Nama’s Tips for Entrepreneurs During COVID-19 Crisis
Entrepreneurship has remarkably flourished in Qatar over the past few years, and we have witnessed many successful projects founded by entrepreneurs in various sectors. Therefore, the growing enthusiasm of Qatari youth for entrepreneurship is not surprising.
The State of Qatar has invested enormous efforts over the past two decades to create an ideal environment that fully supports entrepreneurs. It enables them to turn their innovative ideas into thriving projects which provide solutions to existing challenges while achieving greater economic diversity for the country.
Several entrepreneurship-support organizations (ESOs) exist in Qatar. One of them is the Social Development Center “NAMA”, whose mandate is to build the capacity of entrepreneurial owners of small enterprises and microenterprises.
“NAMA seeks to qualify and empower the youth with new programs and innovative ideas. In line with the mission of the Qatar Foundation for Social Work, we contribute to expanding the opportunities available to youth, building their capacity, and empowering them in the State of Qatar. Our strategy places special importance on entrepreneurship, enhancing the knowledge and resources of the entrepreneurial owners of small enterprises and microenterprises in the 18-45 age group, enabling them to create and manage their own projects in a way that ensures growth and continuity,” said Mr. Hamad Jaafar Al-Saffar, Head of Entrepreneurship Programs at NAMA.
The services provided by the center for aspiring entrepreneurs include technical, financial, and promotional support, as well as business incubation, market access, training, and consultation. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many entrepreneurs and enterprise owners to incur losses. Consumer spending declined due to lockdown and strict preventive measures to control the virus. Many enterprises apply traditional techniques to sell their products or services. However, Mr. Al-Saffar believes that the entrepreneurial sector is well-positioned to survive the COVID-19 crisis and introduce groundbreaking solutions to overcome its unpleasant consequences. He expects that, with the likely hiring slowdown in the corporate sector, more and more youths will be willing to engage in entrepreneurship.
In his opinion, the government’s rapid response to the crisis substantially helped investors and entrepreneurs and raised confidence in the local economy. It proved to everyone that the government had a clear vision and strategy for the future in relation to economic policy. “From day one, Qatar has been working to cushion the impact on the economy,” said Mr. Al-Saffar. “In implementation of the directives of H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, as he chaired a meeting of the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management in March, a set of decisions were issued to back the private sector. One important decision was to instruct Qatar Central Bank (QCB) to outline a mechanism that encourages banks to postpone private-sector loan payments and liabilities, with a grace period of six months. Similarly, Qatar Development Bank (QDB) was directed to postpone installments for all borrowers for six months.”
Mr. Al-Saffar sends a message of advice to the entrepreneurs whose business was affected by COVID-19: “Do not wait until the crisis is over. No one knows when the pandemic will disappear. Start now! Evaluate your enterprise’s performance and reset your goals to bring it back to growth, or at least go through this emergency without heavy losses. Be realistic! Keep in mind that your project may not achieve the same results that you hoped for before COVID-19, especially in revenues. But this does not mean that you surrender. Continue to do your best, and develop new assumptions. Keep in touch with your clients as much as you can.”
The most important lesson learned by entrepreneurs from the crisis is to pay attention to digital trends, whatever the product or service they offer. Mr. Al-Saffar explains: “Digital transformation has become a necessity, and all enterprise owners have to embrace it. Digital transformation is not limited to using technology to offer your services or sell your products online. You have to make the most of technology in developing other aspects of your project, such as increasing productivity, improving staff performance, reducing costs, or ensuring a better customer experience. All of this will be beneficial to your project and make it better prepared for any future hurdles.”
7 Success Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
According to Mr. Al-Saffar, any person who wishes to enter the field of entrepreneurship must have ambition, strong self-confidence, and a clear perception of where they want to go.
They will also need to have negotiation and persuasion skills to address unfavorable situations that may arise. And this is not everything. Here are some valuable tips for those who desire to find their way as entrepreneurs.
Double Your Efforts
When starting up your business, you have to be fully aware that it requires a lot of effort. You will need to work until late at night, particularly during the early stages of establishment. Even after the launch, you may have to keep putting a lot of effort to face competition in the market.
Expect Every Outcome
You have to be ready to deal with all possible circumstances, good or bad, and know that great ideas should not necessarily get off the ground. Choosing entrepreneurship as your future profession means that you are autonomous and should undertake the responsibilities of managing your project and team, no matter what the outcome is. Face up to your commitment.
One of the biggest mistakes of new entrepreneurs is confining themselves to the project’s basic idea and being reluctant to change. You have to deal flexibly with the project’s idea, goals, and outcomes. Update your expectations and assumptions to cope with the market and requirements of the competition. Rewrite and reevaluate expectations on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Stay alert, and do not ignore other ideas that can fine-tune your project, even if it requires pursuing a different path away from the original one.
The most common issue for entrepreneurs is to produce new ideas that offer innovative solutions to existing challenges and, at the same time, appeals to investors. The suggested ideas are often mere repetitions because the global market has become more interconnected and expanded than ever before. Therefore, you have to spare no effort to come up with new and creative ideas from time to time, in order to push your way through the realm of entrepreneurship.
Work With Partners
You have to tap into all available options to ease the burdens of managing your project, even if it had not been planned before starting up. For example, look for partners with whom you can cooperate on your idea. There are always newcomers who would like to enter into the fray. You can also consider depending on freelancers.
Use Your Inexperience
Do not regard your lack of experience as a weakness. Rather, consider it an advantage over your competitors. It gives you more flexibility in learning and gaining knowledge. Many entrepreneurs have already used this to their advantage. They got their companies up and running with the knowledge acquired from trying and failing, trying and failing again and again, until they found the right equation for success, viability, and sustainability.
Learn From Others
Starting a business requires hard work, but do not let this discourage you, even if the competition is fierce and the probabilities of success are not high enough. Regardless of your project’s nature, you can learn a lot from the stories of entrepreneurs who have achieved success in similar fields. Draw on their experiences and avoid their mistakes as you embark on the journey toward building your own business.