Anything that implies success and growth is music to an entrepreneur's ears, but how do you actually achieve scale? An entrepreneur should always be thinking about scale.
And, if you’re reading this, you’re already one step ahead.
The good news is that Saudi SMEs are thriving. As of December 2020, the number of registered SMEs in Saudi is nearly 1 million. Authorities are working behind-the-scenes to support this ecosystem, working on the foundation legwork to help entrepreneurs in the private sector, and constantly improving the infrastructure to help young startups.
Scaling your business: the next step.
Your business is thriving, but now you need to map out growth beyond the Kingdom. To scale from KSA to the GCC requires you to have the know-how to tackle whatever comes your way, from setting up the right processes, tech, partners and finance to ensuring you’ll have the customer-base when you get there.
Ask the tough questions
You’re not alone in your dream of scaling your business, but are you prepared if your inbound business suddenly doubles overnight? To begin with, ask the tough questions. Your answers will determine whether your dream of scaling can become a reality.
Do you have the finances?
Do you have the facilities?
What are your staffing needs?
What do you want to gain from scaling your business?
Just as you mapped out your business plan on day 1, scaling to the GCC and beyond requires you to map out what you have, where you are headed, and evaluate exactly what you need to get there.
Take advantage of local resources
Saudi has seen many developments over the last few years, and there are endless opportunities to take advantage of. It’s 2021 and we are at the offset of a decade of entrepreneurship and growth, as Saudi keenly recognizes the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises for economic growth.
As you’re probably aware, part of Vision 2030 is to support growth and innovation, and to encourage SME entrepreneurship, privatization, and investments in new industries. This is great news for young SMEs. Taking advantage of local resources is smart and there are many helpful platforms you need to take note of.
Use Vision 2030 to understand the latest business-friendly regulations, learn how you can potentially get easier access to funding, and use the information available to you to learn about international partnerships that have already been created to help start-ups.
There are also enterprises to help you grow abroad. Monsha’at is a Saudi enterprise that you can think of as a middle-man. This country understands and supports start-up growth as part of its Vision 2030 initiatives, and Monsha'at goes one step further. The initiative works on ground level and in different government departments along with international entities, with the aim of sharinig knowledge and best practices throughout the Kingdom. For start-ups looking to scale, their knowledge is invaluable.
There are 4 key pillars to be aware of
A report by PWC looked at scale-ups in the region and summarised four key-pillars within the scale-up ecosystem that you should be aware. The report also highlighted the main drivers for scaling in the region: access to finance and talent.
Business fundamentals (regulations and facilities)
Business propellers (talent and financing)
Demand creators (markets you’re buying and selling into)
Country readiness (how a country can facilitate your operations)
Scale-up candidates, take note: Have you secured the finance it takes to achieve your objectives? Have you taken into account the regulations you'll need to follow? What are the talent pools like in the country you would like to scale to?
Check that the local infrastructure is in line with what you need, get help to understand the regulations in the country you’re expanding to, consider the demand, and make sure your access to finances and talent are in order.
Face the toughest challenges first
The road to successful scaling is littered with challenges.
Your team will need to be aligned with your vision and they'll need to be readied for change. You'll potentially need to hire new talent, take on new tech, new facilities, new processes and put trust in your team so they can prosper. Finances could be your biggest challenge. Can you bootstrap the business? Or, do you need deep pockets to help?
There are a number of local firms and even angel investors who might want to be involved, but first thing’s first: Outline your plan. Evaluate what you need to get there and then consider who might be worth reaching out to.
Saudi funding is primarily aimed at tech and startups, but more recently you’ll find Saudi startup communities and ventures with a wide portfolio at arm’s reach. You can also consider the Misk Seed Accelerator, a program that helps startups access funding and grow offerings, allowing thriving Saudi businesses to grow across the region.
What to look out for
Saudi is constantly finding ways to improve its start-up ecosystem and to help benefit entrepreneurs.
Keep an eye out for the ‘National Companies Program’. Still in its infancy, the program will empower 100 companies to transform from local to leading regional companies.
And lastly, good luck.
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