“Neither of us has a business management degree”: How two Emirati women started an art space

Emirati entrepreneurs
UAE nationals Alia Hussain Lootah (right) and Noora M Bin Kalban (remaining) share their journey of launching and developing a start-up.
Image Credit rating: Supplied


Emirati business people Alia Hussain Lootah and Noora M Bin Kalban share how they learnt key enterprise management techniques on the career these types of as economical planning, ebook-holding, accounting to taking care of functions, logistics and persons.

“Neither of us has a business administration diploma. We didn’t even know the fundamentals of finance administration till we started out working on our enterprise system for a community artwork space ‘Medaf Studio’. What we experienced was enthusiasm and a deep urge to plug a hole in the current market at the time (in 2017) with our commence-up by generating a place that specialises in multi-disciplinary art practices. Rest of it, from producing a business product to economical system, accounting, dollars circulation management we learnt all the things on the work,” the co-founders shared.

As their begin-up celebrates its fifth calendar year since inception this thirty day period, co-founders Alia and Noora spoke about how they have learnt key techniques these types of as mapping out and managing costs, negotiating pricing, creating the proper partnerships for the duration of this journey.

Did you receive fiscal and other support when placing up your business?

“A massive assistance arrived from Dubai SME (little and medium-sized enterprises) in the variety of a loan as a result of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund for SME. That accounted for 80 per cent of the money expected to start the company, when we set alongside one another the remaining 20 for each cent. We also bought our trade license at a subsidised amount. In addition, assistance from our families and tips from fellow entrepreneurs have been vital. Just one factor that we want to point out is the willingness of the UAE commence-up group to support initial-time founders like us, which was certainly encouraging.”

Medaf Studio
UAE nationals did not even know the basics of finance management right until they commenced doing the job on their business enterprise system for a group art house ‘Medaf Studio’.

What are some finance administration competencies that you the two learnt on the position?

“It’s one particular issue to have an idea but implementing it requires knowledge various aspects connected to operating the small business. Getting finance administration abilities was most likely our greatest finding out curve. We commenced out by executing a deep study-based [price] benchmarking of what was out there in our area regionally and globally to carve out our possess expense product. We also learnt the great importance of understanding and controlling funds movement. Paying rent and salaries, earning purchases and keeping monitor of income are all important for the survival of the business enterprise. We have created it a exercise to overview our automated hard cash flow statement as soon as a month or much more. We have also obtained capabilities this kind of as negotiating for a better deal. Due to the fact the globe is so linked, it is possible to locate something and anything at a decrease price tag. We have realised the relevance of expanding the provider foundation to get the finest value doable. In addition, by doing the groundwork on our personal this kind of as checking out the licensing companies we learnt a ton about the parts and costs of jogging a enterprise.”

Do you each just take a salary from your organization?

“While we have allotted salaries for ourselves, as an alternative of having it we have reinvested it in the enterprise. In addition to thoroughly arranging expenses, this is one particular of the big reasons why we broke even in a lot less than two years [by the beginning of 2019]. This also assisted us to secure, maintain and increase the organization. Right now our enterprise is self-sustaining as we plough back again at the very least 30 per cent of earnings from the enterprise into the business enterprise.”

It is a person detail to have an concept but utilizing it requires understanding different areas related to operating the company. Acquiring finance management capabilities was maybe our major mastering curve.

– Business people Alia and Noora

How important is it to keep track of paying out and allocate means in the direction of client acquisition?

“Since we had been to start with-time founders and resolved to enter a phase that we didn’t recognize pretty nicely at that time we were being really cautious about our investing styles. Like any other small business, looking at return on investment was vital but even extra vital was to scale up the business enterprise. By monitoring our paying out closely, we have been in a position to preserve our running fees low. Because we are a customer-going through company marketing is an vital area of expending. Originally, we didn’t devote a whole lot on marketing and relied on phrase of mouth but now we have increased our funds. Now internet marketing activities account for 7 for every cent to 10 per cent of our month to month costs. Importantly, we have deployed a cross system advertising and marketing tactic like social media functions, YouTube movies and podcasts, among the others to arrive at our audience as a result of their desired channel.”

Alia and Noora: “Since we had been initial-time founders and made the decision to enter a phase that we didn’t recognize incredibly perfectly at that time we were exceptionally cautious about our shelling out styles.”

Have you made any problems in the course of the previous five decades? What lessons have you learnt from them?

“Making problems is a person of the realities of any entrepreneurial journey. In the direction of the commencing of our journey, we collaborated with a different compact area business that ran a café in our room. Before long we saw that going through the struggles of remaining a tiny business they could not pay for their possess expenditures, often defaulting payments thanks to us. This experience taught us the significance of developing the appropriate and synergistic partnerships. Another detail that generally weighed us down in the original period of time was the lack of ability to foresee fees correctly. But above time we have learnt to categorise costs into distinctive brackets such as product sales, promoting, operations and so on to stability out outflow and program growth with more visibility.”

What tip would you the two present to initial-time founders?

“From our experience we can say that there are a lot of alternatives out there. We should obtain one that aligns with our passion and targets. It is also important to trust your gut if you really feel strongly adequate about an concept you should really carry out it. Really don’t stress out about obtaining every single element correct, it is possible to discover issues as you go. We learnt practically every thing on the occupation. In addition, don’t come to feel shy to ask people today [they could be family, friends, fellow entrepreneurs] for enable to fully grasp the small business landscape prior to diving in.”