How to Save Money When Starting a Business in Dubai

Opening your first business can be an exciting process, but it can cost you a lot of money. You can expect various expenses, such as setup and legal fees, office space rent, payroll, and other organization outlays to pile up.

However, if you are serious about pursuing your plans of starting your business in Dubai, there are several ways to manage all these expenses effectively and avoid incurring debt throughout the entire process.

All these money-saving techniques are easy to follow and will surely help you achieve your dream of opening your first business in Dubai without the need to spend more money than you have to.

Money-Saving Tips for Starting a Business in Dubai

If you are planning to start a business in Dubai, here are some ways to reduce expenses and save money in the process:

1. Select the right location for your business.

Office space rental is one of the biggest expenses your business can incur.

Location is one of the most significant factors that dictate office space lease. If you choose to set up your business in a popular commercial area, be prepared to spend more on the initial and monthly rent and other related fees.

Fortunately, your options for business addresses in Dubai are not limited only to areas within or near the heart of the city. The emirate has different free zones that offer several benefits to entrepreneurs and companies.

When you opt for business setup in a Dubai Free Zone, you can experience benefits that you won’t have access to when you run it elsewhere. You will work in a tax-free environment and enjoy profit repatriation, world-class infrastructures, and secure banking systems.

Free zones also offer faster and easier business setup.

All these features can help you save money and avoid plenty of unnecessary expenses when setting up a business in Dubai.

Dubai’s free zones include Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), Dubai Multi-Commodity Centre (DMMC), and Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA).

2. Cut your business setup costs.

As mentioned, starting a business means incurring different expenses. Although there is no getting around them, there are ways for you to reduce them.

Start by creating a list of things you need for setting up and running your business. These include rent, equipment, furniture, utilities, supplies, marketing efforts, and staffing.

Calculate the expected costs for all these elements and look for ways to reduce them.

Setting up your business in a free zone is an excellent start in cutting your expenses for rent, taxes, and other related setup costs. Below are some tips for doing so:

  • Purchase used equipment and office furniture. Another option is to rent or lease machinery rather than paying for ones that you may need regularly outright.
  • Hire virtual workers. Aside from saving money, you will get to work with a more diverse team and allow them to enjoy the benefits of telecommuting.
  • Negotiate with your vendors. Ask them to give you payment terms that will help you with your cash flow. You can revisit these conditions in the future when you are running a more stable, profitable business.
  • Use free or affordable marketing strategies. There is no fee to open social media accounts or pages and use them to promote and market your business. Handing out flyers and hanging posters you printed in allowed areas are free as well.

3. Look for discounts and deals diligently.

Aside from negotiating with your vendors, save more money by asking them for discounts if you will buy products in bulk. Most suppliers are willing to sell their products at lower prices to customers interested in purchasing them wholesale.

If your supplier is unwilling to offer discounts, don’t hesitate to look for another one that does. Avoid limiting your search to local vendors only; you may be able to find one based overseas that will allow you to save money on your supplies.

Additionally, look for discounts when signing up for insurance and utilities. Several companies offer various discounts or affordable bundles for individuals and businesses.

4. Opt for open-source software.

Aside from online marketing channels, there are other platforms and solutions that you can use to manage your business for free.

Open-source software is free or less expensive than similar commercial ones. They can be used with minimal or no fees since they are non-proprietary.

Some of the open-source solutions you can consider using for your business are for point of sale (POS), accounting and bookkeeping, and inventory management.

Since open-source software is free or affordable, there may be limited or no official support when you need assistance using them. However, you can still get help from other users when you join the right community forum.

5. Barter

Asking for discounts and deals is not the only way to save money when dealing with suppliers and service providers. You can also barter with them.

Offer your vendors and service providers something in exchange for the things you need.

For instance, if you want to start an event planning company, ask website design companies if they can create your site. In return, you can organize their next corporate gathering or any event they may host in the future.

You can also do the same for digital marketing companies and any other businesses you want to work with.

Although many entrepreneurs do not use this strategy, you will do well to avoid underestimating this business survival tactic. This simple technique will open many opportunities that will allow you to save money. 

6. Outsource

Lastly, in addition to hiring virtual employees, consider outsourcing some of your business needs.

You can outsource your marketing, bookkeeping, and accounting needs. You can even get help with setting up your business in Dubai if you need assistance with the whole process. 

Outsourcing is a cost-effective business move for entrepreneurs opening their first business. With this option, you will entrust important tasks to highly skilled workers who do all of these daily.

As a result, you won’t have to worry about hiring people you are not sure are qualified to do their job. Moreover, you can skip the training process, which can also cost you time and money.

And whatever job you decide to outsource, as long as you choose the right company or person, you can ensure your project will be completed within the given timeframe.

Outsourcing can lower your labor cost and eliminate your overhead significantly. As such, you will do well to consider this option.

With these tips and techniques, you will be able to save money in the first stages of opening your business and improve your potential for success.


Naresh Manchanda is a Partner at MBG Corporate Services, an international organization supporting clients across Asia, Europe and the Middle East and providing sustainable solutions and strategies that drive business transformation. Established in 2002 and headquartered in Singapore, MBG is a 450-strong member team that operates out of Europe, the Middle East and Asia, providing Legal, Risk, M&A, Tax, Strategy, Technology and Audit Services.


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