Most aspiring entrepreneurs read the run-of-the-mill how-to business books, but sometimes one may need something more than that. Perhaps a sincere opinion from a successful businessman himself can be just what you need for motivation and inspiration.
We have featured Sanjay Shah Denmark of Solo Capital London on Market Brent before. Sanjay Shah’s impressive run as the boss of Solo Capital has been covered by leading publications in the UK when he was at the prime of his success.
Sanjay Shah’s obsessive attentive to detail, willingness to make tough decisions, calmness in a crisis, ability to recognize talent and generosity have shown the world how to build a massive company in an emerging industry.
In 2008, during the economic crisis, Sanjay Shah was found redundant and subsequently laid off. During that time, no one was hiring and Sanjay Shah had almost hit a dead-end, and that’s when he thought of putting his work experience to his advantage. Sanjay Shah found golden opportunity in the financial market where customers are being ripped off, where confusion reigns, and the competition is complacent.
And in this stressed-out, overworked time, Sanjay Shah came up with a new business – Solo Capital – where his dynamic, hardworking, successful entrepreneurial skills made the company what it is today.
Sanjay Shah Dividend, Sanjay Shah Finance and Sanjay Shah Family are still featured in UK’s leading newspapers like Telegraph and The Guardian but with a slight change in perspective: as the philanthropist founder of Autism Rocks. One of the most recent gigs of Sanjay in London featured Ricky Martin. You can read all about it in Sanjay Shah Wiki.
Sanjay Shah Solo Capital London, Sanjay Shah Denmark and Sanjay Shah Dubai
Sanjay’s life is an impressive array of events. His parents are Indian but lived in Kenya. Sanjay was born in London when his parents moved there. Sanjay currently lives in Dubai, a city he prudently chose to move with his family. Sanjay says his decision to move to Dubai was strictly personal. He says it is time to slow down on the business front and focus more on spending quality time with family.
Market Brent asks him his opinions about Dubai: both as a place for spending personal time and running a business. After all, the statistics from Dubai looks quite inspiring for any entrepreneur.
Before we get into the interview, here are some facts for all entrepreneurs
Its Not Crammed with Oil Wells
Dubai is not flooded with oil wells. Our readers will find it interesting that oil is not even the major source of Dubai’s income. Non-oil sectors now contribute about 70% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It’s the second largest Arab economy after Saudi Arabia and 30th largest globally with the 18th highest GDP per capita (USD 44,200) rate.
There is Good News for Brits
There are over 5,000 British companies operating in the UAE, including BP, Shell, Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Mott McDonald, SERCO, Standard Chartered, HSBC and Fortnum and Mason. 779 commercial agencies and 4,762 British brands have invested in the UAE. The country’s workforce is mostly made up of expatriates, with around 120,000 UK residents. If that’s not impressive, here is something else: around 1 million Brits visit Dubai each year.
Dubai is the Land of Opportunities for Many
Once you are in touch with the expat circle in Dubai, you will quickly notice that it is very common to work out of Dubai offices while conducting business for other regions such as parts of Africa. This is mainly because of Dubai’s strategic location that makes it very easy connecting with most African countries. It is also worth noting that Dubai’s own Emirate’s is world’s number 1 airlines. Emirates owns the world’s largest fleet of Airbus A380s. As a resident of Dubai, you have easy access to the world’s finest air transport easier than any other location.
Setting up some kinds of businesses in Dubai is easy. But as Sanjay Shah found out with Autism Rocks, if you are planning to register a trust or a business out of the box, things may take forever. Dubai is fairly small so getting around is easy.
Free Trade Zones
Foreigners can work in free trade zones, which are less restrictive because they are wholly-owned by foreign companies and don’t require a local partner. Free trade zones are communities that are based right outside of the city and focus on specific industries and operate under more typical western conditions. The companies located within the Emirate, require a local partner and working on the mainland can mean following Islamic laws and customs.
One of the most interesting things about running a business in Dubai is that there are no taxes on your income. Many businesses in Dubai earn 40% more than their London counterparts for this reason alone. This is why hundreds of Brits doing business in the Middle East or Africa chose Dubai. If you are close to work and you also get paid more for being there, it’s insane to go the other way right?
It is not easy Doing Business in Dubai
Sanjay Shah believes running a business in Dubai is not as easy as one would think. He says this is at least true for hedge funds or any business in the finance industry. According to him, Dubai is not as fast paced as London and personal relationships and business relationships are hard to keep separate. Despite the fact that 80% of Dubai’s 2 million or so residents are foreigners, most companies prefer hiring expats who already live in the Emirates, as they can keep up the with the culture. A few years ago, sealing a job offer in Dubai would take just a few weeks, but now most employers take up to six months to hire a candidate.
Keep in mind, there are few taboos in an interview. Jobseekers will be asked about their family life, their salaries and even their nationality. Some companies even ask recruiters to find candidates from particular areas of the world in order to ensure that they are a specific nationality.
The tax benefits in Dubai is unlike any other country. Sanjay Shah Denmark Tax SKAT or Sanjay Shah Solo Capital Tax would be virtually unheard of headlines in Dubai where almost everyone is accustomed to paying zero tax. Unlike some countries where one need to be extra careful to do all the paperwork so that they don’t unnecessarily get trapped into a Sanjay Shah Denmark tax suit or Sanjay Shah Solo Capital London Tax Fraud suit, you can go on with your daily routines without worrying about taking care of your tax books.
Dubai: both as a place for spending personal time and running a business from the viewpoint of Sanjay Shah
Sanjay Shah’s experience of doing business in the UAE
According to Sanjay Shah, doing business in Dubai has been very difficult for him, especially when he compares it with doing business in London. The business community follows a very old fashioned way of doing business. Businessmen in Dubai prefer to know their partners in person before they do business.
As Sanjay Shah put it “It’s down to knowing somebody or being introduced to somebody and gaining that person’s trust or they won’t do any business with you.” So doing business in Dubai is never about the price or the service of the vendor, but it’s all about gaining trust, gut instincts and behavior.
So before Sanjay Shah wanted to do business with someone, he had to invite them for dinner and gain their trust. This could go on as long as the other person doesn’t feel comfortable with him. Winning trust doesn’t only mean meeting a single person, but Sanjay had to meet his entire family as well. So Sanjay would be expected to invite his potential client over for dinner, they would reciprocate, they would want to know what Sanjay does socially, his political views, and suchlike.
As Sanjay Shah put it “If they don’t like anything about me, they will not do business with me. I found it very difficult.”
One may think doing business in Dubai is just like back in London – playing golf with people or going to clubs for old times’ sake. But Sanjay Shah gives a different version.
Sanjay likes the attitude of people who do business in the local community. They feel a lot of personal responsibility towards their business partners. So if something goes wrong from your side, your partner will also feel liable and responsible for the same. Now, when Sanjay Shah compares this scenario with UK, or for that matter the West, if he was to do a business and something goes wrong, the business will term it as a bad experience, and will probably get him fired. There is no emotional attachment between people or partners in business. However, in Dubai people take a lot of pride in a business partnership, as well as feel liable even if their money is at risk.
So, we can see a positivism in the way people do business in Dubai
Sanjay Shah says that when he mentions the difficulty of doing business in Dubai, he doesn’t see it as a negative thing. It may be frustrating that the process of becoming actual business partners may be very slow, but it’s a good process and is part of the culture. In his words “In UK for example, I would be able to do business with someone within 24 hours of meeting somebody. Whether it is a trade, agreeing to sell a car or whatever.”
In Dubai on the other hand, the whole process would actually take a year. However, Sanjay Shah admits that he is in a lucky position because he doesn’t have to rely on the local business. He can know all the expats in Dubai to do business back in London instead of trying to do business in Dubai. So, Sanjay Shah manages to do all his business back in London by meeting and making deals in Dubai.
Sanjay Shah’s Life in Dubai. How does he maintain work life balance?
Sanjay Shah likes to live in Dubai predominantly because, it’s a very family oriented place. In Dubai, work and private time are given its due respect. Although Dubai is a slow paced country when compared to London, Sanjay Shah feels it very comfortable for his age. He agrees that the place might not be good for him during his early days in business.
“People value their lunch break for example. My daily routine would be I would drop off one of the kids to school, I would then come for office, I would then meet somebody for lunch weather that’s a friend or a client or a colleague. And I would make sure that I have time to pick up one of the kids from school in mid-afternoon. I will then go home and catch up with family and after dinner time, given the time difference it’s a good time for me to catch up on my emails and phone calls so my work would finish almost same time as the UK.”
His work schedule gives Sanjay time to balance his work and family time. And yeah, it keeps his family happy as well.
Sanjay Shah’s story has been a roller-coaster life and his immensely intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized the finance industry. When London was going through a financial crisis, Sanjay Shah stood as the ultimate icon for fighting the odds and building an empire for himself. At the same time, Sanjay Shah has emphasized that family, friends, fun, and adventure are equally important as business.