15 lessons for entrepreneurs from Mona Ataya

 Mona Ataya is best known as the founder and CEO of Mumzworld.

She founded it in 2011 and is now one of the leading e-commerce brands in the middle east.
She is also co-founder of bayt .com
She graduated with a dual honors degree in marketing & finance.

1) Lesson one: (It's okay to be different)

Mona says: "It's okay to be different, because leaders are not the same. Leaders are not the herd; They are the ones who dare to be different, who are authentic, in their values and steadfast in their beliefs.

She said this because when she has been accepted for the job they invited her to celebrate, she doesn't drink and they gave her a glass, she turned down the champagne and asked for a glass of water instead, one of the managers said to her that she should've sipped a little rather than refusing.

She didn't like the idea and she said: "that was my first experience with pressure to conform to make the "crowd" happy. she refused to pretend something she doesn't want to, she said my integrity has served me well and it's what I teach to my children.


2) Lesson two: (You need both intuition and data)

Mona says: " As an entrepreneur you really need both: Intuition and data.

Means that you cannot take a risk only based on feelings or intuition only, but backup the hypothesis with data, and you can't take a risk only because the data backs it up.


3) Lesson Three: (being resourceful)

Much of Mona's achievements was because she knew how to be resourceful , how to do great things with very little resources by creating win-win solutions to add value to partners and suppliers.


4) Lesson Four: (Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems)

Mona says: " As an entrepreneur, you're solving problems day in day out "

She basically is talking about your main mission as an entrepreneur; to solve problems, whether work-related problems or main problems that could result in you building a business as a solution for this certain problem or pain point.

So if you're asking what skill you should master as an entrepreneur, it's basically problem-solving.

She says this because when experienced being a mother for the first time, she didn't know where to get products for child care, how to compare prices and find the best deals, she lacked information from experienced mothers as she had no experience, so she basically needed guidance on what to do and what not to do, what to buy and what not to buy.

So she decided to build a platform that solves all the problems a mother could encounter, and that is how she became a very successful entrepreneur.


5) Lesson Five: ( Passion is the key)

When Mona was asked about her advice for entrepreneurs she said:

" Be passionate about your vision, have a clearly thought-out plan and execute fast"


6) Lesson Six: ( Allow your teams to fail )

Mona says: " We give our team members full ownership to run with their ideas "

This is different than what most entrepreneurs think about, unfortunately most entrepreneurs are idealistic, and they think that to make sure their work will be good they check every single action made by their teams , or they give them orders as if they have no brain to think with.

I think it's so dumb to search for smart people to work with and then give them orders, so why did we search for smart team members in the first place?

Also Steve Jobs said: " It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do "

So Mona follows saying: " I tell them just do it, if you're going to fail, make sure to fail fast, learn and fix it, don't execute and fail and then sit and whimper "


7) Lesson Seven: ( Innovation comes from great execution and development )

Mona says: " Innovation comes from continuous iterations of great ideas and unique, exceptional execution "


8) Lesson Eight: (Surround yourself with smarter people)

Mona says: "Another advice is to surround yourself with people smarter than yourself, who have skills that compensate for your weakness "

An entrepreneur could try his best to stack up all skills, but it's only possible to a certain extent, so you always have to hire the best people and people who you believe are smarter than you, and are as good in their roles as good as you are in yours.


9) Lesson Nine: (Trial and Error)

When Mona started this e-commerce project, she had no experience with e-commerce, so they had to give their selves a crash course very early, she says we were always in trial and error mode, we were failing fast, but if they did something and failed in it, they would make sure they won't repeat their mistakes, on the contrary, they would become experts so quickly.


10) Lesson Ten: (Corporate culture is more important than compensation)

Mona says: " What keeps employees in an organization is not the money, that is only one part of it, the other part is the corporate culture and vision, you need to aim so far that you can attract people who are sold on your vision and energized by your purpose, you need to keep reminding them of that vision and the impact you're creating "


11) Lesson Eleven: (What is real failure?)

When Mona was asked about their initial failure she said:

" In that sense, this kind of failure was essential to our success, on the other hand, I think real failure is not trying. It's being apathetic and sitting back and watching. "

She follows: " Real failure is knowing that I can, but I choose not to, or I'm too afraid to try. It is also about not living according to your values and doing things for the wrong reasons"


12) Lesson Twelve: ( Is bootstrapping efficient? )

(Bootstrapping is starting a business without raising fund and using the current resources at hand )

When Mona was asked about bootstrapping she said:

"We work efficiently building our business and being innovative, with the philosophy of building more with less, and in short words that the best practice is to always perform as a bootstrap even if you're well funded , because you need to multiply your business faster, we operate with a bootstrap mentality although we are well-funded, we're here building a long term business.


13) Lesson Thirteen: (Find the right investors)

Mona says: " It's so important to find the right investors because they are your partners, and it's important to be aligned with you strategically, aligned with your vision"

I think that Mona said this because most entrepreneurs care only about raising funds, and doesn't care about where they raise it from or who they have as investors, and the reason it's crucial that you might have a really bright vision and a promising project, but because all that they care about is fast and high returns on their money, they might detach their selves and get you down.


14) Lesson Fourteen: (Your three most important stakeholders)

Mona says: " We as founders are always balancing the focus we give to our three most important stakeholders; Our Customers, Our team, and Our shareholders, and strive always to give adequate attention to each"

She follows:
"Our customers because they are the reason we do what we do.

Our team, because great people build great businesses, and without their tireless effort we cannot build a great brand"

Our investors, because they provide us with the financial and support resources to fulfill our customer promise and employ great people"


15) Lesson Fifteen: (Success is your impact story)

Mona says: " As founders, our success story is the impact story we create for the customer, the employment opportunity we create for our team, and the impressive returns we give to the shareholders for their trust in us"


16) Lesson Sixteen: (Take care of your front line)

When Mona was asked about the importance of customer service she said:

"Customer service is your first line, they are your soldiers, customer service is your anchor, it's where you have to focus your training, and it's where you have to focus your time, It's where you have to focus your budget"

She follows: " Customer service, they are the guys representing you on the phone, they are your ears and eyes to the customer"


That's all for today, I really hope this was helpful and hope that you've learned valuable lessons today, I wish you great success in both personal and professional life, and I hope I could see you here again :)

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