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With a population of more than three million and a fair influx of visitors, aspiring entrepreneurs can fare well with a small business setup in Dubai. When you think of a startup, the initial picture could be that of a corporate office with young workers, a football table and a swanky pantry. However, there are numerous possibilities when one wants to start a small business in Dubai.

Starting small could mean providing consultation based on yours expertise from a desk space or opening a tea stall next to a parking lot, or even selling groceries. The possibilities for small business setup in Dubai are vast. However, one needs to bear in mind some important factors before they start a small business in the UAE.

How to open a small business in Dubai, UAE

Key steps to start a small business

  • Finding sponsorship
  • Preparing documentation
  • Legal formalities
  • Choosing location for business
  • Set up a business with the right staff
  • Marketing
  • Get professional assistance

1. Finding sponsorship

Without a doubt, starting a small business in Dubai will be on the steeper side. From obtaining various permits, renting out space, furnishing it, buying equipment, getting supplies, and paying staff salaries, to promoting your business, the process might be an expensive affair.

If you do not have the required funds, find a like-minded partner, or consider taking out a business loan. Most banks in the city do not require any collateral, offer flexible repayment plans, and have simple documentation processes.

Although the amendments made to the Commercial Companies Law allows expat entrepreneurs to have 100% ownership of their business, the deposits required for the same are quite high. Therefore, if you want to do business on Dubai Mainland, you should partner with a local sponsor. This local partner will act as your service agent who will charge you a mutually agreed annual fee.

2. Preparing documents for business setup

This involves several government agencies inspecting, approving, and issuing various permits you will require for your business operations. The main document required for setting up a small business in Dubai is your trade license, which is either issued by the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the respective free zone authority under which your business will fall based on your choice of location.

Below are the basic documents you would have to keep handy while applying for a small business license in Dubai:

  • Business plan
  • Relevant government forms duly filled
  • Memorandum of Association (MoA)
  • Trade name reservation certificate
  • Initial approval certificate
  • NOC from shareholders (if any)
  • Passport copies of partners
  • Visa page copies
  • Emirates IDs
  • A copy of Ejari (tenancy contract)

Depending on the nature of your business, you might need to get some formal permits. For instance, to open a restaurant in Dubai, you need to obtain a trade license from the DED or the respective free zone authority or the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) depending on your location, a food and safety license issued by the Department of Food and Safety, and an NOC is required from the Dubai Municipality.

4. Choosing location for business

The address of your office or store speaks for your brand, which is important for your business. Dubai has specific areas which are suitable for certain categories of businesses. For example, Sheikh Zayed Road and Business Bay host premiere corporate offices, Dubai Healthcare City houses specialty clinics and hospitals, Media City is home to the branches of several international media companies, DIFC is the hub of financial institutions, and the industrial areas are where most of the assembling and manufacturing units are located.

However, there are other factors to bear in mind while choosing your business location. Its proximity to public transportations such as bus and metro stations so that your employees and potential clients can travel conveniently, the availability of eateries and convenience stores, and parking facilities among others.

Moreover, the interiors of your workplace matter too. The decor, vibe, pricing, and personal touches including furniture and lighting also play a major role in attracting clients as well as creating a healthy work environment. The city has no dearth interior designers and companies offering complete furnishing solutions at competitive prices.

5. Set up a business with the right staff

Your hiring choices could make or break the project, so, take your time to find the right people to run the show. Inquire not only about their past experience, but also try to figure how they get along with colleagues, large teams, and deal with clients under pressure. You can outsource this to a staffing company. Furthermore, you can also get their visas and documentation done via professionals with expertise in the field.

6. Marketing

Newly opened businesses in Dubai need to advertise themselves across varied platforms, including print and digital mediums. Having an in-house IT team would ensure your visibility in this fast-paced world with rapidly evolving technology.

Associating with a public relations company dealing with clients in the relevant industry is a good idea as you might already have too much on your plate. Trust these executives to prepare press releases, run social media campaigns, organize promotional events that help your company step into the limelight.

7. Get professional assistance

The process of establishing your own company might sound overwhelming given the investment and multiple factors mentioned above, but you can get help at every step on your journey with expert consultants at Shuraa Business Setup.

The team will advise and assist you with both planning and walk you through the formalities required to start a small business in Dubai. From helping you choose an ideal property for your dream project, identifying a local sponsor and getting the paperwork sorted at various stages, to getting special permits, Shuraa spells success. Furthermore, the company will also guide you with financial aspects and take care of PRO services.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Small Business in Dubai?

Numerous factors influence the small business license cost in Dubai. Your business operations, license type, location, and other factors are among them. A trading license for your small business can also be issued for as little as AED 20,000. 

Therefore, any amount between AED 20,000 and AED 30,000 is considered a safe bet. It’s vital to remember that the small business license cost in Dubai will increase if you require special privileges. 

For example, regulations like a foreign trading name or governmental approval add to the entire cost. You can reach out to Shuraa’s company formation experts, and we’ll help ensure you don’t overpay at any time during the procedure for starting a small business in the UAE.

Paperwork Involved for Starting a Small business in the UAE

Here’s a list of documents you need to start a small business in Dubai: 

  • A descriptive business plan document
  • Duly filled application form
  • MoA and LSA agreements
  • Payment receipt of trade name registration
  • Passport copies of all the stockholders in your company (if any)
  • NOC from your service agent
  • A valid tenancy contract

10 Best Small Business Ideas in Dubai, UAE

We list down the most profitable small business opportunities in Dubai, UAE.

  1. Events company
  2. Restaurant/Cafe
  3. Home Cooked Food Delivery
  4. Health and wellbeing
  5. Transport
  6. Construction
  7. Real estate
  8. Cleaning services
  9. Web development
  10. Recruitment Agency

To learn more, contact Shuraa at +971 44081900. You can also send a WhatsApp message to +971 501287254 or drop an email to [email protected]

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