6 Lessons I Learned from Starting a Business in Egypt

Taking the decision to start your own business is never an easy one, especially when you decide to leave the warmth and comfort of the corporate world and your managerial position.

I did just that and as scary/exhilarating as it has been, I can’t see myself doing anything else. There are days when I wish I can run back to that steady paycheck and there are days where all I want to do is take on bigger projects.

The thing with having your own business in a country like Egypt is it comes with a whole different set of rules and difficulties, and if you get through them then you can be sure you are invincible!

What have I learned over these past five years, you ask? Here it goes (for all you nit-picky people out there, this is not an insult to Egypt, but about experiences):



1. People have no respect for deadlines and appointments



Unfortunately, no matter how many times you set an appointment with clients, vendors or your own employees, no one seems to respect the fact that a meeting or a deadline was set for a reason. The reason why they don’t respect it? Only the Lord knows!



2. People have no respect for their word



“You’ll have the materials on Thursday”. “We’ll send you confirmation later today”. “We’ll pay X” (and you end up receiving X – Y). Alas, that is what business is like in Egypt.



3. Most employees just want to sit at their desks, not put in the hours, and get their paycheck at the end of the month



Come in late, clock out early. Very typical (of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, there will be those star employees who you don’t want to let go of).



4. Always go with your gut feeling



Most people will tell you not to go ahead with a big project because it may fail. There will be a million opinions, the only one that really matters is your gut feeling. There have been a couple times I have ignored it and followed other people’s advice against my own good judgement, which ended up with me being very unhappy with the results. At least when you fail or mess up due to your own decision, you cannot blame anyone but yourself.



5. Your time is more valuable than any money you can make



Most people will chase the money, disregarding how much time they have to put into it. Later in your business life, you’ll learn that your time is actually worth any money you will be making. If you’re putting in way more time than the results you want or expect, then DON’T DO IT!



6. You can’t please everyone, let go of those people


Our Separate Ways

In a client-based industry, especially in a country like Egypt, the easiest thing for the client to do is stay quiet and inactive for weeks on end only to all of a sudden appear and blame you for tardiness. These kinds of clients, no matter what you do, will never be happy and that is why you have to let go of them. You will always be the reason for any of their failures.



That being said, if you are able to overcome these frustrating hurdles, there is a wealth of opportunities in this country despite the poor business morals. With all the of options in the market, a market that is so underdeveloped in every field possible, with the right eye and prowess you can build an Empire.

They say that business in Egypt “beh Kafar” (makes a person lose their faith in everything they believe in), this is very true, but it also sets you up to be able to handle any kind of hurdle you may ever meet anywhere else in the world.



WE SAID THIS: Check out 4 Ways to Bounce Back After Failure in Business.