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Whilst working in the family business, the interviewee stated that he became aware of a niche that the business was not currently addressing. His first approach was to raise this within the existing business, they then encouraged him to explore the opportunity himself. He said that he felt ‘blessed’ to have such support. In terms of evaluating the potential more fully, Mr. Alhababi undertook local and regional market research using local contacts and written resource (library, newspapers etc. ).
His criteria was developing a business not requiring a large capital outlay or stock, since he did not have the level of investment required in order to follow that approach.
From his market research he developed a basic one year business plan, including profit and loss, sales targets, break even analysis and cash flow projections. He did not feel the need to go beyond one year projections initially. He developed the planning documents with the assistance of his father, since at that time he was not experienced enough to do this entirely on his own.
Mr. Alhababi explained that his father was his role model and very supportive.
He said that whilst it was not important for every entrepreneur, the support that was available to him from his family was invaluable. He felt that there are two types of entrepreneur, those that do it because of family support and those who do it because people say they can’t or that they will fail. From initial idea, through business research and planning and inception of the business he says took around six months.
He felt extremely motivated and determined and pushed things through as quickly as he was able. Once he had made the decision that this was what he wanted to do, he says there was no holding him back.
In the development stage the interviewee said that he was working as many hours as possible on the conception and planning of the new business. There were times when he worked through the night. Mr. Alhababi designed the business so that the capital outlay was as low as possible, the business relied more on his persuasive and selling techniques, the projects the new business undertook were self funding once sold. However, there were obviously some start up costs, these were more than expected and in order to cover them he took additional employment within one of the family businesses.
He says it was important to him not to borrow any money from his family and he did not want to borrow from the banks. A combination of additional employment and not paying himself for the work he was doing in the new company saw them through the start-up phase of the business. In developing the business, Mr. Alhababi stated that he valued the family support and expertise that he had available to him, but he did not want any partners in the business. It was important to him that he developed the business in his own name.
His own perception of the strength of the business was that it was not built on credit, this meant that he could develop the business the way he wanted to rather than needing to explain decisions to investors and seek their approval. His most triumphant moment in this initial start-up phase he says was the first sale, and then the first profit for re-investment into the business. He says that looking back at that phase now, what he considered to be challenging allowed him to learn and develop the business. The biggest challenge of that time was developing the business ‘on a shoestring’.
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