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Q&A with Fadi Boulos

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Fadi Boulos , Founder and CEO @Supportful

How could you describe your career path in few words?

I had a diverse and untypical career path. After my computer engineering studies at college, I went on to earn a Ph.D. in computer science, but then started shifting away from academia and research. I felt that I wanted more business challenges than what an academic career could offer.

I worked for companies in France and in Lebanon, gradually moving from an R&D Engineer to a Project Manager, then into Pre-sales and Business Development. During this period, I honed my business and relational skills, which will prove to be quite helpful later on.

At age 38, and amid the financial crisis that hit Lebanon, I found a mission-driven opportunity that made me quit my job and become an entrepreneur. The mission was to reduce the brain drain the country was suffering from. I set up a company that would provide talent as a service - remotely - to international tech companies.

By doing so, we keep young Lebanese talents in the country. This human asset is crucial for our country's rebirth from the crisis it is in. Further, we help boost the knowledge ecosystem and create job opportunities for Lebanese software engineers.

What was your most challenging experience and it has changed your mindset?

Like for any startup, the most challenging part is finding clients interested in buying your product or service. In our case, Lebanon is not on the software engineering outsourcing map. We had to do quite some work in terms of awareness to convince clients that we have the right talent for them.

Leveraging my personal network and different sales channels, we were able to secure a client base to start our growth journey. The sales experience is one that teaches you humility and patience. Getting No's or not receiving any replies to your emails and calls can affect one's ability to move forward. It will require some resilience to move on and try again and again.

Further, speaking with new clients about your business makes you question your model and your way of work continuously. You might think you have the "silver bullet" product or service, yet you may be selling it to the wrong audience.

It's very important to reflect on what has been achieved and what is yet to come. Like for every challenge, performance assessment is a must and being agile in adjusting and adapting is an asset.

Based on your experiences, what skills should an entrepreneur develop in 2023?

I would say the most important skills for an entrepreneur are networking and organizational skills.

Networking can help founders build a client base, recruit the right team, get advice from mentors, and grow a referral platform. Every encounter could be the start of a fruitful business relationship. Never miss an opportunity to meet people from a relevant audience and learn from them. Do make sure though that you don't spend too much time in events that might not have a return for you.

Being organized will allow entrepreneurs to steer the ship towards the set objective. When you're busy on many fronts with limited resources, you should keep an eye on all actions and make sure their respective KPIs are met. This requires a sense of good organization that – when well implemented – helps relieve founders in their day-to-day work and keep them focused.

I believe good organizational skills contribute to maintaining a sane mental balance. When you know what to prioritize and how to schedule work across the work week, you will never feel overwhelmed. One important tip: tasks should be booked on your calendar, not just put in a to-do list. Based on your recent experiences, if you had one piece of advice for an entrepreneur's success in the context of 2023, what would it be?

Be bold! Grab all opportunities, make all needed calls, send that email, meet this potential lead, attend that conference. Don’t leave room for regret.

Being bold does not mean you should be going about things recklessly. Plan well ahead and study your move to make sure what you are about to do makes sense. But whenever there is this little inner feeling whispering to you "nah, this will not lead anywhere" while your brain pushes you to do it, go for it. Do not surrender to being caged in your comfort zone. It's those small daily actions that will put you - and keep you - on a growth path.

Take the entrepreneurship journey like there's no way back: put your whole mind and soul into making your startup a successful one. You should not be missing any opportunity, and this requires leveraging all channels within your reach: personal circles, social networks, local events, webinars, podcasts, etc. That being said, make sure you keep your physical and mental health in balance.

Serendipity cannot be planned for; it can however be met halfway. By being in interesting places, speaking with relevant people, and giving back whenever you can, serendipity might get closer.

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