With the rapid development of Eastern Europe, she had a sense that there was a lack of quality resources available to companies in both Bulgaria and Romania to establish successful business ventures. In addition to this, she also found that Western companies needed quality advice when trying to business in the Eastern European Market. Put the two ideas together and Bridge Europe Consulting was born…
DS: What inspired you to set up Bridge Europe Consulting Ltd?
OG: Two things inspired me:
(i) The lack of resources amongst Romanians and Bulgarians to develop successful projects,
(ii) the need for provision of professional services at international standards, for Western companies considering setting up operations in Romania and Bulgaria.
On the other hand, i was helping people with advice, as well as contacts – now I do the same, but I charge for it.
DS: Did you have any help setting up the company or were you going it alone?
OG: I set it up entirely on my own. However, I did have few brainstorming sessions with the consultants I work with – these are professionals with various skills, that I outsource specific tasks to.
DS: What was the biggest challenge you faced in bringing your idea to fruition? How was it overcome?
OG: Getting people to pay for consulting services. Persuasion, and development of good relationships with prospective clients always helps.
DS: What makes you most proud about your achievements with Bridge Europe Consulting Ltd?
OG: Even though very young, it is a brand that people already know and trust.
DS: How did you actually fund your business to get it off the ground?
OG: From revenues. The initial investment was extremely low, and we have started generating income from the very beginning. These days, all you need is a laptop with Internet connection, and a mobile phone.
DS: What attributes make a successful entrepreneur?
OG: Drive and hard work. Having a goal and desire for success.
You also have to love what you are doing and to believe in what you are doing.
DS: What do you believe are the necessary elements for a business venture to succeed?
OG: Satisfy a need, find a niche market, have the right ‘offering’ (in terms of packaging, pricing, positioning), have an appropriate action plan, with set targets and milestones. Have the appropriate mixture of skills within the team. Most important, DELIVER!
DS: How essential do you see a University education in achieving success as an entrepreneur?
OG: I do not think it is essential, but I think it is valuable. Higher education gives you a prospective and a structured approach. However, if one has the right attitude, it can be done.
DS: What are the three most important lessons you have learned about business and entrepreneurship?
OG: The three important lessons are:
(1) get things documented – get agreements on paper, do not rely on what people say
(2) execute mandates, and market your services at the same time. Grow your business as fast as you can.
(3) continuously expand your network (of friends, business partners, potential suppliers, anything)
DS: What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Don’t only dream about it! Do it!
DS: What’s the number one book you would you recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs?
OG: I think people need different types of books, so I would rather not say any. It is a matter of taste, but also a matter of personal qualifications, background and understanding. People get motivated and incentivised by different things.
DS: What memorable mistakes, if any, have you made in business? What did you learn from them and how can they be avoided?
OG: Once I hadn’t entirely assessed the client’s abilities and understanding, and I had embarked on a project relying on his professionalism – which I learnt afterwards was totally missing. I ended up spending a lot of time educating the client – which was of course not paid for. From now, I will ensure the client knows exactly what needs to be done and especially, what are his/her responsibilities. It may sound too strong, but I ensure that the client is able to deliver, prior to signing the mandate.
DS: What are the best and worst things about being an entrepreneur?
OG: Best: Freedom, total control of your life. Huge satisfaction when success is reached. Internal fulfillment… and the list can go on.
Worst: you are a small fish in a big ocean. At the very beginning, it is not easy to get people to treat you properly (I mean getting them to take you seriously – and not only when you deliver a report or give advice, but especially when they have to fulfill their contractual obligations). On the other hand, cash flow is instable, so great attention should be given to the cash position in the first year of operations.
DS: Are there any other thoughts, insights, or advice for aspiring entrepreneurs that you’d like to add?
OG: It is a fantastic experience. One cannot realise how rewarding it is, until he/she starts! Once on that path, you will never want to go back to the corporate world!
About the author:
Damien Senn helps entrepreneurs create compelling businesses. He is one of the UK’s top Business Coaches as well as a fully qualified Chartered Accountant.
Damien is the author of the ‘Senn-Sational Success Journal’ and has developed his own coaching model called the ‘Senn-Sational Success System’.
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