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American business targets the high-spend potential of the Middle East

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Dubai by night

flickr/klebtahi

Here’s a couple of insights which should have any self-respecting entrepreneur checking their business credit card limit before flying off into the blue yonder on a fact-finding mission. Official estimates put the number of Americans living abroad at just over six million, a large but mainly untapped market. And something like 95% of consumers are to be found outside the borders of the United States. Yes, it’s a big, wide world of opportunity out there and there are no bigger buyers of American luxury goods than the citizens of the Gulf States of Qatar and Bahrain in the Middle East.

The American Express Middle East Luxury Spending Tracker surveyed a random sample of 1,000 residents a year or two back, drawn from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And it found Qatari citizens were the biggest buyers of luxury goods across the Middle East, closely followed by consumers in Bahrain. Qataris, the survey found, spent up to $5,000 a month on luxury goods, while consumers in Oman and Jordan were the most conservative shoppers, spending less than $250 per month.

And they preferred luxury products such as cars, high-end electronic goods and fashion accessories as opposed to holidays and spa treatments, with quality and brand name influencing purchasing decisions.

Mazin Khoury, Chief Executive Officer, American Express Middle East, said at the time, “Quality is by far the biggest driver of luxury purchases among consumers, though the brand name also remains a key deciding factor. Those surveyed said that the brand name was key in determining spend, in addition to sales, price reductions and advertising. It is only in the UAE that a friend’s recommendation carried the greatest weight.”

Winding forward to today, it’s perhaps little surprise to find the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with more than 300 business leaders and government officials from nearly 20 countries, has just launched a new initiative aimed at promoting the business potential of the Middle East.

Called the Middle East Commercial Center (MECC), the private sector-led alliance intends to promote greater trade and investment to address economic challenges and opportunities across the region. The MECC mix includes business and trade organizations, American Chambers of Commerce abroad, national chambers of commerce and industry, and major companies.

“Through the MECC, we are taking a new approach in this region and looking for those things that bring us together,” said Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber’s executive vice president and head of International Affairs. “We are overcoming obstacles and building a more economically integrated Middle East.”

During two days of meetings last month in Jordan, the group identified concrete steps to guide the organization moving forward. As a “coalition of action,” the MECC aims to advance projects and promote public policies that will contribute to more regional economic integration and increased foreign investment.

The group will initially focus on a limited number of pressing economic and strategic issues through task forces focused on movement of goods and market access, national resource cooperation, special economic zones, and entrepreneurship development. More broadly, it will address a number of key sectors in a regional context, including finance and development, health care, education, regional tourism, and women in business.

Further details about the MECC and its aims are available here.

Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Heading Back to Work After Lockdown

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As we’ve battled the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have been working from home, or even not working. You may have spent months living this new normal, but as the world starts to reopen, many of us are heading back to the workplace for the first time. 

This is bound to be strange. We get used to things and adapt quickly, and while working from home, or working far less, might have been strange to start with, by now you are bound to have adapted, and you might even be enjoying yourself. Many of us have found that we work more productively from home and that despite its challenges, it can be a system that works well. 

You may also be worried about getting back out into the real world. You might be concerned that infection rates are still high and wondering what your workplace may be doing to keep you safe. If you own or manage your business, you may have a large list of things that you need to do to protect everyone else. You are bound to be anxious, so let’s look at some tips to help.

Make Sure You’ve Got Everything You Need

If you own a business, it may need some upgrades to cope in the new world. You might want to check your equipment and make improvements such as installing a vaccine fridge if you work in healthcare. You should also focus on things to keep your employees safe, such as sanitizer, masks, moving desks, and changing schedules to reduce bodies in the workplace at any time. 

If you are an employee, your responsibilities are less, but you may still want to buy a mask and some hand sanitizer, just in case. Then, make sure you still have uniform and any other supplies that you may need to do your job. 

Check Your Route to Work

Your route to work may have changed due to the pandemic. Public transport services have changed and may be limited numbers. You may also need to wear a mask. Check what is available and, if possible, travel away from peak times to reduce risks. 

Get Back into Your Routine

If you’ve been working from home, you may still have been working set hours, but your routine is bound to have changed significantly without commutes or even having to get dressed for work. Getting back into a routine following such a long break can be hard. 

So, start now. Set your alarm early, get some early nights, and make things easy for yourself by planning outfits and packing bags the night before. 

Consider More Flexible Working for the Future

If working from home has been working well for you, or for your employees, why not carry on? There are many benefits to remote working. It can save you money, reduce stress, and improve productivity and loyalty. If you are an employee, speak with your manager about a more permanent work from home set up, even if it’s only part-time.

Going back to work is bound to feel a little strange, so don’t worry about any anxiety that you may be feeling. You’ll get used to it in no time.

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8 Smart Ways To Level Up Your Photography Business

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If you have a photography business, building it right now might seem like an impossible task. However, there are ways to go about this in 2020 – people are still booking photography services for their small, intimate weddings and other special occasions. Here, you’ll find 8 smart ways to level up your photography business so you can start taking the steps to grow now. 

1. Offer Creative Discounts To Past Clients

Start by figuring out a few creative discounts you could potentially offer to your past clients. Think of a new product you haven’t offered in the past and offer that, or come up with a discount that could tempt them to book in with you again. 

People who have worked with you once are more likely to work with you again, and may even want to take advantage of images they didn’t get from you before.
Alternatively, or as another aside, you can simply aim to keep in touch with them and improve your engagement. Sending Christmas cards, for example, is a great way to let them know that you are thinking about them and are wishing them the best. It also helps to keep you in the forefront of their minds and gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling when they think about you

2. Try Something New 

Now is a great time to try something new. For example, why not offer online courses and workshops? Try a new technique for taking your pictures, even! You could try a drone from DrDrone.ca and take pictures from an entirely new perspective. Figure out ways you can branch out, share your expertise, or build on what you already have. There are likely lots of things you can do. 

3. Find Ways To Strengthen Your Client Relationships

Feature your client sessions on social media and talk about why you loved working with them. This will help you to build those connections even more and let them know that you loved working with them! Other people will also get an idea of how fun your sessions are and will be far more tempted to book. 

4. Put A Bigger Focus On Your Service

Your product might be up to par, but what about your service? Make sure your customer service and communication could not be better. People want an amazing overall experience with you, not just a great product. If you’re hard to work with, they won’t want to work with you again or recommend you. 

5. Aim To Get More Traffic Through Your Website

See if you can get more traffic through your website using things like Facebook ads, and paid advertising on Google, like adwords. Work on your knowledge of SEO and improve your marketing expertise, but remember for real results you may need to hire a professional company. Make sure you focus on local customers, too. Local customers may be your best chance of getting people into your studio or in front of your lens. 

6. Create An Email Sign Up

Create an email sign up and work on converting enquiries into customers. Getting people’s emails addresses is only half the battle. You then need to create content that they are going to want to open. 

7. Get Organised

You need to have an effective way of following up when somebody enquires about your service. When you are organised, you will increase your booking rate. Consistency is absolutely key when you want better results. 

8. Work On Getting Recommendations

One of the most powerful ways of boosting your business is getting recommendations from other clients. Many people deem this safer than doing the research themselves from scratch. 

A recommendation will save them time and they have the security of knowing that somebody they know and trust used your service and was satisfied with it. Don’t just assume that past clients will recommend you – actively ask them to do it. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Give them a short satisfaction survey and make sure they know how valuable feedback from them is to your small business. You do need to be very clear about what you would like from clients sometimes. A small incentive doesn’t go amiss, either! 

Now you have 8 smart ways to level up your photography business. Which of these things are you going to try? Leave any of your own thoughts and advice for leveling up your photography business during this strange time below. Come back soon.

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6 Tips for the Ideal Desk Set Up to Unlock Your Potential

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Today’s ideal desk setup is a little different from the one that professionals a few years ago were used to. It is still possible to see office desks with huge amounts of tangled cables on and around it. These are often the ones that have been converted into more modern solutions, but they were not initially ready to welcome the number of devices and tech items we need to make our job more fruitful. 

Make Space for Your Phone, Laptop, and Tablet

Ensure that there is space on your desk for a laptop, keyboard, phone, and tablet. Even if we all try to stay off technological devices as much as possible, we rely on them for several activities. 

Positioning them so they are easily reachable and in order could be essential to speed up most processes. 

Using stands and holders can also help you keep all of your incoming notifications under control without interrupting your workflow to check your phone. This is an essential part of the best desk setups in modern offices.

Keep the Cables in Order

Keeping the cables in order on your desk is one of the biggest challenges for most office professionals. However, since you will always be using the same plugs and tables, you could opt to implement easy-to-use clips and cable ties to keep all the cords in place and out of your way.

Don’t Be Ashamed to Stick to the Good Old Pen & Paper.

While most of your tasks will be completed thanks to computer software, there is nothing better than a simple pen and paper to note down important information or to-do lists. Having post-it notes around you can help you be more efficient and less forgetful. 

For a complete kit, you could use recycled paper and a vintage, old-school pen that can enhance your desk’s look. No matter what innovation you introduce in your company to get out of your startup shell, a pen and paper will always be there!

Opt for a Versatile Standing Desk

Using a standing desk has been seen as beneficial under many viewpoints. Indeed, this habit can help you find a more in-depth focus, more motivation, and cut our distractions. All this while limiting the strain on your back and neck.

At the same time, standing for long hours can be not as beneficial for your legs, especially if you suffer from knee problems. In this case, finding a versatile solution that allows you to sit when you need it and stand when you need to be more productive can be optimal. 

Clean and Sanitize the Area Often

While offices have started to reopen, the risk of contagion has not significantly decreased. Therefore, limiting the number of items and decorations on your desk can help you keep your area clean and tidy. Of course, this can also make the process of sanitizing surfaces much more straightforward. 

Have a Plant Nearby!

Having a plant in a room can be extremely beneficial. Adding one on your desk has been seen as capable of encouraging creativity, lowering stress levels, improving air quality, and stabilizing mood. All this while making your workplace more stylish and attractive.

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