I started my little consultancy in early 2003, it was not as smooth sailing as I would like to see, however it had worked, we are approved by ministries around the gulf countries, we are going everywhere, we are in most exhibitions around the area, we are visiting schools and speaking in many occasions about higher education and careers, wee re writing blogs, and been interviewed more often than not, we are paying the bills and salaries, we are publishing magazines about education around the world and we are in Business.
So what stresses me out? do we have good systems in place to cater for difficult times? do we have a contingency budget? do we have a process to cover us when staff move? do we have enough to run the consultancy for a year? do we have a staff handbook? do we have an exit policy? well, I can say yes to all of these points. Please note that I didn’t have an experience of running own business as most of my experience was in working in either government ministries, public companies or public institutions, where you are paid whether you performed or not (many of these places care about what time you are coming in the morning and what time you are leaving in the evening; you could be doing nothing in between, but who is to know right?) however I got promoted, which means that I have been doing well at my job and reached the ranks, my last job was director of planning and finance, which was huge as I was responsible for the budgets and finances of the largest faculty in the institution. So I will not say that I had no idea of running a business, its only that I never ran my own business but always wanted to. My dad had his own business, and he always used to complain, but at the end he mellowed down as he must have realised that his business also had all what takes to stay afloat. (PBUH)
A bit of history will not hurt anyone, so here it goes: First we were debating to start a little cafe and jam and pickles products made from the produce of our own farm, which will be organic. When we ran the finances for this, we figured that even though I am very good in baking and making pickles and jams (those of you that didn’t try my stuff are missing out) but not good enough to pay for the farm and the labour, plus the cost of the farm itself. And then the opportunity for study abroad company came about in the living room of our house in Hamilton. My husband was watching the devastation of 9-11 and he thought loudly that bringing students to New Zealand is a good idea. I took the idea on board, and slashed it to pieces, my daughter (then 12) made the business plan, and we went around to all the universities to sign agreements, while my husband went back to Dubai to start the office. We are now 14 years in the business and everything is smooth sailing despite my stress.
Most of my stress showed up when a staff member leaves as I keep on thinking how to replace him or her; I had few of my top team members leave (not at once of course) but over all we do not have a great turnover; so my worry focuses around the ability of finding a person as good, would the new person understands my philosophy and idea of the consultancy, would he or she like me (this is very important of course as I can be terrible at times), would the new person be good with the paper work? would the new person like the students? and so on of the questions that come to my mind. Of course I don’t want to mention the array of advices that I receive from everyone and I don’t take them home unless of course they are very good. So all in all I must not be stressed, all I need is to trust myself, and go on.
Off late though I am thinking of moving back to my country, so now that I am moving as well as introducing new staff member to the team as the previous one had found a better opportunity, I think all I can say here is that it will all be fine and a little bit of stress doesn’t kill the cat. But a double stress?? who wants that.
This blog should not hamper you from starting your own business, I am a big believer of working for oneself, and in fact I speak to students around the world about this preference, no one wants to be tied up to a place, but you want to be tied up to your own space.