Tag Archives: business

Going into business

So as I had to quit my job back in May (for many different reasons, not just the cost of childcare), I now find myself with a tiny bit of time in my hands. Not during the day. No, daytime is taken up entirely by looking after the children. But I find myself wanting to do something else with my spare time. Checking on facebook, browsing the web and watching TV series can get a bit tedious when that is ALL you ever do with your evenings.

So I have decided to turn my hobby of cardmaking and papercrafting into a business! My facebook page, which until now was there only to showcase my creations, now is open for business and I am taking commissions!¬†My personalised paper bunting is my most liked product. So popular that within a week of “opening” the business I already have two commissions! And I so excited about it. ūüôā

I have ordered a custom logo stamp and also an order book to keep track of all my orders (if only!) and I am expecting to be making at least one a week if things go well. I haven’t timed me yet, but I guess that it takes me approximately 2 and a half hours to make an average sized one, back to back. (Average size is 5 or 6 letters – most names are 5 or 6 letters long)

So wish me luck in this new venture, and if you’re ever in the lookout for a handmade and personal present, please come by my shop!

Jacob - Bunting

Trip to Bogot√°, Part I

So, my trip to Bogot√° is now done and dusted, and I must admit that it wasn’t as traumatising and difficult as I thought it would be. My original fears of having to use my Spanish in a professional environment and using it in a technical way did materialise and I struggled a tiny bit in a couple of¬†occasions, but overall I survived.

There are two main aspects to my trip to Bogot√° that I want to talk about: Business and Pleasure. Today I will talk about the business side.

I was very pleasantly surprised about the level of professionalism that I saw. It’s not that I was expecting anything less (well, maybe I was), but Bogot√° is a city with so much contrast that you can’t help but marvel at how seriously business is conducted there.

We visited several offices of several people (lighting designer, integrator, light fitting manufacturer, etc) and everywhere there was a sense of ¬†seriousness and of ¬†“we know what we are doing”. Colombians don’t muck about when they are doing business. BUT, they will always maintain a very relaxed atmosphere and conversations may quickly change to a more lighthearted topic temporarily.

Something else that impressed me was the tidiness of all the offices we visited. If you came to my office in England, something that would strike you straight away is how untidy it looks. As my boss would say, it is a functional office: everybody has big desks with space for big A1 or A0 drawings and this space is definitely used. There are drawings and papers and other materials laying around and it gives the impression of a cluttered and unkempt office (exactly what it  is).

The other side of the coin of this, however, was the building site that we visited. There is no sense of Health and Safety and I was stunned to see so many irregularities (so many of them that in England that building site would have been shut by the H&S authorities in less than one minute). I talked to my Colombian host about it and his answer was so unbelievable that I am still struggling to believe it: He said that labour is so cheap that if someone gets hurt it’s easier to just replace them rather than waste time to make them safe in the first place (!!!).

No safety barrier for a whole in the wall

This proves something else that I found interesting. Colombia has got a very defined hierarchy system. Social strata is something so common that nobody questions it. I noticed it during the first five minutes of the first meeting that we had. Jorge, our host, called his assistant and she replied “Si, se√Īor” (yes, sir). This happened many times in that first day, that made me start paying more attention to those little details. And I was in for a shock. People will call you “doctor” when they don’t know your title. So if you look like a professional person but the person who is addressing you doesn’t know your title then they will call you “doctor” or “doctora”. In the professional field, people will address each other by their job titles (in formal situations). So if you’re an engineer, people will call you “Ingeniero P√©rez”, for example. If you’re a lawyer, you will be called “Abogada Crespo”, etc.

Also, the great majority of people will speak a decent amount of English. In the professional environment this is quite a given, and we only came across one person who didn’t speak it, but did understand it. Obviously, I still had to translate backwards and forwards, especially when my boss used dark analogies (he loves analogies), or Spanish people were trying to translate literally from Spanish and the meaning got a bit lost (particularly with sayings and proverbs).

That Colombia has had (and still has) a problem with security in the streets is a well known fact. But nothing can prepare you to the sight of armed security personnel everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. Every office has their own security guard, and most roads in the business districts and centres have got police and dogs (the dogs are for bombs as well as drugs). It is a shock, but it did make me feel more secure, and I take it that’s the whole purpose of it (as well as catching criminals!).

All in all, it has been a good experience – work-wise, and who knows if we will have to go back some time soon!

More than a hobby?

I recently made another birthday card for a member of my family. She is a goth and loves anything gothic, steampunk, fantasy-like, etc. So the card I made was in the style that I thought she would like. I made it in less than an hour. From imagining it, to designing it, to putting it together.

Card for Adrienne

She really liked it and she insists that I should sell my cards online. There are a few websites that specialise in selling hand made crafts. Which would be a great idea, however:

1) I simply don’t have the time. I get home too late and have to go to bed too early. The only spare time I have, I don’t “waste” by sitting on a desk (okay, I do.. facebook and spaniards are NOT wasting time…)

2) I don’t mind making 1, 2 or 10 cards just for fun. If for whatever reason I don’t finish a certain card, I can always pop into Clintons and buy a pretty one instead. No one knows any different and no one gets hurt. ¬†But making cards as a business has other implications. At the point when some one is expecting a bespoke-hand-made card from me, if I don’t deliver not only do I get unsatisfied customers, but also puts pressure on me not to disappoint people.

The thing is that the idea is still fluttering in my head. I wonder if it would be worth trying.

Wandering around the web earlier I found the blog of a girl who makes gorgeous cards and sells them in one of the websites that I was talking about earlier. Seeing her blog has been a great inspiration to make me take a¬†decision¬†and I think that I am going to give it a go. I can create several types of cards, from Christmas to birthday cards, and when I’ve got a few I can upload them to the website and see what happens….

Of course it will only be a test and I don’t expect to make any money out of it, although if could at least break even and not LOSE money then that would be fantastic.

Apart from this little adventure that I have set myself for this year, my next project will be a Steampunk birthday card for Chris later on this month… Let’s see what I come up with!

Build your vocabulary (Part III)

Well, first of all, Happy New Year to all my readers! It was a very short break (or at least it felt short to me) and now I am finally back to normality.

The word that I want to talk about today as part of the “Build your vocabulary” series is not actually a word, but an acronym. It’s EMEAS.¬†It’s a slight variation on the better known EMEA. But since most of you won’t know what it means, I’ll explain.

I already told you all that there were going to be some new changes in the new year regarding work. It is now official, and I can now say that my little, family-owned, company has been bought up by a big multinational French company. They have plans for us, and part of this big plan is that we look after the EMEAS.

During the presentation that I attended, it took me a little while to realise what EMEAS meant, and I finally deduced it out of context. EMEAS little brother, EMEA, is better known around the business world and it means: Europe, Middle East and Africa. The one that we will be looking after has got an S at the end, standing for South America.

I have spoken to my boss and have asked him how my role is supposed to change with the new set up within the new company, and apparently I am going to be more customer-focused, visiting more people and doing more presentations. Well, my heart is undecided about this piece of news. I HATE talking in public. When I talk, my heart pounds in my chest so loudly that sometimes I think people are going to notice. I get all fidgety. I sweat.

On the other hand, I fancy some travelling around the world. I haven’t been to many places and I always fancy seeing new countries and meeting new people. I am aware, however, that travelling for work purposes is not the same than travelling for pleasure. But I can make some concessions, that’s okay.

But I can only wait and see what future has in store for me…

EMEA MAP

I survived my one-day trip to Madrid

Earlier last week the managing director of my company approached me and asked me if I could help with something important. He told me what the situation was and made me a proposal.

The situation.
The very first KNX International Forum was taking place in Madrid that week. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the CEO of our company -who originally was the one to attend- had to cancel and our managing director was going to attend in his place. Due to even more unforeseen circumstances, the managing director could not attend either. Apparently, anyone else was simply too busy to even think about going.

The proposal.
The proposal was that I did go and make the presentation on behalf of the company. Why me? Apparently, the main reason why they chose me is because I am Spanish!

Hell!

My first reaction was “Thanks, but no thanks” (actually, it was also more like “No fucking chance“) but after speaking for a while with our managing director, I kind of changed my mind. On one side, I felt I didn’t want to let the company down, and on the other, I thought it was the opportunity that I had been waiting for to do a bit of geeky KNX networking myself.

This proposal brought up the eternal dichotomy in me: I am an extrovert but I am also very introvert. I am cheeky and I am shy. I am talkative and I am quiet. I want to believe that I think positive, but sometimes I am negative. I kept thinking that the negative side of me would take over and that made me nervous. Very nervous.

But then I thought: Come on. You’re 32 years old now. You’re not a little girl any more. You don’t need anyone by you all the time holding your hand. Be strong, be brave.

My conditions to accept this proposal were two:
– I wanted to go as late as possible (I landed at 7pm) and I wanted to be back as soon as possible too (I was back in Barajas by 1pm the following day)
– The presentation had to be done in English. There was no way I was to talk about KNX for half an hour in Spanish. No chance.
My conditions were accepted and a few hours later I was on a plane to Madrid!

This has been the very first time that I have been to Spain in a no-holiday situation. Since I left for the UK, I’ve only been back “home” for holidays and little breaks to see friends. I’ve been to Malaga, Motril, Granada, Alicante, Valencia, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, and every time I went there I¬†was¬†in holiday mood. This time, however, I felt different. I felt like an important business woman in an important mission. I was looking back at my own country with different eyes, I was noticing different and exciting things.

The expercience was unique and really positive. I did my geeky networking around, I met some interesting people, I learnt a few things about speaking in public and everybody congratulated me after I had delivered my speech.

Now it’s done I can say: Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. However I am not completely sure that I want to see myself in that same spot any time soon.