Musings from Bahraini entrepreneur, design agency creative director and magazine editor, Wafa Alobaidat
I work in an office alongside six of my employees. On the same floor plan, there are no walls separating us and there are no dividers. Staying close to where the creative action happens keeps me humble and close to the root of our mission and vision. I don’t believe in isolating myself from my team, no matter how much we grow. Staying humble and keeping communication channels open are a key factor to our success.
I don’t think I have a sense of ownership towards my company per se. I’d like to think that, as a business owner, the brand should be shared with employees and customers. It has taken us a while to gain the trust of our clients and earning it makes us value our decision making process even more. When you realize that a decision you make can affect the people that have invested their time in you, it slows you down and forces you to make choices with caution.
Being on the ground, managing day to day operations, and attending meetings with potential clients no matter the size of the project also allows you, as an entrepreneur, to really listen to the needs of the customer and adapt your services or products accordingly.
Staying humble is key, especially as a start-up. People want to communicate with people they like and feel they can relate to and, as a team leader you should be able to act on the noise.
When things don’t go your way, it does feel like you’ve received a kick to the gut. But how to deal with each kick shows the level of humility one has. The mistake is to assume that no one would dare kick you; instead you have to expect it.
Keep the communication channels open with your customers and, most importantly, your work family. This is one of the most important factors to making it through the first few years of your start-up. The most valuable information is usually shared at staff meetings, where everyone is encouraged to come up with solutions to problems on how to make our customers' lives easier. Knowing who to listen to will help you skip over business casualties and power through.
Entrepreneurs and business owners should also create their own informal steering council. It is usually made up of a combination of individuals that are close friends, trusted family members, key staff employees, and partners who one could call on when facing an issue. The collective opinions offer an abundance of solutions that you can mix and match from to tackle arising challenges.
Wafa Alobaidat writes a bi-monthly column for Khaleejesque and muses on fashion, art, culture and culture shock in the Middle East. Wafa is also the editor of Sketchbook magazine and runs design and PR agency Obai and Hill.
To get in touch with Wafa, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @wafaobaidat