UAE-based expat woman leaves 15-year corporate career for floristry entrepreneurship

Dubai: Like many other small business owners, UAE-based Indian expatriate Sunita Anchan did a full-time corporate job in India for over a decade before venturing into the highly competitive world of entrepreneurship in Dubai.

However, the lessons that drove her to explore corporate ownership have not only taught her how to handle the daily money-related challenges of running a start-up, but also keep her motivated to stay invested, both financially and personally.

“Over 15-year career with many ups and downs has taught me the fundamentals of finance management for the future,” revealed Anchan, who worked in public relations (PR) and event management in India before moving. in the United Arab Emirates.

Long before embarking on the road to entrepreneurship, Anchan recalled starting as a public relations executive fresh out of college, after which she moved up the corporate ladder and assumed a managerial position managing five to six client brands.

Learn how to earn, save and invest as a young person

“Belonging to a middle-class family, saving a small portion of the salary was a priority as well as mandatory due to an infant instance. When I was about 16, a medical emergency with my father opened my eyes, and his savings came in handy, “he revealed.

“I lost my father a year later, when I was 17, and he was our only family member who made money. He publishes this to manage the family, my mother and I started doing small odd jobs like sewing, providing tiffin services and lessons to young children. We used to plan all our groceries, expenses, earnings and what to reinvest in our small family business.

“These made me realize the importance of earning, saving and investing,” added Anchan, who in 2014 jointly launched ‘Arpan Flowers’, an online retailer providing handcrafted flower arrangements and fresh flower subscriptions throughout Dubai.

In 2014, Sunita Anchan jointly launched “Arpan Flowers”, an online retailer providing handcrafted flower arrangements and fresh flower subscriptions throughout Dubai. (Image used for illustrative purposes.)

What was the initial investment for an online flower shop?

Anchan revealed that the initial investment wasn’t much, as she and her husband started the business as a purely online portal with limited services and products.

“We started with an initial investment of nearly $ 50,000 (Dh183,649), which was mainly used to set up the e-commerce portal and the initial back office and IT infrastructure,” he explained.

How was the company’s initial investment funded?

The initial investment for the company came from Anchan’s personal savings. “I invested everything in this and after 2 years of having a good understanding and customer base, we raised a small fund of $ 200,000 (Dh734.597) for the raise.

“To increase, I needed additional support, so I took my longtime friend on board as a business partner. We have also currently reinvested a little more of our personal savings to upgrade our technology. We are now ready for substantial expansions in the UAE and GCC regions and will seek strategic investments again. “

Challenges faced when starting a furniture business?

When Anchan started the business with her husband in 2014, the market had a few flower shops.

“It wasn’t an organized market. I wanted to fill this gap and bring the convenience, in a more organized way, of buying fresh Indian flowers and custom event decorations. We knew the future would be driven by technology and so we developed our website, offering Indian and cut flowers along with the home delivery option. “

The website also offers a subscription for home flower delivery, a concept that wasn’t available at the time, he added. “The challenge was finding the right vendors and suppliers, as I was a woman it was hard to get them to trust me in a male-dominated business.

“After a few years of starting the business, I also realized that the market did not have many options for inexpensive furnishing services and I wanted to fill this gap too … that’s how furnishing services were born. Again, the challenge was to find the right resources to be able to offer quality “.

When Sunita Anchan started the business with her husband in 2014, the market had fewer flower shops.

Overcoming the challenges of a female entrepreneur

Anchan also revealed how particularly difficult it was to be a female entrepreneur when she started, as there weren’t many people making the entrepreneurial leap back then.

“As a woman in a male-dominated company, I’ve always had to overcome barriers and break through with clients and event companies. One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face is reconciling work and home life, and mine was no different, as my two children were small children when we started. “

How much does it cost you to run the business on a monthly basis?

On average, the current operating cost per month is just under $ 10,000 (Dh36,729), Anchan noted, but added that costs are proportionally higher during the peak season.

“We understand the need for funds to manage the right cash flow for running an online or physical business, and therefore we have always maintained cash reserves for at least two or three months of operating costs and we manage to rotate it.

‘We keep our focus on credits [amounts owed to a business, regarded as assets], works to keep our inventory as low as possible, especially when it comes to perishable products. As this is an online business, we know our demand in advance and this helps to plan our products and stocks respectively. With five or six years of maturity in this area, we have a good understanding of supply and demand and this helps us plan better. “

5 quick tips to help fellow entrepreneurs start their own business?

1. Focus on ideas that bring value and solve a social need, while being a scalable model (capable of being easily expanded or updated on demand)
2. Raise sufficient capital to set up and sustain the business for at least 2 years.
3. Try to commit yourself full time, studying and researching the market in detail
4. Good marketing is the key to increasing revenue and sales growth
5. Invest in the hiring of hard-working, value-added talents and / or resources

Stock Dirham

Anchan revealed that the initial investment for the startup wasn’t much, as she and her husband started the business as a purely online portal with limited services and products.

Do you invest the money you earn in your personal life?

“I am personally focused and invested in the flower business and therefore am not looking to invest in other aspects, but yes, my husband invests in other tech businesses and some resources as well,” Anchan added.

“When we have the right funds, I would look to invest in assets that are in the DNA of my current business. We have plans to create our own product brands and would like to offer organic or eco-friendly furniture options. We are currently looking for various options in the decoration service, which can be economical. “