Interview with Inci Malik, Co-founder, MENA Food Brokers
What made you want to start your own business?
To take control of my own destiny. I have the opportunity to surround myself with positive people who give me the confidence and optimism I need to keep moving forward and weed out the people that put out negative vibes. My organization is small but I have larger choices about whom I work with.
How long did it take you to go from idea stage to live stage? Was it a difficult journey?
The whole process was around one year. Once I decided to execute the plan it took 4 months to set everything up and be online with the business.
All it takes is to start the ignition. It can be slow and frustrating in the beginning but as you progress it takes a faster pace.
Was building up a customer base easy or challenging for you?
Creating a reliable and focused client base is always challenging. We had to do a lot of cleaning of fake accounts in our online marketing activities.
It is more about the quality than quantity. I am a believer in creating a brand loyalty to cultivate a nurturing relationship with your clients.
What mistakes have you made and what have you learned from them?
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my online shopping business was utilizing the wrong business model. I wasted a big amount of money on inventory, which became obsolete very quickly and it was challenging to liquidate.
Then, the circumstances led the business to divert into corporate gifting in high volumes, which helped the business gain cash for the operation.
What do you think a person needs to be able to run a small business successfully?
To build something beautiful and big, start small, but start RIGHT. Invest in people on your team who have the knowledge and experience, and who are aware of the market conditions and brands or the services you provide.
Have you always known you were going to become an entrepreneur?
I didn’t know. But I always had that kind of feeling of being in control. Not to satisfy my ego but of being able to create the environment where I can give back to the community and the ability to create a positive work environment where people are happy to work.
How easy is it to blend the life of an entrepreneur with raising a family?
As an entrepreneur, you can bet that each day will be filled with new opportunities to challenge yourself, be creative and learn something new.
So, there is no routine at all, but the advantage of being able to set my own schedule gives me the flexibility to focus on my children and be there when they need me.
What continues to motivate you to be the best you can be?
To challenge myself and the feeling of being successful through your own leadership, abilities, ideas, and efforts.
What are your favorite business books?
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.
Where do you see yourself and your business in the next 10 years?
10 years is very long-term planning. It is more practical to set short-term goals, and just go with the flow of the business. Market trends, customer expectations, and technology are evolving very fast.
It is better to be flexible enough to adapt to changes and the 10 years course will take care of itself professionally and personally.
Any advice for budding entrepreneurs? Dos & Donts?
Do it for passion, not money. Do something you know about. Do talk to lots of people in your intended business for advice. Do focus on sales. Don’t give up too early. Don’t try to rush.
Don’t ignore the negative aspects of an intended business. Don’t spend your money on a fancy office, furniture, and cutting-edge technology. Use what you have and what you are familiar with.
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Inci Malik is a close friend and budding entrepreneur. She is the Managing Partner of Belizz, a startup jewelry design business. She is also the co-founder of MENA Food Brokers, an automated global food sourcing platform.
She has over 12 years of combined experience in hospitality, finance, and e-commerce. She combines creativity with strong analytical and technical abilities to develop and grow her business.
Her personal ambition is continuous self-development to reclaim the influential power to make a difference in her own way. She currently resides in the UK.
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Photo by Emma Matthews