As we move closer to a new digital-first era, the future represents a period of tremendous opportunity for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. With emerging technologies revolutionizing industries and driving demands for next-generation services, the tech world is an attractive proposition for young, innovative talent to pursue their ideas and bring fresh concepts to life.
Of course, embarking on any professional journey is by no means a simple feat and this is true for entrepreneurs seeking to break through and make a significant impact. For all the enthusiasm and creativity they can channel, we’re all too aware that obstacles to overcome inevitably present themselves. Acting on instinct alone, without experiences to fall back on when making decisions, is not always enough and advice from others will be priceless.
Our journey at CME from a startup with little more than four desks to a multinational firm has seen us encounter many learning curves along the way, and I want to share the essential lessons we accumulated during these 17 years with the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, to help them as they shape their own futures. Here are four:
For any young tech entrepreneur, a particular source of encouragement is to focus on the benefits that your projects can provide to the local community. Individual success aside, one of the most rewarding aspects of being an entrepreneur is helping others. When starting any business, it is important to have a dream that’s related to the community where you live, a dream to deliver positive change for the people around you.
Therefore, being mindful of the potential impacts that you can instigate is important. Always remember, a vision and roadmap for creating job opportunities, hiring talent, and boosting the local economy is paramount when setting up your own company. Regularly refer to what you set out to accomplish, and take steps to ensure related targets are met and surpassed.
Many factors will contribute to your success as an entrepreneur, and one of these is applying several characteristics simultaneously. Creativity isn’t enough on its own, and you should incorporate discipline into everything and ensure you don’t become too comfortable. A reoccurring trait in our field is people believing they’ve made it, which leads to missed opportunities and performance standards dropping. No matter how well things may be going, disruption can be encountered at any time, and overcoming issues is never easy. Striking a balance is essential, and you should channel your strengths while applying common sense and vigilance to ensure complete preparedness for any scenario.
That said, there is no room for complacency. Nobody should ever think “I’ve made it,” or assume that they’ve accomplished something, because disruption is extremely easy to encounter, and difficult to mitigate and overcome. For instance, you could wake up tomorrow with a new competitor on the scene.
To drive sustained development and scale greater heights, you should regularly reinvent yourself and the ideas you have. At the same time, bringing in likeminded people will only benefit your business. It is important to keep reinventing your ideas, yourselves, and your team. Because talent, creativity, and discipline are universal, the next disruptive technology may not emerge from an expected source.
Demonstrating willingness and delivering action in these areas is a sure formula for boosting your profile and reputation. MENA startups collectively attracted US$1 billion last year, with investment coming from local and international contributors due to the potential of projects and those at the forefront of them.
Leadership is also a key component for success. You should show care for those you work with, which will promote a culture of transparency and togetherness. Show care for the team you work with –not just who you serve– and take the time to ensure there is individual and collective happiness. By ensuring follow through on this advice, opportunities will present themselves, contributing to the evolution of you, your ideas, and your business.
Gaining deep domain expertise, which goes beyond the coding experience and technical aspects, is crucial. Why? Because today, tech solutions are much more than coding– it’s about understanding the business challenge and domain expertise before coding comes into play. Tech companies do not have to be in one geographical location– software can be delivered from anywhere in the world. If you have a laptop and a hardware device, possibilities are not limited, and you can do whatever you want.
The digital transformation unfolding across the region is shaping a future for up-and-coming tech entrepreneurs in which possibilities are endless. With guidance and advice from others, skillsets can be enhanced, confidence built, and decision-making developed, ultimately molding talent into the full package primed for business success. For all young tech entrepreneurs out there, these steps will help you along the way. Be mindful of them during every stage of your development, listen and learn from others at every opportunity, and embrace external support that will help you to achieve your dreams.
The MENA region is one the most digitally connected worldwide, and firms spent around $30 billion on digital transformation last year alone. Countries are pursuing innovative roadmaps to ensure a sustainable future, and years’ worth of reform has taken shape across many industries due to pandemic repercussions. The tech evolution is transpiring at the national and regional levels in different ways, meaning a host of opportunities lay ahead for young tech entrepreneurs.
It’s also important to note that the MENA region is not only home to an abundance of talent, but also the largest population of young people anywhere in the world. More than 50% of residents are under the age of 25, amounting to over 108 million. Among this talent pool are many budding entrepreneurs with endless promise and potential. Someone in the MENA region can become the world’s next key player in artificial intelligence. This is the best part of technology– and this is what continues to give us hope.
This article was published in Entrepreneur Middle East, on May 3rd, 2021.