Bushra Ezzeddine, Founder & CEO, Team 71 Group
As time changes, the rise of female entrepreneurs around the globe have demonstrated that women in business are competitive and capable of success. Women entrepreneurs are building successful businesses in a male-dominated world by breaking the stigmas, empowering women, and making a positive impact on the economy. Today, the world is consistently recognizing and welcoming driven and ambitious women to harness their dreams. One such women entrepreneur, who has admirably persisted through thick and thin and has emerged as a beacon of inspiration, is Bushra Ezzeddine.
Bushra is an events and destinations marketing expert with a strong vision and proven track in project management, events calendar creation, festivals planning & tourism fields. Throughout her career, Bushra has consulted successful projects and applied her persistent perfectionism to a plethora of high-profile campaigns and experiences in the UAE and beyond. She is the Founder & CEO of Team 71 Group, a creative agency that strives on building distinct experiences in the realm – Events, Entertainment & Films.
Entrepreneurial Spirit since Childhood
The relationship between a father and his child is beyond care and love. Fathers influence their children to be confident to express themselves, and help set expectations, along with ambition and competitiveness. As a young girl, Bushra watched her father turn into an entrepreneur by building a successful business despite his basic education level. Her father’s dedication, drive, and grit which ultimately led to his success, inspired Bushra to become an entrepreneur. Bushra aspired to follow in her father’s footsteps later in life. She says, “Growing up alongside my father sparked the flame within me to become an entrepreneur one day myself.” After graduating from university in Lebanon, Bushra was determined to gain experience outside the family business. So, regardless of whether the role was paid or not, Bushra jumped into it headfirst. Eventually, she dabbled in sales, administration, accounting, banking, and microeconomics. She adds, “Every job and every rejection were setting me up for my own entrepreneurial journey.”
Soon, Bushra moved to Dubai from Lebanon with her husband in 2004. After having her first daughter, she decided to return to the workplace to gain different experiences in a foreign country. The socially savvy entrepreneur worked in various reputable entities such as Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and Dubai Tourism molded her skillset in the planning and operations aspect of a business.
The Story of TEAM 71
Bushra says, “The inception of TEAM 71 did not just come about, it wasn’t random, it wasn’t a “let’s see what’s going to happen”- I was planning it for years. Given all the experiences I have been through, I had the vision of filling a gap in the market by creating a company that offers unconventional, creative, unique, and bold work.” Bushra has lived in the UAE for more than 15 years, so coming up with the name for the business was simple. She knew she wanted to incorporate some of that into the name, hence the “71” in the name. The UAE was united in 1971 marking the beginning of the great nation and Bushra wanted TEAM 71 to grow into that powerhouse.
“I believed in my vision so much that I refused any outside investment and put MY money where my mouth is and used my life’s savings to establish TEAM 71. I knew that having a goal will eventually translate into monetary income and the goal was simple: Offering creative and quality services created with passion,” asserts Bushra. Finally, the journey began with door knocking and calls. The distinctive work of TEAM 71 was soon trusted by more clients who turned into loyal customers. She says, “Those clients recommended us to their network and that’s how we started as an events agency and rapidly grew to a boutique creative agency that we are today.”
The culture of TEAM 71 is really enjoyable and fun as it involves working with creatives. The meetings are always filled with crazy ideas, and laughter and no input is ever looked down upon in the company. Bushra’s main pet peeve in the corporate workplace from her past experiences was micromanagement and a lack of trust, which ultimately led to a toxic environment, so her first mission was by eradicating these issues in her company.
Achieving a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Every story has its own set of challenges and Bushra’s life is no exception. Being a mother of two young children who look up to you for guidance at every step of the way made finding the perfect work-life balance initially challenging for Bushra. She expresses, “Starting my own business felt like having a third child that needed my time, attention, and also a lot of patience.” The ardent entrepreneur quickly mastered the art of multi-tasking and rapidly grasped the concept of time management. She adds, “To me, most important was to always put family first and I am blessed to have a husband who is more than a helping hand. Knowing that a work-life balance is important to me, I know it is important to my team as well. I believe that spending time with their families will increase productivity and culture.”
Bushra says that working in a fast-paced industry in a progressive country that always seeks innovation which keeps us on our toes, every day is different, so a routine is a word we don’t abide by. Today’s schedule is different than yesterday’s and yesterday’s is 100% different than tomorrow’s schedule. “As a creative, it is in my nature to be a night owl, that’s when I work best, meaning that I can’t remember the day I got a full 8 hours of sleep. I start my day by sending my now teenaged kids to school as every mother.” She then enjoys a wonderful hot cup of black coffee while reading emails and going through the day’s itinerary, which includes meetings, zoom calls, creative sessions, team calls, and brainstorming sessions all before lunch. Bushra’s afternoons are typically locked for site visits and dealing with the business’s financial side, which involves dealing with everyone’s favorite “Excel sheets”—budgets, tax returns, payments, invoicing, and quotations. “My schedule always has breathing space for the adhoc, last-minute requests from clients. We try to be as flexible as possible with our clients, and we take pride in maintaining strong relationships with them. We see our clients more like partners rather than a client-agency relationship; I like to think that we are all one team with our partners seeking the same outcome,” states Bushra.
The first thing Bushra learned as a brand-new player in the market was to expect the unexpected. From the client’s perspective, Bushra assumed that approaching potential clients would be simpler because they already knew her and she knew them. On the contrary, the first persons to turn their backs on her were the ones she had anticipated getting her work. “Our first job came from the people I least expected to support me. I will always be grateful to the clients who believed in my vision and gave me the trust to show them what I knew I could offer all along,” shares Bushra.
She also realized the importance of having a strong team because working alone would never allow the company to achieve the success she had envisioned. TEAM 71 is all about delegation, trust, tenacity, flexibility, and working together as a creative team, which provides them an advantage over the competition. That realization was the final ingredient in her recipe for a successful business.
According to Bushra, every day is unique just like every project is; they each have their own unique obstacles and setbacks as well as unique strategies for overcoming them. She believes that nothing worthwhile ever comes easily and that success after a struggle is all the more satisfying.
Defining Benchmarks of a Leader
Henry Ford, an American industrialist, and business magnate once said, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind and not with it.” Despite the initial difficulty, TEAM 71 survived the turbulence and is now on autopilot.
Bushra believes that entrepreneurship is all about believing in your vision and working hard to achieve it. Taking risks is an ongoing part of this journey. As an entrepreneur, you will have to accept the fact that there is no right decision sometimes and sometimes there will be a setback, but the main takeaway here is to learn from that and not let it define you. Stand up stronger and taller every time you seem to hit a hurdle and most importantly, learn, learn, and learn some more! She encourages entrepreneurs to invest knowledge, time, experience, and network to build and grow their businesses. Bushra says, “To me, the most important values as a leader are a passion for what you do, determination to reach your goals, trust in your team, loyalty to the vision, and lastly, leading by example.”
Her words of advice to women aspiring to be entrepreneurs are, “Do not listen to nay-sayers, believe in yourself, surrounded yourself with positive and supportive people, and most importantly be determined. Accept the fact that you will face rejection but do not let this affect you. It is the most exciting rollercoaster ride you will embark on in your life and it sure is worth it.”
Beholding the Future
As a smart entrepreneur, Bushra has her future designed and has already begun a shift in the business. She aims to be one of the leading creative agencies in the region. She shares, “I know it sounds cliché, but the sky is NEVER the limit. Nothing can stop you if you have the right vision and a passionate team. We have achieved a lot since the inception of TEAM 71. We delivered big projects that most established and bigger companies can’t do. We are fortunate to have worked with big brand names and clients from day 1 which does not rule out us working with or for any other client. We give every project the same dedication, time and attention no matter its scale.”
“As a woman, raised by a powerful woman I like to empower women, whether it is an employee, a recruit, or a project where we can add a powerful message to women, this clearly shows in most films we have created where we favor strong women over male roles showing that women CAN do amazing things. I have always been an advocate for women’s empowerment; I don’t think it is a coincidence that 90% of our team are women. Women are great when it comes to multitasking and problem-solving,” expresses Bushra.