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Munira Ishak
Franchise Business Owner,  Travel Counsellors UAE
Founder, Prioritised by Munira Ishak PMP

I took a bold move in 2019 to switch my career from an engineer to a small business owner. As a corporate employee who managed various portfolios such as engineering, commercial and relations, business management and international projects for thirteen years, I was intrigued by the enthusiasm of business owners, their vision and determination.

Throughout my observation, I learned that managing a business required a whole new level of skillsets, discipline, and constant learning. I realised that success was not derived from a linear line but through accumulated experiences and diligent thought processes. It made me wonder if there was something that I could do to add value to my personal growth. With good people management skills and network at hand, I was confident and decided to set-up a business here in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Knowing my options

For a start, before making my decision on the type of business that I wanted to do, I spent at least a year on research to understand the business options, requirements and processes to set up a business here in the UAE. I wanted to pursue something independent, without having to operate as a full company with employees.

I was ecstatic to know that there were three readily available business options or licenses that met my requirement. So, I studied these in detail before making a choice.

Making the right choice

With all the options at hand, I figured that the best model that would work for me was becoming a franchisee, simply because I was new to business, and I knew that a franchise would be able to provide me with the right leverage.

My next approach was to decide on the industry, as such, I revisited my interests to weigh the pros and cons before deciding. As a travel enthusiast, I pursued my passion within the travel industry with a clear vision to provide people around me with meaningful travel experiences. I surveyed the market and became an independent franchisee of an established travel franchise and brand, Travel Counsellors.

As an independent franchisee, I was able to benefit from an excellent support system, a readily available strategic business model, an extensive network in the region and a wide array of training and on-the-job learning opportunities. This not only prepared me for the future of travel business but granted me the leeway to focus better on my personal branding and niche.


Becoming a franchisee was one of my best business and investment decisions, though a tedious learning journey. The lessons were a plenty and good for aspiring entrepreneurs to be aware of. Below are some notable ones:

  • The whole process of setting up a business regardless of type, including identifying the location that you would want to operate from (which Emirate, free zone, or mainland) can be very complex. Hence, it is crucial that that one spends sufficient time on research and get the right assistance, before diving in.

  • A new entrepreneur would greatly benefit from having a wide network of professionals or experts such as lawyers, financial advisors and marketing and creatives experts amongst others, to provide with the relevant advice required in those areas before building and expanding the business.

  • It is always key to remember that there is a large business fraternity that is always ready to offer a helping hand so that each business can grow together. One need not thrive alone.

  • Existing business networks or relevant associations are a good avenue to seek the necessary support. The Malaysian Business Council is one such example amongst many others.

It is never too late to start a business in the UAE especially with the vast start-up opportunities available for a variety of trade. The road ahead may seem windy in the beginning, but the right knowledge, understanding and network would set any aspiring entrepreneurs on the right course.

Article written by Munira Ishak PMP

Munira is a valued member of the Malaysian Business Council, UAE. After building her personal brand as a Franchise Business Owner of Travel Counsellors UAE, Munira has also founded a Project Management Services business, Prioritised by Munira Ishak PMP which focuses on Project, Public Relations and Marketing Management Services for small businesses.

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