Talk Points: Invitation to the Entrepreneurship Panel

The seeds of entrepreneurship are deep routed in my family. I believe there are two paths in life – the easy way and hard way. All you have to do is know which way is the hard way and know that it is the right way.

Dubai has achieved a status of being a platform for establishing projects & businesses on a regional & international level. Any small business is integral to the economy. Without it, economy would not survive. But a business must also sustain itself, be able to constantly evolve to fulfill the demands of the community and the people. In every business, it is imperative to be industrious, innovative and resourceful.

One of the most important traits of entrepreneurs is audacity. The audacity to dream big; the audacity to do it better or faster than your competition. And at Apparel, our mantra is “Where dreams come alive”. As Chairman of the group, my job is to dream BIG and dare people to dream bigger.

Every journey has to start somewhere. From one store in 1999 to the opening of our 1750+ stores this year, Apparel has amassed its resources to become a successful retail conglomerate in the GCC Region.

I strongly believe in investing well in my greatest asset – my team at the Apparel Group. It’s simple; Entrepreneurship and Management are both leadership roles. It is my job to create entrepreneurs and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset for all the people who work at Apparel. And this has been one of the secrets to our success.

At Apparel we groom our people for leadership by providing them with opportunities and education – because it’s our human capital that has played a vital role in enriching the brand and taking it from strength to strength. Commitment and Passion should be the key aspirations for any entrepreneur, this will inevitably add on to the upward mobility of the society.

If your leadership does not include followers then what kind of leader are you? If you aren’t able to convert followers into leaders by helping them drive themselves and their teams, you cannot be a successful entrepreneur! Entrepreneurship is a team sport and as long as you take care of your team, they will take care of your profits!

The success of a company really is a sum total of the mindset of its people. If the people in the company have an employee/ rational mindset, you’ll know it by how they treat the company’s resources. They fly first class, spend more than they would have had it been their own money, they analyze oil prices, observe real estate crashes and regional tension and very rationally decide how much they can grow or how they can avoid degrowth in the next year.

On the other hand, if your people have an entrepreneur/ audacious mindset, they negotiate with vendors, spend money for the right reasons, think of weekends as ‘prime time for business’ as opposed to holidays and most importantly think of the bottom line as much as they think of their own bonuses because they get the connection and look for opportunities to double growth.

For example, when the team at Microsoft develops a new product; their focus is not how much the product sales will be able to contribute to the Gates charity foundation. Their focus is to build the best product they can and exceed the customer’s expectation. If they are successful in doing that, everything else follows.

Any kind of investment in philanthropy needs to have sustainability which is also linked to international development, as development is the only sustainable tool for an entrepreneur to thrive on. So just be passionate about what you do and you’ll be able to do more good than if you just sit there worrying about how much good you can do.

We are now at 1750+ stores as a company and our continuous endeavor is to keep this culture of entrepreneurship alive. A culture where each one of our 1000+ store managers is a shop keeper who feels like the owner of his or her shop. We do this in 3 ways:

  • No door policy: We do not have cabins for anyone at Apparel. Everyone sits together and works together. It’s a clear message that at Apparel, we get our hands dirty and are involved with every small detail about the shop floor, no matter the designation. I think the Japanese call this GEMBA but for us it’s just dhanda

  • Limitless Rewards: Our incentive structures are limitless. People regularly take home 4-5 times their fixed salary. We believe in rewarding people who reward the organization

  • Innovation: We are constantly changing and pushing the envelope at every step. Be it our cardless loyalty program – Club Apparel or our free home delivery of products, we keep asking ourselves – what’s next?