Interview with Mohammed Z Abba, Founder of Focal First, Creative Agency based in Dubai
Abba talks us through starting a business, ensuring a solid six-month strategy is in place, the importance of loved ones to support your journey and why, after living in the United Kingdom all his life, he started his business in Dubai.
Welcome to Introvert Thoughts, Mohammed Z Abba. It's always great to learn about different types of businesses. To begin with, tell us a little about your background and your business journey?
Digital marketing was always at the heart of my professional journey. From the age of 9, my use of technology; primarily the internet and computers, laid the foundation for my love of creativity. Post-graduation at one of the UK’s most reputable business schools – fueled with a BA (Hons) Business and Marketing degree, I went on to play a key role in one of the largest blue-chip (FTSE 100) retailers in the United Kingdom, moving up the ranks quickly to a senior position in the digital marketing team. That company was Next PLC.
Thriving on challenge, I then relocated to Dubai, ready to conquer the digital sphere in the Middle East. Working with one of the fastest growing transportation companies in the UAE, I garnered the support network and resources necessary to transform the business to being one of the most innovative in the GCC region.
Focal First now represents an exciting new chapter in my short but ambitious journey thus far. Recognising the need to manifest a set of key differentiators, my message to everyone is that Focal First is like no other agency.
Tell us what it was it like in the first week or two of starting your own business - especially in a completely foreign country?
It was terrifying, for lack of a more suitable adjective. The dynamics of starting a new business are something one can never prepare for. You just have to go through with it and stay positive. The good news is that every existing company on the face of this planet has gone through that phase, even Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, and they’ve not done too bad.
How did you fund your business?
The Focal First venture was funded using personal assets and we’re not looking to change that anytime soon.
Did you get support from family and friends?
When you start a business, the people that really care for you stand out like diamonds in the midst of a mound of mud. For me, my immediate family were the most supportive throughout my journey. As an entrepreneur, it’s critical that there are at least two people who care for you, especially by telling you to keep on moving when you have that all-too-often-occurring moment of ‘giving up’.
How did you get your first few clients?
This is one of the biggest challenges of a new venture. When it comes to Focal First, we’re not selling sweets, we’re selling high value services which take time for decision makers to decide upon. The key is to provide value for each prospective client. Show them that you care about helping them and not about filling your pockets.
Give our readers some tips on how to make it past the 12 months mark?
I hate to say it, but there’s no magic formula for being successful in business. If there was, everyone would be their own boss. I’ll share some tips below, but remember, building a business is like joining a gym, you can learn all about building a business using tips, but it’s how you adapt these tips to your own circumstances and the effort you put in that brings real results! Here are my biggest tips:
Mohamed Z Abba is part of Focal First, a creative agency like no other. Originally form the UK and now based in Dubai, his team works hard for their clients to achieve unimaginable results.
There’s never a right time to start a business. You just have to do it. My recommendation for anyone interested in starting is to come up with a 6-month strategy on how you will build your new business. And...don’t forget to formulate a strategy about how you will sustain yourself personally for that 6-month period, just in case there’s no incoming revenue whilst your busy building your success!