Starting a business? Get in touch with a layer.

Let’s start with a practical situation.

After a trip to Dubai, an Italian entrepreneur in the food industry decides to enter the market there, realizing the Emirate offers many opportunities, particularly in light of the upcoming Expo 2020.

Now, what can he do to get some guidance in this venture?

He can turn to:

  1. his/her current accountant or Italian lawyer;
  2. Italian institutions in Dubai, such as the Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Emirates and ICE (Foreign Trade Institute);
  3. a professional, Italian or otherwise, already working in the Emirates.

The first option can be reassuring, as the entrepreneur already trusts the Italian professionals. However, they are not likely to be experts in Dubai or the Emirates in general, so they will have to gather information about local regulations. But getting information from a distance is not the same thing as having on-the-ground professional experience.

The second option places the entrepreneur in the hands of public institutions, which have direct experience in the market but mostly offer an exploratory and counseling service, rather than set-up assistance (However, I can personally attest that both these Italian institutions in Dubai offer excellent service).
What I suggest is option number 3 and, in particular, I would recommend consulting a trustworthy professional in the legal field.

Before explaining why, let’s go back to our entrepreneur in the food industry and assume he did consult a lawyer (or an accountant or a business advisor), but this person was not a very good professional.
What could happen?
From my experience I see three scenarios:

  1. the entrepreneur is asked to pay a very high fee, even up to €100.000, with the promise of entering the Emirati market easily and without too much effort;
  2. the business idea of the entrepreneur is not subject to a critical assessment highlighting pros and cons;
  3. no critical assessment is done of the entrepreneur’s starting position: what is his/her turnover? What is the product specialization? The customer target? Etc

I have happened to hear similar stories, when an entrepreneur knocked on my door only after he/she got caught up in some kind of trouble.



So, why turn to a lawyer?  

When an Italian entrepreneur reaches out to me, he/she often explains his/her idea and from that idea I build an investment, which has an impact from both a legal and a fiscal point of view.

It’s on the legal side the entrepreneur is in more need of support, as on the fiscal side he/she is likely to have received some advice from the accountant in Italy.
Most of the time the information is incomplete but, once the investment is set up, I also firm up fiscal issues, connecting the entrepreneur with the best local accountant for the job using my extensive network.

The first advice for business internalization should be legal advice, though, because the Italian entrepreneur is required to enter into a number of contracts with the local partner, which will have to be drawn up or reviewed by a lawyer capable of representing and safeguarding the entrepreneur.
The experience of a lawyer can be significant even in the very early stages of the operation.
I’ve often received an entrepreneur presenting a business idea, which was most of the time a non-structured, do-it-yourself idea.

By the end of the entrepreneur’s first meeting with me and my team, that idea was transformed into something else, as the realization hit that the initial planning was wrong, that it was not embedded into an overall framework or it didn’t take into account the possible effects an entrepreneurial initiative in the Emirates can have on the other Gulf markets.

A good professional whose mission is to accompany and assist the entrepreneur along his/her start up journey in the Emirates plays a specific role, which unfolds step by step as follows:

  1. listen to the entrepreneur’s indications and needs, make a preliminary analysis and convert them into an operational framework, outlining the most effective way to enter the market (strategy planning);
  2. connect the entrepreneur with the professionals dealing with each and every aspects of the operation; not only the fiscal one, as mentioned before, but also — for example — the tasks relating to market research and the business plan (solution design);
  3. examine and adjust the business plan, if it was designed by the entrepreneur autonomously, in light of costs and expenses he/she wasn’t aware of;
    advise on areas relating to governance;
  4. obtain the license, draw up commercial contracts;
  5. follow up, or, in other words, make sure that what the entrepreneur is doing in the market is in full observance of local legislation.

If you are looking for a competent professional to start your business in Dubai, get in touch.

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