Part 1 Of Opening A Business In The World’s Most Insane Country To Open A Business In…

A few years ago I was young and bored and decided to start a blog on my new Cairo adventure… I had a lot of thoughts and I spent many lonely hours talking to myself. I thought (yes that’s all I did…) that I would put those thoughts in a blog, so that other people could hear those super amazing thoughts… It also made me feel like I had friends, because someone somewhere would be reading those thoughts and then comment and it would nearly turn into a conversation. It made me feel a little less lonely and friendless… Now I’m married, old, have a son and I’m starting a business IN CAIRO (in capital letters because its one of the stupidest places to open a business!) so my thoughts are still many, but I have no time whatsoever to write them down… My day consists of being woken up by a little 10 month old, very early in the morning, feeding and playing until he has a nap in the middle of the day and then its playing, feeding until next nap and then its playing and feeding until bedtime… Sometimes my day is so busy I don’t even have time to think… Or rather lets rephrase that because everyone thinks, but I’m more thinking: what shall I feed him next, when is his next nap, how long has he been awake, how long until next feeding, are those stairs dangerous, is that tv dangerous, is he going to break that and so on… So in the few hours a day he naps, I have time to think, and I like to call those hours my mini-vacation… So im really blabbering on here and it’s getting a bit boring, but the point of this babbling is that I rarely have time to blog and this is very frustrating. I do this every time, that I promise to blog more, and then im gone for months… I don’t have time to get in the zone, explode, babble on, and get all my frustrations out in the short time my little one naps… So in order for me to continue to blog I will blog shorter and more often… Bla bla bla, this is so sensible blabber again… Enough of the boring talk, let’s get down to business… Lets get my frustration out!

So as many of you know I’m setting up my own business… Well its my idea, my concept, my everything except my husband is doing all the work right now! I know it’s not exactly the right time to open a business when you have a 10 month old baby, but when is the right time, and I want to prove to everyone that you can do EVERYTHING at once… I know im not a good example at the moment since ive not blogged for like two months, so I can hear you thinking ‘Well she can’t BLOG, set-up a business and take care of her son’… BUT I have actually been travelling a little bit the last month and I’ve been doing THREE nail courses that I’ve had to finish before the opening of the salon…

So this is the situation right now… I’m trying to open the salon, well my husband is flying around the world and when he is not flying, he is running around Cairo trying to get this salon finished. He leaves for Baghdad, Iraq next week, so ill be starting a business alone in Cairo, looking after my son and blogging (of course)… The problem right now is that the salon should have been finished years ago (well actually months but its feels like years!) To make this as easy as possible I shall write what has happened until now in bullet form or else this post will be longer than an encyclopedia…

– February: We found the place and signed the contract. The shopping center promised us a soft opening in March and main opening in May. We decided we would open the salon for the soft opening.

– February: We hired a contractor who gave us a budget and he told us this shouldn’t be a problem, he would only need max a week to get this space done… We are talking about 24m2, so its pretty small…

– March: I go to Norway for a check-up on my little baby and have to rush back home in order to open the salon by the end of the month.

– End of March: Come back from Norway and NOTHING is done… Only paperwork that has not been accepted by the shopping center.

– April: The whole month is spent on paperwork being sent back and forth, between the shopping center and the contractor. We are told that we need to use specific items for the air-condition and other electrical things (contractor language I don’t understand!) so when we agree to change those items the paperwork is finally accepted.

– May: The shopping center still hasn’t opened and we are desperately trying to finish or rather start work on the salon. The contractor is playing hard to get and the shopping center suddenly announces on Facebook to its FANS that they will open at the end of May… NO ONE has informed US, THE OWNERS, anything about the opening… How do they expect to open a shopping center without the owners being informed… It will result in a shopping center where guests can come and check out the design and finishing of the shopping center, maybe use the toilet and then go home, after checking the out the parking…. Sounds like a great place!

– End of May: The shopping center calls us saying that we have to cover the shop entrance by the end of the week, or they will do it and we will have to pay for it… Thanks for the warning… We manage to get a hold of the contractor and he actually manages to move his behind with some workers to the salon to cover the entrance… We decide to go on holiday to Spain before my husband goes off to Iraq for the next 3 months and before we open the salon… While on holiday the shopping center calls us to inform us (finally after reading it on Facebook a while ago!!) that they will open a supermarket along with a few cafes and shops by next week, will we be able to finish?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…. The work hasn’t even been started… We had postponed the opening to August (because we had a lazy contractor who was seriously difficult to get a hold off and) because when we checked out the shopping center the week before, it was obvious that 90% of the shopping center would not be open by minimum August… You can’t just OPEN a salon, you need a team of workers and all of them have to be well-trained before we start working…

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Shop entrance covered!

– Beginning of June: The shopping center opens their doors… Work has still not started, even though the contractor has been slapped in the face several times by my husband…

– Middle of June: Electrical wiring work starts on the salon, after my husband goes back to Egypt from our Spain holiday. The air-condition tubes are supposed to be installed but as the workers try to enter the shopping center they are denied entering… Why, you ask?! BECAUSE the shopping center is OPEN and you may not enter during opening hours when we have customers… So how do you expect us to finish the salon by August if you decide to open early and then not allow us to work on our place?!? I mean honestly, I don’t know what to say… Or rather do…

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Electrical wiring…

– End of June: The contractor has spent the last week waiting on the shopping center to send someone to open up the water for the fire hydrant in the ceiling and fix something for the air-condition to work properly…. Nobody comes, even though they keep agreeing on an appointment… After 7 days of getting appointments and waiting while no one shows up, my husband has to go to the shopping center and demand they fix this problem immediately…

– Beginning of July: Still waiting on the workers from the shopping center, when the shopping center tries to get us to just cover the fire hydrant and fix the air-condition problem ourself… Way to go on the safety side! So you just can’t be bothered to send someone over to our small 24m2 salon, because we are so small we are meaningless!? The contractor can’t fit the ceiling until this is fixed, or can’t fix the walls or paint or can’t lay the floor… SO he basically can’t do anything until they get their behind in gear and do what they are supposed to do…

– This week: The shopping center finally sent someone over to fix the stuff after we threatened to close the whole project down and burn the contract! Now the contractor has started work on the ceiling and the rest of the salon…

The day after tomorrow my husband goes to Iraq for the next 3 months… So I have a half-finished (or actually less than half) salon to deal with and I wont be able to do anything with the government, or contractor or workers as none of them speak English, let alone respect the word of a woman! If I didn’t have my husband to fix absolutely everything for me, I wouldn’t have a salon… I wish I could have done it myself but it’s not possible, I mean even he sometimes calls me wanting to shoot himself having to deal with these people in the shopping center, contractor, government, etc… I probably would, actually im soooooo frustrated just talking about what my husband has to deal with that, I honestly don’t know what I would do… Probably tell everyone to screw themselves and leave the country! Hahaha, not that that solves anything…

So less than a month before our 5 month delayed opening, I have to make sure the salon is finished on time, train the employees, get the salon furnished, well actually EVERYTHING a salon needs except buy the products and make a website… Oh and I managed to finish the 3 nail technician courses a few days ago, so I can get that sent off to England… So yeah that’s my story up until now…

I’m going back to Egypt in two days and im dreading seeing the salon… I don’t even want to think about how much work is left… And im so mentally exhausted from this freaking salon, as I’ve been planning its opening since March… I mean how can 24m2 be such an extreeeeeme pain in the ass!? How can a shopping center be such an extreeeeme pain, and be soooo completely messy with their time management??? Every single cell in my body is sooo tired from talking about this salon, and all the problems that keep getting thrown in our faces… and the extra costs that just keep piling up… Oh yeah that reminds me that last week the contractor suddenly decided that the original budget he gave us was waaay too low, so he will need more money… So what was the original budget for? For me to use the paper you wrote on as toilet paper? For us to burn it in our fireplace? We don’t have a fireplace, but im thinking of getting one with all this bullshit papers being given to us by the contractors, price list for the air-condition that changed in price from the list was printed until we bought it, and the fake contracts from the shopping center that don’t mean anything….

As a conclusion, this is how you open a business in Egypt, Part 1.. We will see if there is a part 2, when or if we ever open the salon… Also known as NEVER EVER EVER EVER think of opening a business in Egypt, if you are mentally sane…

 

So my husband, son and I had an amazing holiday in Spain last month… Here are some pictures to cheer me up!:

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8 Comments

  1. Best of luck on this venture and I hope it soon becomes reality for you. Clearly you win an award for patience, perseverance, drive, motivation and I hope soon,.. for a great nail salon! Hang in there, Cheryl

    1. Wishing you best of luck with your business, lots of patience, I hope there is still some left because you will definitely need more… Egypt is a crazy place, most of the time impossible to deal with.. but what doesn’t break us, makes us stronger.. take care!
      Cheers from Alexandria

      1. Thank you sooo much Agnes! Yeah im definately hoping this makes me stronger and not breaks me! Hahaha, but who knows! If anything else freaky comes my way I might just explode! 🙂

  2. Hej!
    Fann din blogg i samband med google sök angående att jobba i Egypten.
    Superkul att jag fann den! 🙂
    Jag är själv svenska som är gift med en egyptier som har levt mestadels av sitt liv i Dubai där vi också träffades för några år sen. Har också en liten halv egyptisk prins. MashAllah din son är fantastiskt söt måste jag säga.
    Vore kul att komma i kontakt med dig via mail, har själv instagram men tyckte det är lättare att ta kontakt via mail.
    Jag förstår om du inte vill lämna din här på bloggen så jag lämnar min.
    Vore kul att höra ifrån dig. Ha det så bra så länge. Vänliga hälsningar // Sarah. A

    1. Hei Gunilla,
      Saa koselig at du fant min blog! Tusen takk! Saa kult, vi har mye til felles da, med baade mann og barn… Ja Selvfoolgelig hadde det vart hyggelig aa komme i kontakt med deg! Takk for at du leste bloggen min, og gleder meg til aa bli bedre kjent med deg… Kristine

  3. I was convinced to come and see you in your salon in September during my stay in Cairo … !!!
    It would be a good opportunity to meet you and do my nails !!!
    In Italy, when things are going for long we say: MAMMA MIA !!! : (((
    This is really the case ah ah ah !
    Although I know how things go in Egypt, I’m stressed only to read the post, ah ah ah ;))))
    You have a very little boy and he’s similar to you, very nice.
    My 4 years old Karim is similar to my husband !
    In sha’allah in the next months everything will be fine.
    (WE HOPE !!! Fingers crossed…)
    See you soon, CIAO CIAO from
    FRANCESCA, ITALY

    1. Thank you for checking my blog Francesca. I would be super honoured if you could visit me in the salon! Hopefully we shall be open by then, buuuut this is Egypt so you never know! Hahah I will definately tell the shopping center and engineer Mamma Mia next time, and we will see if that changes anything! 🙂 Thank you so much for checking out my blog and your well wishing! Hopefully ill see you soon and your nails will be MAMMA MIA amazing! 🙂

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