“You acquire entrepreneurial skills by doing things in a practical way; although there are great resources, they will only give you information,” said Peter Davos, 43, an American expat who has lived in Dubai for more than a decade.
He recalled his growing up years when he got the best education and life skills by watching and working with his father, a self-made entrepreneur.
“My dad was a lifelong entrepreneur, and I learned from him about money management, innovation, risk-taking, and perseverance. He taught me that you can accomplish anything with a hard work and a vision. Everything I learned through formal study was secondary.”
Davos started working at the age of 12 and became an entrepreneur at 33.
His father had told him that because no one owed him anything, so he had to earn a living through his growing years. He worked from shoveling snow in the neighborhood after a snowstorm with his friends in the American city of Boston to selling magazine subscriptions door to door.
I worked in a video store, cafe, on-campus restaurant, and bookstore in college, then in real estate development and brokerage offices.
He also worked in a video store, cafe, on-campus restaurant and bookstore at the university, and later in real estate development and brokerage offices. “I also learned the importance of interpersonal skills and how to deal and communicate with people.”
He said, “Always remember the people who have helped you along the way, show gratitude and be a sponge for knowledge. You can only learn by reading, doing, and interacting with people who are smarter, more experienced, and more successful than you. . I have always actively sought knowledge in these ways and still do.”
Another invaluable resource for him was membership in EO, a global organization for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. He said: “I joined their accelerator program (which provides business support for startups) for budding entrepreneurs and was their first graduate in the UAE.
“Without the support of my accelerator mentor, Mathew Mazhuvanchery, I would never have graduated to membership in the premier EO organization, which I have been a part of for five years.
“Being an entrepreneur is the loneliest job in the world and realizing that my problems weren’t unique and having the support and insight of other EO entrepreneurs has been invaluable.”
Why did you start your business in the education sector?
Education has been central to Davos’ journey and he has dedicated his life to empowering students to enjoy the same privilege as he did.
He said: “I was fortunate enough to study at Johns Hopkins, the London School of Economics (LSE), Oxford and Harvard. I am a first generation college graduate, an American and the son of Greek immigrants.
“I realized a gap in Dubai regarding the support students needed and what was available to them. When I started ‘Hale Education’ it was just me for the first year – zero staff. Now, for ten years, that’s all I’ve done – and I hope to continue to do so with the support of our incredible and growing team.”
“Hale Education Group” supervises and guides students who wish to study in universities in the United States and Canada.
How did you fund the business?
Davos initially self-funded the business using his savings, investing Dh500,000 to get the business off the ground.
“I ran the operation from the beginning. As my business is focused on education consulting, the main initial expenses were rent, licenses, marketing materials, technology (website and software licenses), professional licensing and education made up most of my running costs.”
Davos shares the lessons he learned becoming an entrepreneur.
Lesson #1: A successful business loses money the first year, breaks even the second year, and then makes a profit the third year.
“I wish I had this idea before I started. I was unprepared for the time it would take to generate sustainable income to the point where I would have positive cash flow.
I had initially self-financed the business using my savings, investing 500,000 Dh to get the business off the ground.
“Even with relatively low overhead, I spent money much faster than expected and should have budgeted twice the expenses. My income was much slower in coming than I ever could have. I made Dh10,000 in the first four months, and I don’t think I made Dh100,000 top line in the first year.”
Lesson 2: Have enough money to sleep at night, which helps weather the most violent and unexpected storms.
Davos said he has faced unexpected new challenges every day since he was in business, from day one. “Starting a business is like raising a child; once you feel you have mastered a particular phase, the business grows a bit, you enter a new phase and you have to learn new lessons. You have to adapt and constantly innovate.
“For example, some companies thrived during the pandemic because they could adapt and innovate quickly, while others were crushed because they couldn’t. Often through no fault of their own, simply because of their space.
Therefore, having enough cash helps weather the most violent and unexpected storms. “I have been fortunate that my business is focused on one-on-one advice, so the transition to providing online services has been seamless during the pandemic.”
Lesson #3: Hard work will win out over talent every time, but you need both to be successful as an entrepreneur.
Davos considered him successful because of his unshakable belief that he was born to do what he does now. “I never lost faith in my core belief. Without that faith and the support of my wife, I would never have survived past second grade,” he said.
“I worked primarily in real estate, where I learned the value of strong mentors and hard work. In my previous job, working for a real estate capital markets firm, we had mandatory 6:30 a.m. meetings in the morning and we had to work at least twelve hours a day.
“It was a walk in the park compared to the demands of being an entrepreneur because, at least at this job, I could log out when I left the office. Now I have to consciously try to log out – which is always a challenge but empowering the right team members becomes easier.”
What was your strategy for maintaining investments and savings?
“My business is my investment vehicle and I own my own home. However, I’m not very diverse, for better or worse. My kids are 2.5 and 5, but I have a structured savings plan for children for their college expenses before they are born.”
As a monetary rule, it follows: “Never incur bad debts – that is, always pay off your credit card balance, don’t take out loans against depreciating assets – and don’t Don’t be afraid to take on good debt for a good reason.Always own your own home.
Finally, he said to treat every mistake as a learning experience and every failure as a step towards success.