“I just earned 8 million rubles. How ordinary I feel”: the success story of Olesya Girou — ” Enerev»
As a rule, a successful business is not born immediately. At first, the owners of companies go through losses and failures, which later help build their business. They learn from mistakes. Olesya Zhiru, head of Enerev company, shares her story: the article is devoted to her personal experience of building and developing a business and how to avoid mistakes in managing your business
I put the phone down. No jubilation, no bending of the knees, no trembling of the hands, no emptiness in the head.
I just earned 8 million rubles. How ordinary I feel.
A year ago, I was in despair, my hands dropped, I could sit in front of the monitor all day and do nothing. My boss shamed me in front of clients, the efforts of 3 years were destroyed by someone else’s incompetence.
And now here it is: I have won. And this is so everyday that it is even strange.
How did it start?
I entered heavy industry at the age of 24. My task was to bring to the Russian market a French manufacturer of equipment for moving gases in heavy industry, which was completely unknown and which was usually 30 percent more expensive than all its competitors.
My resume was filled out with only ” aggravating circumstances»:
first of all, I was a woman in a male profession;
I looked like a first-year student, but I was communicating with the management of factories;
I was not even 30 years old, and my clients were people who started working in the industry before I was born;
I did not have any technical education when working in projects that primarily require engineering knowledge (and a diploma);
this was my first serious job, as a nanny and waitress in College could hardly help me have more weight in the eyes of interlocutors;
I knew absolutely nothing about this sphere.
I’ve been through a lot of things.
Once, at a specialized conference of cement workers in the Carpathians, getting acquainted with a potential client, I honestly answered the question about education: linguistic and marketing. How do I describe the transition of emotion on his face from polite interest to polite disgust, and the speed with which he elegantly ended our conversation?
Another time, when I arrived in the city of Rudny in Kazakhstan, after spending more than a day on the road, tired and exhausted, I went to the office of the chief engineer and heard a disappointed: “We were waiting for a specialist…»
I’m not talking about the number of regular” encouraging ” comments like :” without connections, you will not achieve anything” and “why wouldn’t a girl like that sell dresses or cosmetics?”
I am not telling this story to provoke pity or to grumble about bias or gender equality.
My goal is to show that even with such a seemingly unfavorable set of initial conditions, much can be achieved.
I worked in this position for 7 years.
For 2 years, I brought sales to the level of 1.8 million euros with the required volume of 1 million. For the 3rd year, the sales volume exceeded 6 million euros with the required volume of 2.5.
I learned to understand such areas as commercial international law, logistics, sales technology, marketing, import and export operations, certification, project management and, of course, engineering technology.
And, most importantly, I have achieved the status of a professional in my business, recognized by those people who at the beginning of meetings and presentations addressed me as “Olesya” and “you”, and at the end — after just an hour of conversation-” Olesya Sergeevna “and”you”.
Despite everything, this did not save me from a painful conflict with the management, which forced me to resign.
It was probably the most difficult period of my career. However, he allowed me to fulfill my dream-to open my own business. I probably wouldn’t have taken this step without this disaster at my back.
I expanded my scope of work: in addition to supplying equipment to metallurgical and cement plants, I now worked in energy conservation engineering and project management consulting. I have worked in projects with huge corporations and many participants from different countries. I had employees. I traveled all over Russia and Europe so often that I could navigate some airports with the lights off. I couldn’t believe that I was being trusted to work at this level.
And then it was over. The crisis has forced customers to freeze the projects. The jump in the value of the Euro made the technologies I imported uncompetitive. Frantic attempts to expand the scope of activities to compensate for the failure in the number of projects were unsuccessful. It was the hospitalization due to inflammation that finished everything off, the consequences of which I am still dealing with to this day.
In 2016, after months of trying to save the business and many wasted millions, I was forced to admit that the company would have to close. It lasted 5 years.
What were my main mistakes that led to this?
1. Lack of managerial competencies. I did not properly train my employees. By delegating too much too quickly, I overloaded people who were not able to reach the level needed to work on such complex projects within the time frame I set. Did not help neither the teaching strategies nor the quality of the prepared materials, or the breakdown of processes for the posts. On the one hand, it undermined the confidence and motivation of my team, on the other — it reduced the level of trust among customers. Gradually putting people into work, from simple to complex, and more involvement in projects on my part could make the situation much easier.
2. Incorrect prioritization of my daily activities as a Manager. When you start not just earning money, but trying to build a business systematically, you have to work with a huge number of tasks. Advertising, documents, Finance, management, planning, hiring and training of the team, and this is all usually in addition to what has already been done. It is impossible to tamper everything on a working day, even if it is 12 hours. It is necessary to set priorities and choose what you will do, what you will delegate and at the expense of what it will be done. And here it is very easy to either get caught up in the routine, lose the forest for trees, or go to the other extreme, focusing on strategic tasks and losing sight of urgent matters that lead to the success or failure of the entire company. If your company is less than 5 years old and you are in difficult markets, where the period between the first contact with the customer and the actual receipt of money to the company’s account exceeds a couple of months, the main vector of development should be sales. Not strategies, not processes, not well-established financial systems. Without working sales and an established flow of potential customers with an accurate understanding of how to convert a potential customer to an actual one, your business will not last.
3. Underestimating the impact of macroeconomics on business. A major miscalculation on my part, which seems so obvious in a company whose activities are based on import-export operations.
4. Underestimating the impact of a Manager’s health on business. It always seemed to me that with the right processes in the company and well-coordinated work of the team, the temporary absence of the Director will not be a disaster. And that nothing would happen to me. It turned out that while the company is young, you can live without a Director for no more than a month. And that I wasn’t protected by the magic circle from unforeseen problems that would keep me out of full-time work for years. And that in this case, plan ” B ” is simply necessary.
5. Underestimating your own fears and limiting beliefs. They made me turn a blind eye to the numerous warning bells and stubbornly “hope for the best” and continue to try to implement the old strategies in the new conditions.
Today I have a new company working in the field of heating system management. This time I’m exporting Russian technology to Europe. I am currently working with France and Italy.
Here are some conclusions from my past experience that help me today:
1. You need to become an expert in your business. This will compensate for any of your shortcomings. Many people write about this rather blurry. In my case, this means:
Study the market on the spot. Talk live and meet with potential customers, partners, and anyone who has anything to do with your field. Market research through the marketing research is useful but does not make you a professional. The professional not only knows, he also understands all the undercurrents, which allows him to identify pitfalls at a glance.
Know your product or service better than anyone else outside the company. Not to the level of a designer or installer, of course. But it is good enough that your client, even if he is a real Pro, knows that you know the subject so well that he can rely on you. The customer’s trust is your main capital.
Always keep learning. There is no such moment when a business leader can say: everything, stop. Now I know everything. There are always new areas that will help you.
2. Turn your shortcomings into advantages. After all, all my “aggravating circumstances” from the beginning of my career are serving me well today. The main thing was not to fixate on them, but to work on your own expertise, and also try to see that not everyone thinks that this is a disadvantage.
3. Learn to prioritize and occasionally as if to take a step back to see the big picture. This is extremely difficult, so I use two methods: