Keen on starting a business?
Here’s what you need to consider before stepping into the world of entrepreneurship
So, you’ve finally earned your degree and you’re contemplating your next move. While the norm would be to start applying for jobs, you could also consider becoming an entrepreneur by starting up your own business.
It’s not exactly a straightforward decision to make, especially if you’re wondering if your ideas are of any good, but according to Hayfa Abdulrahman Ahmed, Innovation Director at Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) Incubation Center, budding entrepreneurs should never be afraid of sharing their ideas.
“Sharing ideas will help evolve them into something great, thanks to useful input, so reach out to people who have gone through the same experience, seek their advice and approach supporting organizations for help and guidance,” she says.
According to Hayfa, programs such as QSTP’s XLR8 initiative, an acceleration program, help aspiring entrepreneurs at the idea stage to determine the commercial potential of their business ideas. “This three-month program provides intensive mentoring and training to develop a tech-based idea, and prepare the team for incubation,” she says.
Besides wondering on the feasibility of your idea, there are lots of other things to consider if the entrepreneurship route is for you, and you can start by asking yourself these questions:
Is there a gap in the market for what you want to offer?
You may feel that you specialize in something unique, but it’s still worth taking the time to make an assessment of the market. It won’t make any business sense to enter a saturated market, so spending some time on research will give you a chance to take a step back and make an evaluation on your approach. Don’t be disheartened though, because this could open up possibilities for you to create a unique product or service that others are not currently offering. And you will only know this by doing some research.
Are you familiar with the law?
There are a ton of things you will need to consider legally before setting up office. Everything from obtaining a license to establishing an office space needs to be thought about and adhered to accordingly. Get familiar with what is required before you put your plan in place. There are a few organizations in Qatar that can help you in this area, and more (see next page).
Do you need expert help?
Consider the type of experts you will need to help you run your business. An accountant, a lawyer, and a business administrator are just some examples of skilled manpower that you will probably need to look into.
Do you have a goal?
Create clear business goals for your venture if you haven’t already thought about it. You may create a plan that illustrates where you want to be and what goals you need to achieve by when. These are important for measuring growth and keeping your new company focused.
“Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. It is challenging our perception to things, and status quo. It is mainly about freedom in thinking, actions, and accepting failure and allowing for learning. It is about solving a problem that adds value to people in unconventional ways. This ends up to be a professional career for those who tend to build a legacy.”
– Nayef M. Al-Ibrahim, Founding Partner & CEO of ibTECHar
Where to go from here?
Whether you’re looking at raising funds to establish your company, or simply seeking help to kick-start your business idea, there are several organizations that can offer support. Here’s a look at some of them:
1. Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP)
QSTP, which is part of Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D), is a Free Zone, accelerator, and incubator hub for tech-product development in Qatar.
The QSTP Incubation Center is a technology-focused incubation program that assists with the establishment and growth of promising tech startups.
- They offer collaborative co-working space, business facilitation, and support services which include access to a network of mentors, funding programs, training, and prototyping facilities
- Incubation period is 12 months to help startups focus on developing a product or service, acquiring early customers, and raising funds
- They offer quick and affordable incorporation in the QSTP free zone
- One year of 100 percent subsidized co-working space and subsidized business support services
- Training, workshops and networking events as well as access to prototyping facilities, QSTP funding programs, mentors network and QSTP’s tenant network of high tech companies and R&D centers
For more information, log on to www.qstp.org.qa
2. Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC)
QBIC is a business incubation center founded by two leading entrepreneurship institutes in Qatar – Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and the Social Development Center (NAMA). QBIC provides support services to help entrepreneurs and companies who either have an idea to start a business or want to grow an existing business.
- The center runs a ten-week practical course (LeanStartup) on how to turn ideas into real businesses. At the end of the program, entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to judges and if successful, will qualify for incubation at QBIC
- Its support services follow your lifecycle as an entrepreneur from start to finish
- They provide space for incubatees to establish themselves and grow. They have a purpose-built factory that can accommodate office space of 150 businesses as well as 12 industrial workshops.
- They offer advice and opportunities for financing that are available at various points throughout the incubation process. Equity financing for startups are up to QAR300,000
- They also offer loans for scaleups, via QDB’s Al Dhameen initiative, up to the value of QAR4 million
- They also offer mentoring and coaching support throughout the various stages of incubation, from activation through acceleration, scaling, graduation and beyond.
For more information go to www.qbic.qa
3. Qatar Development Bank (QDB)
QDB provides entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) with a wide range of financial and advisory products under one roof. The bank offers, among others:
- Consultancy services at the concept stage (i.e. feasibility studies), start-up phase (i.e. contracts, patents and agreements), growth and development stage (i.e. auditing), and restructuring stage
- Attractive financing services covering all sectors except real estate, trading and hydrocarbon projects that range from direct loans and guarantee programs (Al Dhameen) to equity programs for SMEs
- Financial and banking solutions for export financing and insurance to take your business further
For more information, go to www.qdb.qa