British expat Adam Bradford, 29, sometimes describes himself as an “accidental entrepreneur”. However, the course of his life makes him rethink, because venturing into the business world was no accident in his case.
When at the age of 13, in high school in England, he received 125 Dh (25 GBP) as part of a competition that encouraged start-ups. He said: “From an early age, I had taught myself to use computers, to program them and to build them from scratch.
“Our school had just installed a new batch of equipment, and I set about creating programs such as quizzes, educational software and games to help teachers make their lessons more interactive. won numerous prizes in business competitions, and this experience has aroused in me a thirst for entrepreneurship.”
Years of “difficult” growth
Bradford found school difficult, mainly because he has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. He added: “I often found that I was alone and didn’t fit in with my peer group, and unless I was around things that comforted me, I felt very pressured. business seemed to provide me with an outlet, a way to pursue my passion and work at my own pace. In a way, it was therapeutic.”
Later in his teens, he was recruited to study at British TV show Dragons’ Den investor Peter Jones’ Enterprise Academy. He took a specialized course in entrepreneurship rather than going to university.
After graduation, he started working in the charitable sector, designing projects and programs that fund young people’s business ideas and working on international programs that encourage social enterprise start-ups.”
“For many years I have owned my consultancy firm, Adam Bradford Agency, which implements CSR (corporate social responsibility) and sustainability projects for businesses and assists educational and entrepreneurship programs that primarily focus on social impact businesses.”
What was your experience in starting a business in the UAE?
Bradford said starting a business in the UAE was a different experience than in the UK. “In my home country – England, you pay a fee to the company regulator to incorporate and open your company.
“However, in the United Arab Emirates, you should be aware that you will need to hire the specialized services of an agent to help you choose the right type of business and type of license. Before writing your business plan, you You will need to consider the differences between each when considering relocating to the area.These compliance expenses are, of course, separate from your usual start-up costs such as website, office space, business cards and marketing.
How did you fund your business?
Bradford had used his savings to invest in his company’s initial setup costs, such as visas, business licenses and set-up fees, to start operating the UAE branch.
“The main expenses were the business license and visas, appropriate insurance and professional consultancy services to help get started.
“Our license cost us approximately Dh36,731 ($10,000), including all visas, agent fees and other setup fees. I also moved here and rented short term while we set things up. This was funded by our previous trading profits.”
3 lessons Bradford learned from his entrepreneurial journey:
Bradford said starting a business is like venturing into the unknown. Even with the most comprehensive business plan in the world, you can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, he added.
Lesson 1: Know your strengths and be open to asking for help when needed
Bradford’s learning curves have been in his resilience to build strength and confidence. He said: “As an entrepreneur, I know my strength is in bringing others together, connecting the dots and having a vision for something new that others haven’t seen yet. I also know that I can’t do it alone, so when I take on a challenge, I ask for help or reach out to my network for strength.
“I respect and appreciate the diversity of the business world and know that we can always learn from each other. Mentors have been essential in my journey, especially other entrepreneurs who have been there and have done it. .”
He viewed collaboration as better than competition, saying there was no need to reinvent the wheel because everyone has something unique to offer in the economy.
“We love partnering with others to make a more meaningful impact. Additionally, support networks such as the British Business Group, a representative body of British businesses and individuals, have also helped me launch my vision and connect with the right stakeholders, enabling the business to thrive.
“Our job is to consult with clients, attend events and organize training sessions. The pandemic has helped us discover new ways of working, like webinars, digital mentoring, and training for our clients, and it’s also saved us thousands of dollars. »
Lesson 2: Triple check the affordability of projects and purchases.
Bradford witnessed times when money was a struggle, and those times taught him to value what he had. Never chase the money because your relationship with it could become toxic, he added.
“Some entrepreneurs become very money-focused, and for us, considering social impact is vital, and we prioritize the most meaningful impact with our work.”
He added that being careful with money and careful with expenses is also essential in business. “We watch our expenses. We have seen cases where entrepreneurs accept big contracts or increase their investments and quickly burn the money, which makes their business unsustainable and sometimes leads to bankruptcy.
“I always apply the principle of being able to pay for things three times as much to keep our financial planning realistic and safe. I have always learned to have enough space in our cash flow to spend what we need with enough reserves of If we want to spend 500 Dh, we should have at least an available budget of 1500 Dh.
“We haggle and negotiate when necessary, especially in new businesses where we want to protect our investment. Often, especially after COVID, we choose to use digital tools as much as possible to reduce costs and increase efficiency, such as digital project management, virtual instruments and teamwork facilities.
“There have been times when I have found myself without a salary for the company, but when you have accumulated savings to help cover costs, the position is much better and less stressful.
Lesson 3: Start loving your job and embrace teamwork.
Prior to starting the business, Bradford was a youth consultant to his local council, advising organizations and public sector bodies on how to engage with young people.
“We did a lot of work like market research, marketing campaigns and events to bring young people closer to their city. I learned a lot about interacting with diverse groups of people and the importance of have fun in everything you do.
“We were a diverse and expansive team of over ten young consultants with distinct personalities. Our backgrounds, including dealing with difficult issues and crime, education, healthcare, politics, etc., helped me to embrace teamwork.
“If you can live every day without wanting to work, I think you have the best job. I strive to make every day in our business like that,” he said.
What monetary values did you learn and acquire from your parents?
Bradford’s parents had a huge influence on his focus and career. He said his mother is an avid shopper with an eye for finding a good deal and her negotiation skills are second to none.
“Even today, I use this skill to help manage expenses. My mother constantly encourages us to save, to be diligent, and always reminds me of the value of respecting others’ opinions and being inclusive.”
Her father had a corporate career and was her sounding board for new ideas. He is an Honorary Member of the Bradford Society Board of Directors.
“As an accountant, my dad did a great job giving us budgeting tools from an early age, such as expense list, investment and savings planning.”