Breaking The Mold: Five Lessons From Launching (And Sustaining) An Unconventional Business

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If someone told you five years ago that a business focused on smashing things and breaking stuff would sustain itself in Dubai for the next half-decade, you’d have probably thought they were crazy.

But here we are, in 2023, celebrating The Smash Room‘s fifth anniversary. When my co-founder Hiba Balfaqih and I started The Smash Room in 2018, no one believed in the idea. We were labeled as crazy, silly, or as having nothing else to do.

But being unconventional and starting something from scratch means going through a lot of new processes, procedures, and obstacles on the way. And while starting something from nothing is one thing, sustaining it for five years is another.

Image courtesy The Smash Room.

Here are some of the major takeaways from our journey of running The Smash Room over the last five years:

1. Delegate, delegate, and delegate. You cannot run a business by being a one-person show. Many early-stage entrepreneurs have the perfection syndrome, believing that they are the best person to do every job. However, this can end up being the main thing that stops them from progressing. Finding the right people for the right job, and giving them the power and authority to practice what they need to do without micromanagement is key.

2. Invest in your team. Building a strong team, nurturing it, and taking care of it is the major responsibility of an entrepreneur. Providing a healthy work environment, training, and mentoring are essential ways to keep your team engaged, so that they, in turn, can keep your customers engaged.

Image courtesy The Smash Room.

3. Never take no for an answer. Rejection can be a daunting concept, but persistence is one of the most important traits of an entrepreneur. The power of asking and not taking no for an answer can open a lot of closed doors. You must ask yourself what the worst-case scenario is. Receiving a no is not as bad as quitting, but it can also be the door to the next yes.

4. Be ready to pivot when needed. The lockdowns during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic presented the greatest challenge for The Smash Room- that was when we had to shut down the physical space for four months. But we still needed to pay salaries and rent, and so, we had to keep our creative juices flowing to keep the business running as well as the brand on top of people’s minds. After a few Zoom meetings with the team, we came up with the concept of Smashbox, where The Smash Room prepares a mini experience that can be delivered at customer doorsteps. While it didn’t replace the main income of the business, it helped the company stay afloat, the team engaged, and on top of people’s minds throughout the lockdown period.

Image courtesy The Smash Room.

5. Customer experience is crucial. In a competitive market like Dubai, creating an outstanding customer experience is the defining factor behind a business’s success or failure. However, maintaining a consistent outstanding customer experience is what will provide longevity to the business and bring customers back again.

Building the right foundations from the start will save you a lot of hassle, money, and time as you try to sustain and grow your business over the years. There is not a single blueprint to succeeding in entrepreneurship, and the best way to learn is through making mistakes. Keep in mind that if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough. What matters most is committing to making consistent action over time, no matter how small that action may be. When that action is compounded, it starts making a difference, and creating the life you dream of.

Related: Converging Ecosystems: Building Sustainable Businesses That Do Well (And Do Good)

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