the enterprise or stakeholder gets to participate most. The age-old technique of having the bully in the class being made the monitor almost applies in all situations, and change management is no exception. Celebrate change Unfortunately, success does not receive the same attention as issues and challenges. Instinctively, management focus always tends to focus on the areas of issues that need
attention. While this is key to fix a problem on a timely basis, it also tends to dilute the opportunity of celebrating successes. When an organisation is driven towards a mission where change is the foundation, every element of success on the way deserves a higher visibility and management appreciation - that is the key to institutionalising improvements. Drive change from the top What is important to my boss is important to me. And that’s universal! Unless the CEO and his direct reportees embrace change, you do not expect it to percolate down the order. In most organisations, this happens to be the most common cause for critical projects not taking off. Neither carrot, nor stick does the miracle when management conviction is weak. Conviction needs to be demonstrated in more ways than just lip service, and the responsibility lies at the top. The best part of these initiatives is that they are universal, and applicable in most situations. While all four are important, they are not necessarily in a certain order, and each of them have their own benefits and not required to be implemented collectively. And a last word on change - as I said before, the most important part of bringing in change is in comprehending it. Let’s say it’s not about just comprehending, the change but about having both the cause and effect being comprehended by everyone who matters! 49
An IPO to meet financing needs Craig Hewitt encourages SMEs to take IPOs as a means of generating capital to further their development.
reveal an impressive range of innovative, fast-growing enterprises that can look to the future with confidence. Unfortunately, however, there is a shortage of another kind; namely a lack of capital to enable many of these companies to fund their further development and achieve their potential for expansion. Traditional sources of financing, such as bank loans, can be hard to come by these days. In any case borrowing money leaves a company with debts to pay off in future. It is not surprising, therefore, that many SMEs are increasingly considering another route to successfully meet their financing needs. This is to carry out an initial public offering, commonly known as an IPO, on a stock exchange. IPOs are sometimes seen as being suitable mainly for larger companies. 50
However, many stock markets around the world cater to SMEs as well and NASDAQ Dubai, the exchange located in the Dubai International Financial Centre, is no exception. Due to a change in the rules that govern IPOs on the exchange, which came into effect in July 2012, companies with a market capitalisation of just US$10 million (down from US$50 million previously) can now go public on NASDAQ Dubai. This opens the door to many more companies, including those that have not yet reached that size but expect to do so before long. NASDAQ Dubai is already in talks with a number of Dubai SMEs that are interested in â€˜going publicâ€™, as carrying out an IPO is called.
ubai has no shortage of dynamic and well-run SMEs. The Dubai SME 100 rankings
of company shares need be sold.
Key benef its The owners of these companies are attracted to choosing NASDAQ Dubai for an IPO by a number of benefits including: Raising much-needed funds from new shareholders while retaining overall control of the company - this is because owners need to sell only 25 per cent of their shares in an IPO, under the rules that govern listings. In addition, because no money is borrowed, the company remains debt-free. Selling shares in the IPO at the price they are really worth in the
Craig Hewett is senior vice president- head of business development at NASDAQ Dubai with responsibility for the commercial activities of the exchange. These include product and market development, membership, training and market data. Prior to joining NASDAQ Dubai in July 2011, he held the position of chief business officer at the Bahrain Financial Exchange (BFX) from 2008. He brings a wealth of international expertise in trading a variety of asset classes.
market: this is because the exchange allows a company to choose the IPO share price itself, after talking to potential investors. By contrast, many other regional exchanges impose an artificially low price. And a private sale of shares often fails to raise their true market value. Raising awareness A listing on the region’s international exchange takes place in a blaze of publicity, which can be good for business. All that press coverage can put your company on the map with people who previously knew little about it.
A listed company is structured to have an effective board of directors, good corporate governance and sound financial procedures. The public disclosures that are made by a listed company enhance its transparency, increasing public trust. This improves a company’s long-term prospect of success. Active trading Other advantages include a chance to join an active trading platform that is used jointly by both NASDAQ Dubai and Dubai Financial Market. This platform can be used by more than 550,000 investors who are registered to
A listing on the region’s international exchange takes place in a blaze of publicity, which can be good for business.
trade the shares of more than 70 listed companies. If you list your company on NASDAQ Dubai, these same investors will find it easy to buy and sell shares in your company if they wish. Such trading, continuing on an ongoing basis after the IPO, can be beneficial for a company as it keeps it in the public eye. It also creates a ready market for further issue of shares by the company, should it wish to carry out another round of capital-raising. Preparation Going public requires preparation, of course. This includes ensuring that the company’s financial accounts are prepared in the right way. The company also sets out basic facts about its business, and its senior management, in a document called a prospectus that must be approved by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), NASDAQ Dubai’s regulator. The DFSA is acknowledged as operating to international standards, so its approval is an important tick in the box for potential investors as they decide whether to buy a company’s shares. A company wishing to carry out an IPO needs help from external advisors for its accounting and legal needs, as well as in preparing its prospectus and selling its shares to investors. Fortunately Dubai is home to many advisory firms that have the required expertise. Combined with regular contact with the exchange and its regulator in the run-up to IPO, this framework can make the listing process a straightforward exercise for any well managed and committed company. As the economy recovers from the global financial crisis and more companies grow and prosper, the outlook for SMEs to successfully raise capital through an IPO is looking positive. 51
Demystifying banking: SWIFT messages
Having trouble with banking jargon? Harshit. H Jain throws light on the entire banking process in this column. e all have our moments where we fail to receive some funds for which we demand an explanation from the bank. A common phrase we hear is, “We shall credit your account as soon as we receive (or sight) the SWIFT MT-103.” For those unfamiliar with banking terms, this might be perplexing. So, what is SWIFT? SWIFT is an enigma to most customers who typically encounter the above message while checking with their bank about the receipt of funds into their account from their overseas customers. Some of them take it to mean the English word “swift” and wonder why funds transfer should therefore take so long! Frankly, 52
this term has now become so firmly ingrained as part of the bank jargon that sometimes even well-heeled bankers or new joinees in banks do not fully comprehend what SWIFT really is. Established in 1973, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a telecommunications and messaging network owned by banks and is today used by over 10,000 banks, financial institutions and corporations (from 2001 onwards) for the exchange of financial data between members. It is a non-profit bank-owned cooperative (www.swift.com) that was incorporated in Belgium and operates in 210 countries and processes over 5 billion messages every year. SWIFT facilitates international payments, but it is not a payment,
clearing or settlement system. It is also increasingly serving as a standards organisation and has a tagline which states, “The global provider of secure financial messaging services.” SWIFT uses a set of strict standards, which when used accurately, enables standardised messages to be generated, received and interfaced by bank computers and local clearing systems in a fully automated way (Straight Through Processing or STP). In most countries, electronic links/ interfaces have been built between SWIFT and the local electronic clearing systems like Clearing House Interbank Payment System (CHIPS) in New York and Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS) in UK to facilitate international funds transfers. At a higher level, SWIFT provides
SME Financing Harshit H. Jain is a seasoned banker with over 25 years of global banking experience and commercial success across Asia and Middle East. He is the founding CEO of InnoVention Solutions, a young and versatile consultancy and training firm which focuses on providing consultancy, training and advisory services to banks, financial institutions and corporate customers (Institutional clients as well as SME clients) in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region.
standardised message formats for all transactions. SWIFT messages maintain high security using a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). There is no downtime for SWIFT networks, therefore, a member bank receiving the message cannot deny receiving it. Furthermore, it is a high security network that has known no virus attacks in over 39 years of service and has operations centres and regional processors. It is a very secure network that transmits data, and not funds. How does the SWIFT network work? SWIFT network works like a typical postal mailbox network connecting its members- be it banks, financial institutions or corporationsexcept that it is a global network and vey secure at that. It uses addresses, called the SWIFT Bank Identifier Code (BIC), which are standardised addresses to route messages from one member to another member within SWIFT globally.
SWIFT BIC address
BBBB CC LL (bbb) which is deciphered as:
BBBB being the unique fourcharacter Bank code
CC is a unique two-character Country code
LL is a two-character Location code bbb is a three-character Branch
code (becoming less prevalent with centralization of operations or data centres at banks)
Another component of a SWIFT message standard is a currency code. These are used extensively in accordance with ISO standards. For
example, the more common currency codes are: AED for UAE Dirham, CHF for Swiss Franc, CNY for Chinese Renminbi (Yuan), EUR for Euro, GBP for British Pound, and so on. These currency codes are also easily available online. Apart from the SWIFT BIC codes and the currency codes, SWIFT has done a tremendous job in developing standardised Message Text (MT) types. These messages support the business transactions of SWIFT users covering various types of bank transactions. These are:
SWIFT facilitates international payments, but it is not a payment, clearing or settlement system. It is also increasingly serving as a standards organisation.
Customer payments and cheques (MT 103- Customer Transfer)
Treasury markets- foreign exchange, money markets and derivatives
Financial institution (bank-to-bank) transfers
Collection and cash letters
Documentary credits and guarantees
Treasury markets- precious metals and syndications
Cash management and customer status (balance and transaction reporting).
Now you can see what the bank means when it says it is waiting for the SWIFT MT-103 before crediting the funds into your account. It is the MT103 Message Text from the remitting (your customerâ€™s) bank which has not yet been received (sighted) by your bank! In line with a shift to the web-based
world and to cater to the increasing demands of its members, SWIFT has also developed XML-based Messages (MX) which serve to complement the traditional MT messages. These messages also enable the transfer of richer data for more complex business transactions and are ISO 20022 compliant. 53
End-of-service benefits: Change is afoot! Risk
Business risk Credit risk Operational risk Reputational risk
Funding gratuity liability
Richard Taylor and Rupert Connor comment on upcoming changes in gratuity schemes and their implications for businesses.
usinesses operating in the UAE are very familiar with the end-of-service benefit scheme known as gratuity, from which expatriate workers have benefited for the last 40 years. Upon termination of employment, employees
from cash flow
receive a lump sum calculated on the length of their salary and contract. This is the practice throughout the Middle East, although it does differ slightly from country to country. For example, Saudi Arabia has no limit on the amount that can be received while the UAE limits pay-outs to the equivalent of two yearsâ€™ salary.Â As with everything, the current system has its positives and negatives, but it does look as if the winds of change are blowing. Letâ€™s just take a quick look at some of the changes that have been thrust upon businesses in recent years: Pre-2008 when business was booming, the Emiratisation policy was introduced. In 2009 as we slid into recession the Wage Protection System (WPS) was introduced. In 2010 as we started to emerge from the recession, there was a relaxation of the NOC and Visa rules. In 2011, increased corporate governance was on the agenda. In 2011/12, the Dubai Department of Economic Development announced they are looking into a universal pension scheme for workers. So clearly, change is on the agenda and this only looks set to continue, with the last development mentioned likely to have the most impact on gratuity legislation in the future (a pension scheme would replace the current system). Coupled with this, the government is starting to focus on and enforce the existing
Rupert Connor and Richard Taylor are independent financial advisors with Acuma Wealth Management. As qualified advisors in the region, they help expats get their finances in order, and maximise the financial opportunities available offshore and plan for future events.
gratuity rules. There have been several recent court cases where former employees have questioned their gratuity entitlement and the courts have always sided with the employees. In one case it led to the court awarding the ex-employee US$3 million. UAE law does not stipulate that businesses have to make separate provision for their gratuity liabilities, which can be very significant, and as a result most businesses fund it out of working capital. It is interesting that making separate provision for end-of-service liabilities is an international accounting standard and is mandatory in many jurisdictions. We wouldn’t be surprised if that is the case here before too long. Not funding your gratuity liability is a big risk to your business and funding from cash flow should not be seen as a viable solution. Businesses continue to grow and recruit new employees, and existing employees extend their length of service so the liability will continually increase. So we know the government is strictly enforcing the current
legislation, we know they are looking at alternative systems (i.e. a universal pension scheme) and we know that funding your gratuity liability from your working capital isn’t the best strategy for your business. But what’s the alternative? Group savings accounts Gratuity liabilities should be appropriately funded and ring-fenced to protect both your company and your employees from these risks. By creating a separate account investing in a range of assets you could reduce your risk exposure and allow your company to concentrate on growing profitability. A gratuity account keeps your payments ring-fenced and separate from the rest of your business. It can be managed as part of a group savings account, with any additional savings made by the employer and/or employee also being kept separate. This enables you to invest in a balanced portfolio of funds that matches your company’s gratuity funding investment strategy, and helps to mitigate the potential impact of stock
Below are some of the main risks associated with funding your gratuity liability from cash flow:
Market risk: When markets are depressed and you need to reassess the number of people your business needs, this is when your gratuity liability is at its worst. Business risk : Using your cash flow allows no safety net during the bad times. Credit risk: By using money from within your business to fund your gratuity liabilities, your ability to pay your employees at end of service may be dependent on your creditors paying you. Legal risk: The number of court cases against employers not fulfilling their obligations is growing. This could lead to your business losing it license to operate. Operational risk: The risk of not providing this important employee benefit could mean that valuable opportunities to attract and retain loyal and productive staff could be lost. Reputational risk: The operational risk mentioned above could lead to your company being benchmarked below that of your competitors.
market volatility. Many employers have found that this has the potential to become self-funding. Employers may elect to pay regular or single premiums and use the proceeds to pay their liability when an individual member leaves service. Depending on the scheme set-up it may be possible to use excess fund for the benefit of that employee. The employer retains full control over all accounts and investment decisions. Employee benef it Furthermore, this arrangement can enhance the benefits you offer to your employees and aid your recruitment and retention of key talent. Studies show that 67 per cent of employers who have implemented such schemes to fund their gratuity liability agreed that it facilitated employee retention and loyalty, with 66 per cent agreeing that this system had led to an increase in employee motivation and productivity. Change to gratuity legislation is surely coming, with the most likely outcome being a compulsory worker pension scheme. Employers can either wait for it to be forced on them, have no say in the structure of the scheme and forego any of the additional employee satisfaction benefits (it has been shown that employees respond far better to an improvement in their benefits that was taken as a voluntary as opposed to mandatory decision by their employer), or they can take matters into their own hands now and implement a scheme that suits them and extracts maximum employee satisfaction. And just as crucially, implementing such a scheme is sound financial management of your business, much more so than funding an unknown, but potentially significant, gratuity liability from your working capital. 55
How to find gold in your office?
Business leaders can break barriers with their team by nurturing and encouraging success, writes Michael Tolan.
ith the 2012 Olympics still lingering in the minds of so many of us, it’s not difficult for us to imagine the dedication, hard work and sacrifices that were made by so many athletes just to have a rare chance at grabbing a precious medal for their country. It’s interesting that every four years the eyes of the world are on the competitors, who in fact are the performers, whose challenge is to break barriers. This is the name of the game, to do better, be better and to become the best. Yet, many of the tired and weary are forgotten instantly for their heroic efforts, having walked or limped away 56
without the prize, dreams fading of that one ounce shiny token tied to a ribbon, marking their holder’s achievements for eternity. World records have always been challenged in these events, as someone new steps up to defeat what was considered to be the best timings or score possible to be made by a human being. Breaking barriers. It is no small wonder that, the 2012
Olympics were no different and that events 100 years from now will attract new barrier breakers. The unthinkable, the impossible, become miracles at first, exhilarating moments, and then accepted as possibilities and finally common knowledge and fact. Spectacular feats of courage are shining examples of the human ‘strength of spirit’ that sets our imaginations alight, speaking to us all in one common voice, in one language, the language of possibilities and excellence coated in perspiration, the trademark branding of hard work. We therefore find ourselves spectators, bound to each other’s humanity and celebrate each victorious broken barrier as our own, witnessing the impossible as it manifests itself into the ‘possible’ before our very eyes. As the dust settles, and the winners head home, we all go back to our lives and quickly disconnect from the union we held so firmly in appreciating the art of human achievement during
Michael J Tolan is senior consultant for Potential.com, an organization that develops excellence practices, provides coaching and training to SMEs in the Middle East and North Africa region. He is also the head of the Leadership Academy for Excellence within the Potential Group.
the games. So what can leaders in the business world take away from the ‘greatest show on earth of possibilities’? Breaking barriers. For a start, examine the basic pay structure of each athlete? According to Olympic rules, they should be amateurs, which, ipso facto means, they are not driven to action by monetary rewards. How about their job description? “ Your job is to do better than anyone in the history of sport has ever done in order to get the gold,” seems to almost sum up the role. So why do athletes compete? Why do they dream to become part of an Olympic team, sacrifice and overcome so many boundaries for no money and take up the quest to accomplish what many would consider an almost impossible task? Leaders today can be reminded that the human spirit is just that, a spirit, motivated to greatness by aspirations of becoming the best, recognised as a champion by their country or peers, respected as someone who is ‘an example’ to be followed. Companies that realise these significant truths, that remember these fundamental basics that glow in the hearts of everyone who has ever been praised for their performance, will also break barriers. In fact, they will discover the real gold mines are hidden within the very people around them. People fundamentally want to perform well, and they want to win. The medals that companies offer that are over and above a paycheck will determine the amount of excellence within their ranks, and very often the companies’ loyalty quotient. Team members within organisations can be brought out of a mundane haze that places them into
The medals that companies offer that are over and above a paycheck will determine the amount of excellence within their ranks, and very often the companies’ loyalty quotient.
a daily rut. Creating the race track of excellence is one of those secrets. They should be powered by the right recognition schemes and nurturing management. Management and leaders who understand the importance of polishing personal esteem by allowing growth creates energy of alchemy within the organisation. When leadership at the helm of a company realise and recognise that a glass of water instead of a whip will get more authentic effort and appreciation out of its rowers, their ship will sail boundlessly into new uncharted waters. Nurturing, measuring, announcing and praising internal achievements in people within the ranks of teams driving the organisation is the new magical ‘neuro-fuel’ that costs next to nothing, and yet its ROI is huge. The corporate business race run by SMEs is a daily, minute-by-minute challenge very often uphill. Set the vision and mission for the team. Give them all a big enough reason to run their best race, everyday. Measure successes and be boisterous in praising successes along the way. Remember, every sunrise is a new day of opportunity to grab the medals of success. Keep in mind you are cultivating champions who hopefully will run the longest marathon of all, their careers, with you. Give them the chance to win their own gold medals with your own excellence awareness scheme. Keep it authentic and genuine. Nurture the learning and development opportunities of your team and give them the chance to turn the impossible barriers into their own personal career victories, so that they can proudly and confidently feel and say, while wearing your logo, “I’m Possible too!” Golden moments, priceless. 57
Stamp out negativity fast!! Anesh Jagtiani makes a case in point on the power of positive thinking.
ou’ve probably heard that one of the most common practices of successful people is positive thinking. But how easy is it to really make this a practice in your life? Sure, you’ve probably had good days where you could keep your thoughts positive and empowering. But what about those days when it just seems that nothing is going right and you can’t seem to keep the flies of negative thought from ruining your picnic? If you’re curious about the solution to this dilemma, this simple yet powerful strategy might be just what you’re looking for. Reframing your thoughts The first key to stamping out negative thoughts fast is to accept that your thoughts not only influence your actions, but that they are also influenced by the actions which you take in response to them. In other words, when you allow fear to influence you to act fearfully, that fear is only going to grow more and more powerful. But if you refuse to allow fear to influence you to fearful actions, and if you choose acts of courage instead, you’ll find that your fear will take on a context: excitement. Think about this: biologically, the differences between fear and excitement aren’t any different. They both cause accelerated heartbeat, rapid breathing and a heightening of your physical senses. There is an enormous difference in the frame of mind that accompanies fear and that which accompanies excitement, and that frame of mind is influenced by your experiences. For example, if you fear rejection and choose to retreat into the privacy of your own thoughts, you’re only reinforcing what you fear through what psychologists call “self-rejection.”
Have you ever changed your mind about something?
Anesh Jagtiani is the CEO of Empowering Leaders Group (M. E). He is a professional speaker and trainer. His leadership programme helps managers motivate and retain their top people, improve their effectiveness in communication and maximise the bottom line of companies. He is also a TV anchor of a show called TOP GUNS on ZEE TV where he has interviewed the 12 most successful Indian entrepreneurs of UAE. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.elgme.com
On the other hand, you choose to act in courage by either approaching that prospect, or speaking to that member of the opposite sex who you’re afraid of being rejected by, you give that fear a new context. And the more persistent you are in confronting your fear with acts of courage, the less like fear it will seem, and the more excitement you’ll feel. This is the fastest and most effective way to stamp out “negative” thoughts. Now, in case you’re thinking that this sounds way too simple to be true... Making the switch Have you ever changed your mind about something? Of course you have...but what really changed? Most likely it wasn’t your mind; it was your actions...and those actions changed because your priorities changed. In other words, you decided that a new action was more important than your original action.This is exactly the key
to reframing your thoughts by taking new and empowering actions. The next time you’re overwhelmed by worry or fear, or any other kind of negative thought, ask yourself this: “What action is this negative thought keeping me from taking?” If the action is stupid or if you don’t have it planned out, then your “negative” thought might be completely valid. It might be telling you that you need to develop a more solid plan of action. But if the action is something which would be beneficial to you or someone you care about, redirect your focus to what’s really important. Your thoughts and emotions are influenced by what you focus on, and the more you focus on what’s important to you, the less thoughts and feelings of fear and worry will hinder you from taking positive action. You’ll also be more empowered to confront your negative thoughts with acts of courage, and those actions will reframe your thoughts.
TIP The next time that you have a “negative” thought, stop and think about what that thought might be trying to tell you. Most often, once you discover the source of your negative thoughts, they lose their power to influence you. But if you keep trying to bury them, you’ll miss the insight that they hold, and the more persistent they’ll become. What you resist will persist.
THOSE WHO MADE A MARK.
From pom-poms to jewellery design Intelligent SME spoke to Helen Kay, owner of Helen Kay Gifts on her journey of entrepreneurship. ISME: How did Helen Kay Gifts come into being?
HK: The reason I took up the idea of
Helen Kay Gifts and gave it shape was because it was a hobby for my children and I wanted them to have something of their own. Being UAE citizens, we have the opportunity of applying for an Intelaq licence, where one can carry on a trade in the comfort of one’s home. I then joined the artisans at Arte Dubai in June 2011. I had made pom-pom kits for children learning to make pom-poms. The summer was coming, the kids were finishing school, and I didn’t want them to spend so much time in front of the television. I thought I should start doing something, something to do with jewellery or so, just as a hobby for the children. But then we got so good at it that eventually I sold my car and gold to raise funds for this business, because I wanted to enter a business. I bought cabinets, stock, and applied for the Intelaq licence, printed roll-ups, flyers and my website and other marketing material with the help of my friend Gina who owns Gemah Solutions. I wasn’t comfortable working with a male web designer and I’m lucky to have found Gina who has been designing websites for her clients. The initial investment I would say was, close to AED30000- AED50000 to set up the business. It all began with simple jewellery, and we slowly diversified to prayer beads, spectacle
It would be great if we were given additional financial support during the initial years of setting up. But on the other hand, I know that I have started this from scratch by myself and this gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Women Entrepreneurs HK: This business of mine is very
holders and bookmarks and key chains. It was a struggle to go to potential clients who would stock my products. I often walked into various malls with a trolley! But in the end it paid off, because I got my first client Books Plus, which houses my products in five of their outlets.
ISME: Where do you source your
HK: I source all my material from
Dubai. I have my part to play, as an entrepreneur, towards contributing to the economy of the emirate. It’s very rare that I do not get what I want in the local market.
ISME: Since it’s been a year,
can you mention the positive and negative moments of your entrepreneurial journey?
therapeutic. If you have a very stressful life, this is definitely the way to go. I enjoy it when people select my creations, and when I see them using the products. Sometimes when I get a large order then it is a bit of a challenge because then I need the extra help and I have to round up my children. It would be great if we were given additional financial support during the initial years of setting up. But on the other hand, I know that I have started this from scratch by myself and this gives me a lot of satisfaction. Of course, winning the Brand Creativity contest organised by Business Village and Dubai SME was a positive moment as well. It has been a struggle, but it was worth it, because I like being independent. I also took this up because I wanted my children to understand the importance of being independent and perseverance. I want them to know that not everything is going to come to us in a silver platter.
ISME: Do you have any future plans? HK: I’m starting a workshop for
students in September, to teach them my craft. They have something to fall back on and will help them in the future. My future plan is to open up a store and then expand slowly to six shops; one shop for each of my children. I also make baby baskets for first-time mothers. But at the present time it is on the back burner because I don’t get enough time from my jewellery business. On National Day, I display many of my pieces at fairs and exhibitions. I recently displayed my pieces at the Princess Haya Bint Hussein Islamic Centre during the month of Ramadan. Last year I supplied my creations in 12 petrol stations around Dubai on the occasion of National Day.
ISME: How do you deal with the competition in your industry?
ISME: Where do you distribute your products?
Having said that, you can’t make people come to your shop and force them to buy. It doesn’t work that way. You see, a major part of selling is customer service. Always be polite to your customers, no matter how demanding they are, because they are your bread and butter. In the last year, I have built up a regular clientele who keep returning, and actually look for me, which is very encouraging.
and Book Plus. I sell some of my products to other companies. But there’s more to be done- I would like to have my pieces in the Dubai Mall aquarium. I had record sales last month, because the students and teachers purchased them as gifts. I go to Arte Dubai and I sell no end of my sets there. My biggest sellers are, in fact, the bookmarks, which I make with cut stones.
HK: Competition is always around.
HK: I distribute to the Dolphinarium,
Making SEO Olympics-worthy
Many businesses are missing out on a surge of potential customers brought to London by the Olympics because they have paid little attention to their rankings in internet searches. James Reynolds explains how businesses from London to Dubai can optimise their site and attract a wealth of additional business.
s London sees the arrival of the Olympics, local businesses have been battling for customers from the extra tourism the games bring. It is expected that there will be around 260,000 extra visitors in London for the 2012 Olympic Games, compared to the same period last year, meaning a total of around 570,000 total visitors. Many of these tourists will be leaving the guidebooks at home, and opting instead to use the internet to search for everything they need to know about the capital. According to Google Insights, sharp rises in searches for phrases such as ‘London restaurants Olympic Park’, ‘Olympic shopping’ and ‘London cinemas’ have been seen since visitors began flocking to the city. Those businesses who rank highly in such searches will be seeing extra traffic to their sites, and hopefully turning that into extra custom. Mobile internet usage has increased exponentially in the last few years, thanks to cheaper and easy-to-use technology. In the UK for instance, according to the Office for National Statistics, 45 per cent of internet users accessed the internet through their phone in 2011, a staggering increase from 31 per cent in 2010. This is likely to increase much further. Mobile technology also means they are accessing information about London and the Olympics in a way that far differs from previous games, when they might have relied on guidebooks and printed tourist literature. Many
James Reynolds is the CEO of SEO Sherpa, a Dubai-based company that offers SEO services. He has achieved considerable success in the field of internet marketing as a consultant and speaker. Already considered by some as an internet marketing expert he has spoken at leading internet marketing events alongside industry leaders including Paul Lemberg, Dean Hunt, Stan Dahl, Simon Leung, Raymond Aaron, Rosalind Gardner and more. Visit James at http://www.seosherpa.com
businesses now realise there has never been a greater need for a quality website that is easily picked up by search engines, and have brought in the assistance of an SEO service agency to ensure their site is picked up by Google and other search engines. There are strategies for businesses hoping to attract extra customers from an influx of tourists or visitors for special events, such as conferences, sporting or cultural events (of which we have many in Dubai) in their own town or city. In order to attract prospects to your site via the search engines you must first understand what your potential customers are searching for online. Google publishes search data which details the number of people searching specific key phrases and you can use this data to identify the most highly searched phrases relating to your product or service. Once you have picked the most valuable phrases you should then ensure your site is optimised for those terms. Contrary to popular belief, you should not ‘stuff’ your site full of key phrases, in an attempt to make your site more relevant to the search engines. Google (as well as Yahoo and Bing) will, in fact, penalise you for over optimisation if you try tactics like this. If you include one instance of the key phrases you want to rank for in the title of your website and then create
valuable content on your site relating to those phrases you will be off to a good start. It’s then up to Google to determine whether your site is more valuable than your competitors. They will place the most valuable site at the top of the results. Google’s search algorithm measures over 200 different ranking factors when determining which websites appear where in the search results. Whilst Google does not publish details of how their algorithm works, this is not important to achieve a high search engine position. Complications Many people over complicate SEO and get caught up in the latest tricks and tactics to beat the search engines at their own game. When you understand what Google wants; and that is to place at the top of the rankings the most relevant, popular and valuable results, the latest tactics really don’t matter. The same things work today as they did ten years ago; place valuable content on your site relating to the keyphrases you want to rank for and then promote that content with more quality content placed on other peoples websites. It is widely understood that Google gives much consideration to the quality and number of websites linking to a web property when determining where a website will appear in the search results. If a website is frequently linked to, or referenced in social media posts this is a strong indication to search engines like Google that the site is good. Those businesses that have utilised SEO and secured a top spot on Google will be enjoying up to four times more traffic than their nearest rival. With over half a million visitors flocking to London those businesses are set to experience unprecedented profit. 65
Let’s get social Have a question about social media and promoting your business online? UAE-based social media consultant and award-winning marketing strategist Farrukh Naeem answers your queries on using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, AdWords, SEO and any other online services. Send your questions to email@example.com Q. I have a Facebook page with many fans. But my posts don’t seem to be reaching them all. What can I do? A. Facebook posts don’t reach all the fans of your page.
Sometimes, less than 10 percent of your Facebook fans may see your page update. Facebook has introduced the ability to promote individual posts of your Facebook page within three days of posting to help you reach your fans- one update at a time. The ‘Promoted Posts’ feature is available to pages with more than 400 fans.
The most powerful advantage of a promoted post over traditional Facebook ads or sponsored stories is that while ads are shown in a little area on the right hand side- promoted posts appear inside the timeline of your fans. Also, when your fans interact with these posts- their friends see them too!
You can now boost engagement levels of your Facebook fans by promoting your posts and having them show up on your fans and their friends’ timelines for as little as US $5-US$10.
A new button with the words ‘Promote’ is now shown on the eligible Facebook pages when you make a post. Clicking on that button shows you the options for promoting that particular post. Facebook gives you pre-determined budgets ranging from US$5 to US$100 and more- depending on how many fans your page has.
While promoted posts are also subject to approvals, usually the promoted posts start running as soon as you have set up the promotion and saved it. Posts older than 3 days are not eligible for this feature.
Promoted posts enjoy a higher visibility as they show up inside the timeline of your fans- the most valued real estate on Facebook. The story in the timeline appears with the words ‘Sponsored’ identifying it as a promoted post by an advertiser
With promoted posts, you can make your posts reach more of your fans and their friends (social proof). Also, you can look forward to higher engagement levels of your page, which further pushes up its chances of more posts showing up in fans’ timelines.
Digital Marketing Farrukh Naeem is a digital strategist and social media consultant based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. His marketing blog (copywriterjournalist.com) has a readership across 140 countries and his tweets (@farrukhnaeem) are followed by more than 11000 people worldwide. Farrukh helps SMEs and individuals build and grow their influence online using social media and online marketing.
Promoting your Facebook page posts can bring in instant and measureable ROI, with results of the promotion accessible from right under the post in the ‘Promote’ button dropdown menu.
The ability to promote posts can be powerfully combined with the location and language targeting feature of Facebook, also available on a per post basis to engage market segments, run targeted promotions and reach a multilingual audience more effectively. Useful Links: 1. Facebook’s Promoted Post FAQs: http://on.fb.me/NLD2ck 2. 4 Critical Things to Know Before You Promote Your Posts: http://bit.ly/OHS96m 3. 3 Strategies for Using Promoted Posts: http://bit.ly/ NLDRBX
Q. I get overwhelmed and lost with Twitter. If I follow too many people, my timeline gets filled with all kinds of tweets. If I don’t follow, I can’t keep a track of the tweets I want to see. What do I do? A. Twitter has a highly potent yet mostly underutilized
feature called ‘Lists’. Most users are aware of the feature, but few know how to use it well. You can follow tweets by brands and people without the need to ‘follow’ them with lists. You can access the Lists feature on Twitter through the drop down menu on the right hand side navigation panel.
Twitter lists help you separate the tweets you wish to follow or keep track of by listing similar Twitter users under lists that you create. Once you have created a list based on themes you choose, you can add Twitter users to your lists. It’s easy to create a list of people you would like to see tweets from- you can make a private or public list on Twitter.
A list can be public or private, has its own URL, and it lets you see tweets in real time only from the people who are in the list. You can subscribe to public lists created and curated by others- thus saving a lot of time hunting for people in a particular industry or interest area. When you click on a user’s name in your Twitter stream, a pop-up box of their profile opens up- also having the option to add them to a list. You can also add people to a list directly from their profile.
To add a Twitter user to your list, you can click over their profile options in your Twitter stream or from their Twitter profile page.
You can create Twitter lists to monitor competition without the need to follow them back. Businesses maintain Twitter lists of their staff which can be shared with their customers. A list of media contacts (that can be kept private if needed) can be used to reach out to the press when you have a media campaign on the horizon.With more and more decision makers, influencers and reporters frequenting Twitter and building relationships on this hard-to-crack yet powerful platform, lists can give your business a secret advantage over competition- at no extra cost. Useful Links: 1. Twitter’s Official Guide to Using Lists: http://bit.ly/ RcYrfm 2. How to Market Your Business with Twitter Lists: http://bit. ly/PoFlwn”http://bit.ly/PoFlwn 3. A Twitter List of UAE Journalists and Media Professionals: http://bit.ly/PBgXbi”http://bit.ly/PBgXbi 67
Yogesh Mehta make
Petrochem Middle East
a huge success?
Stay tuned. October 10, 2012.
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Knowledge Series Seminar
Plan your companyâ€™s success
A talk on corporate governance and succession planning
Date: June 27, 2012 Venue: Room No.13, 2nd floor, B Block, Business Village, Deira. The speakers of the talk were Alec Aaltonen, program manager, Hawkamah Institute of Corporate Governance, and Ekta Kaur, a solicitor working with The Wills Specialists.
The first session revolved around the nine pillars of the corporate governance code structured by Hawkamah for Dubai SME. SME heads and decision makers were given information on how to go about introducing corporate governance in their respective companies.
The second session instructed attendees on succession planning and how important this is for SME owners. The talk also mentioned a few salient points of Shariâ€™ah law.
The Intelligent SME Celebration Series recently organised the launch of famed comedian Nitin Mirani’s new brand titled ‘Laugh Your Assets Off’ at Business Village.
A show held as part of the Comic Relief stand-up comedy performances, ‘Laugh Your Assets Off’ caters to the corporate world as an antidote to stressful work schedules.
Mirani is one of the pioneers of the Middle Eastern comedy circuit that began six years ago, and the founder of Komic Sutra. He gave a riveting performance for business owners and decision makers.
The event was sponsored by Intelligent SME corporate partners Du and RAK Bank, strategic alliance partner Dubai SME, alliance partners Western Union Business Solutions and Al Nabooda Insurance Brokers and printing partners Gulf Technical Printing Press.
Artistes Ismail Salehi, Lamya Tawfik, Sheida, Mo Fetto and Salman Qureshi, were part of the show.
A stand-up Comedy Act
Date: June 21, 2012
Prizes sponsored by Dr.Martens were also awarded to four raffle draw winners.
Knowledge Series Seminar
Date: July 25, 2012 Venue: Room No.13, 2nd floor, B Block, Business Village, Deira. CSR is a powerful tool and concept for companies to use as they look to conduct business. It is also a strategy for developing the future market while strengthening economies, the marketplace, communities, and corporate organisations.
Senior Executive CSR Programs, Dubai Chamber Centre for Responsible Business
The talk centred around global issues, CSR- its origins and definition, key trends in CSR and the key components of CSR.
The Knowledge Series talk was preceded by a networking session and an Iftar, being the holy month of Ramadan.
Towards the end of the event, a raffle draw sponsored by Western Union, was held. The prize â€“ an iPad - was won by Stephanie Fisher, consultant, Strategic Creative, handed over by Kennie Gwu, marketing manager, Western Union Business Solutions MEA.
Networking opportunities Important business events across the globe 3RD MIDDLE EAST SME FORUM 2012 Date: 17 - 18 September 2012 Venue: Rocco Forte Hotel - Abu Dhabi
This forum will gather SME officials, entrepreneurs, banking personnel, government bodies and associations to discuss and understand aspects of SME initiatives, economical and financial role in SME growth and entrepreneurship perspective in the Middle East. Eminent speakers, relevant case studies and expert advisory panel discussions would be highlights of the conference, providing an opportunity for networking and enhancing the scope of the SME sector in the region. Website: www.fleminggulf. com/3rdsmeforum
POWER NIGERIA Date: September 18-20, 2012 Venue: Abuja International Conference Centre, Abuja - Nigeria The event will be a platform for the local Nigerian energy industry to meet leading international companies and it will provide the opportunity to network and open sales avenues to ultimately lead to development and investment in the region. The show will cover all sectors of the energy industry, such as power generation, transmission, distribution and alternative energy. Website: www.power-nigeria.com NETWORKING & FINANCING OPTIONS FOR SMES Date: September 24, 2012 Venue: Media Rotana, Tecom, Dubai
Finding and securing the right type of funding can be a challenge. Discover the different types of funding available and if they are suited to your needs in this informative presentation by Edward Roderick of Envestors MENA Ltd. Fees for the event is as follows: Early-bird online - Members: AED120, Non-members: AED150 (ends
September 21st); On the door (subject to availability) - Members: AED170, Non-members: AED200. Website: www.heelsanddeals.org INDEX 2012 Date: September 24-27, 2012 Venue: Dubai World Trade Centre
INDEX 2012 is delighted to continue the INDEX evolution by welcoming back six dedicated shows as well as introducing five new product sectors. It is also a platform for promoting and sharing new trends and innovation with the architecture and design communities. Website: www.indexexhibition.com SEAFOOD EXPO 2012 Date: September 25-27, 2012 Venue: Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek
An international Exhibition on seafood, seafood processing, packaging and distribution technology, equipment and supply, is the only specialised event in the Middle East for seafood and seafood processing industry. It is an opportunity for your company to network with over 8,000 seafood industry professionals. Website: www.dubaiseafoodexpo.com PAPER ARABIA 2012 Date: October 1-3, 2012 Venue: Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre
Paper Arabia features a broad range of Industry suppliers who want to reach the largest gathering of decision making professionals in the Middle East. Website: www.paperarabia.com PRIVATE LABEL MIDDLE EAST Date: October 1-3, 2012 Venue: Dubai World Trade Centre PLME has a proven track record in attracting buyers at the very highest
level: senior decision-makers in retail, leisure, travel, import and export, and industry professionals from a wide cross-section of product and service categories. Website: www.privatelabelmiddleeast. com TELECOMS WORLD MIDDLE EAST Date: October 2-3, 2012 Venue: Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai
Discuss tools and strategy to help navigate through the changing landscape of the increasingly competitive telecoms industry. The event will be framed with morning and afternoon keynote plenary sessions, making sure the hard hitting issues are debated by game changers and decision makers in the telecom industry. Website: www.terrapinn.com MASTERMIND PINK TANK Date: October 8, 2012 Venue: Conference Centre, Media Rotana, Tecom, Dubai
Members will be divided up into appropriate groups of up to 6 and will be guided by a facilitator during the 2 hour program. The Mastermind Pink Tank provides our members with a freewheeling environment in which everyone will participate. The investment is AED150, and the event is for members only. Pre-registration is essential before October 14, 2012. Website: www.heelsanddeals.org GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK Date: October 14-18, 2012 Venue: Dubai World Trade Centre
GITEX is the ICT business gateway to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia Region. Focused on providing exhibitors with high ROI through direct business opportunities with decision makers, GITEX has maintained its position as the industry’s trend setting authority. Website: www.gitex.com 81
Get bigger with banking
Utpal Bhattacharya urges small businesses to use the facilities available with banks to make it to the bigger league of companies.
anking has, in the recent past, apparently become terribly complex. Bankers of today are not only a very cautious lot, but somewhat afraid to take on anything new. They would rather deal with what they have and know, and keep praying that these businesses do not fail. And yet, can you accuse these bankers of lack of enterprise? What with all the accusations that have been doing the rounds about some of the top banks in the world not having complied with the rules of the book; there are serious allegations of money laundering and negligence. We are living in difficult times, and bankers are the first people for politicians to blame for all the difficulties that the world is currently going through. Of course it does not serve the purpose, even if it helps politicians to avert the gaze of the angry public for the time being, as the banking industry increasingly finds itself unable to do business even with genuine parties. Recently, I was at a small gathering of bankers, and one of the topics of discussion was compliance. There was this banker who was confessing that less than five per cent of the total account opening applications for business or corporate banking in his bank, in the month June, got approved. The rest of the applicants were denied a “simple” business account on
If a very small business has a yearly turnover of AED12 million, there are banks that will support them to grow with credit facilities various grounds. I cannot confirm this statement, and I am guessing that it is most likely an exaggeration. However, it has got me thinking that if this is an indication of what’s to come in the future, then small businesses will find it even harder to get capital to keep going, forget expansion. From a point of view of a business owner, especially an SME, these developments in the banking industry do not augur well, unless one finds a way to use the system to one’s advantage. There is no shortcut of course, as I found out with one business owner last week when he claimed that he had met the “chief” of a bank, and had been promised the moon. At the time of writing this article, he was just beginning the battle with his KYCs at the junior relationship manager level: international banks are increasingly tightening banking procedures, and are institutionalising the processes, so that there are no lapses in compliance. Promises from bankers may not help
much in the future, but proper care taken to comply will certainly help. This is the reason why it has become absolutely vital for small businesses to understand banking, in fact study the system, or at least take help to use the system to their benefit. For example, if a very small business has a yearly turnover of AED12 million, there are banks that will support them to grow with credit facilities. However, owners of these companies have to be aware of the opportunities that they have with the banking industry, and should be able to do basic credit proposals that would excite bankers. If they are unable to do credit proposals, then they should look out for consultants who will help them in doing these. The long and short of it is that while banking has changed over the years, the basic objective of banking for businesses has remained the same, as without banks small businesses cannot grow to become large businesses. There would be hardly any examples of companies making it big without bank funding. I have not come across any large business that has attained its standing on its own equity, but mostly these have been able to use the banking industry to their advantage. You should also get down to organising your business, so that you are able to make the best out of your bank and achieve your goals.
Published on Aug 25, 2012
Published on Aug 25, 2012
Edition 9 of Intelligent SME magazine has a definite focus on SME finance, with the cover story on the Al Islami Business Online service by...