Jardine Simpson B.A. (Hons.) - Lecturer at the faculty of management, University of Gdansk

“I would like to say to people: If you want to start, go ahead and do all the stuff, but prepare to do as much homework as possible.”

Δημοσίευση : 2013-04-08
Ο Mr Jardine Simpson είναι καθηγητής στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Gdansk της Πολωνίας. Η Γλυκερία Αντωνάκη μέσω του προγράμματος Erasmus βρίσκεται στο Πανεπιστήμιο για τις σπουδές της όπου προσέγγισε τον καθηγητή. Yποστηρίζοντας πάντα τους νέους και τις νέες πρωτοβουλίες, ο καθηγητής με χαρά άκουσε για το Growing.gr και μοιράστηκε μαζί μας τη δική του εμπειρία και γνώση.

Born in Scotland, Professor Jardine Simpson has been working since he was 15 years old. He has been working for many years in many big companies at the field of marketing, included Unilever. He has been working for 24 years in Poland. He has started up his own company in Poland. Specialized at communication skills, and more specifically in soft skills, Professor Simpson also teaches English for business purposes.

Our Professor is going to discuss with us about people involved in startup companies and their possible relative problems. He will also give us advice and some valuable tips about how to deal with them and of course about how to communicate properly at our “business world”.

At first, Professor shares with us his thought that the big problem about startups is at getting finance:

“In Poland you cannot get finance from a bank. Practically that is difficult. That means that people use their own money. So they may choose to go and work to another country first, in order to get the cash and be able to return here. Another alternative is getting money from the family.”

  • His advice about that is that people have to be very careful, because they may lose everything and then they will have to “clean all the mess” afterwards. He encourages people to have their startup, though.

He can see that the most important thing is that they will have to be very careful when they prepare their business plan. Professor suggests:

They have also to have it checked first by more than one other person, not only by themselves. That person should be very critical and analyze it well. The reason is that even in Poland people may often think about opening one shop and that it will be automatically a business, but unfortunately it’ s not that the case. They don’t see that there may be many other shops as well.”

The knowledge from his experience is that many shops open, but also close after small periods of time, and in this way people may have lost everything. “That happens because they don’t make first a proper research or the proper business plan”, he explains to us.

One very important thing for him is the SWOT analysis

“One very important thing for him is the SWOT analysis, because even if you cross problems, the swot analysis may help you think the reasons from which the problems are coming. So in this way people can take the negative points into account and start to search for the reasons that may have caused them. If somebody starts a business without a business plan or a swot analysis, that seems absolutely crazy, in his point of view.”

  • Be flexible. You cannot expect everything to work. When you are setting up your business, it is not something easy. Something may happen that you don’t anticipate, or even something terrible may happen at the world. So you have to be flexible to avoid being at a bad position.” It is really marvelous to start with a huge success, as Professor Simpson adds, but he suggests that somebody will start with something maybe small. In this way he/ she can gain knowledge and experience and do things at an organic way.
  • The other advice he would like to give to people is that: “Even if your business venture fails, do not take it as a totally negative thing. It is known all over the world that many business ventures fail/ fall away.

So he sums up: “I would like to say to people: If you want to start, go ahead and do all the staff, but prepare to do as much homework as possible.”

  • Do not expect to have immediate success. If you look at big business- and he talks about even multinationals-, they don’t get a return on investment for at least five years. So that means for a normal person that it is also possible.”

“People have to know that they may not be successful at their first or second venture.” That’s why his advice is people to start with a low capital venture, so that they will get confidence and experience.

“In this way you can continue on making an even better business plan and consequently be able to approach more capitals or business angels. You will also have gained experience, because we all learn from mistakes. People don’t magically learn, so we have to learn how things practically work.”

He also mentions about the beginning: “There is another possibility. If you are lucky, you can have a job and at the same time you can start up your own business.”

“That is very popular among young polish people. For example some people may not be totally satisfied with their job, but at the same time they use the internet and build up their own business slowly. That means they don’t have to be terrified of failing, because even if their early startup fails, they still have their original job. So there is another way, especially for today’s situation that funding may not always be successful.”

  • The other piece of advice Professor Simpson would like to give from his experience is: “Find a business to start up with, that it would be possible for you. Maybe in a way that you may not need so much capital from the beginning.”

He gives us an obvious example about that:

“When cleaning shop windows on a main street, what you need is a bucket, a brush, something to clean the windows and you start it. That’s everything, the minimal of cost.”

“Internet is also a good solution”, he continues. “But remember if somebody thinks about using the internet as a startup, many hundreds or thousands or millions of other people will also think about using it at the same time. So think and plan carefully and take into consideration all the criteria involved in that relative area. Find also if the position and the general situation makes it better for you. “

In developed countries, like Britain, France and Germany, the banks will actually give you free startup information and they will give you help with your business plan.

“In developed countries, like Britain, France and Germany, the banks will actually give you free startup information and they will give you help with your business plan. Unfortunately, in countries like in Poland, it doesn’t happen yet, because the responsibilities are put on the shoulders of the individual person. So it is even more important to check all the things out maybe beforehand.”

  • “Nobody can ask for that law, but when starting up, -I would think that being realistic- you have to understand the basics of finance, so that you can realize and understand what the breakeven point is. If all these have been thought, then you can set up your business plan.”
  • One other advice for people is: "Before you start up, it is a good idea to go to another country and get any kind of job. In this way you can gain some capital for the beginning and also you can see how things are done at another area, in another country. Or if you have been living at a very small town, try to move for a while to a big city area.”

He continues: “Experience is a wonderful thing, you cannot buy it, you cannot take it from a book. People have to get personally involved. It is about experience in business, in your own possible business and also in how to deal with other people. Moreover, people are in this way able to compare the situation in the other area with their previous one that they knew and possibly were used to.”

At the end, Professor Simpson advises us about international communication and negotiations respectively, as they are extremely useful in the world of business.

  • “When communicating with other people from different countries, we have to take into consideration differences that we may have at our cultures. Basically, for example, people in the northern Europe tend to be colder. On the other hand, in the southern Europe people tend to be warmer and more relaxed. That’s in general, but there are individual differences of course. In reference to the banks, everything tend to happen very formally.”
  • “There are different ways of dealing with negotiations”, Professor admits and starts revealing to us some important hints on negotiating. “People say that you can learn about negotiating just by doing it. But if you are negotiating with somebody experienced, you have to use some techniques.

“First of all, it is very important for any negotiator to have been well- prepared.” That means, according to our Professor, that negotiators should make a plan and also a research about the opposite number and his or her business before the negotiation starts. Moreover, negotiators should decide on a range of objectives and know their negotiating limits and their reasons a priory as well. After all these, the strategy should be planned also very carefully.”

The suggesting techniques are the following:

  • Rapport: Try to establish a good rapport with your opposite number from the moment you first meet, whether or not you already know each other.. Some general “social talk” is a good ice- breaker and bridge- builder in this respect.
  • Parameters: Confirm the subject/ purpose of your negotiation early on and try to establish areas of common ground and areas of likely conflict before you move on to the bargaining/ trading stage.
  • Listen!: Listening attentively at every stage of your negotiation will help to avoid misunderstanding and create a spirit of cooperation.
  • Attitude: Be constructive not destructive- treat your opposite number with respect, sensitivity and tact, and try to avoid an atmosphere of conflict. This will create a feeling of harmony and goodwill, which should encourage a willingness to compromise and ultimately lead to a productive negotiation.
  • Approach: Keep your objectives in mind- and try to keep a clear head. This will help you concentrate on your key points. Try to resist the temptation to introduce new arguments all the time. Use the minimum number of reasons to persuade your opposite number, coming back to them as often as necessary.
  • Flexibility: Be prepared to consider a range of alternatives and try to make creative suggestions for resolving any problems. Be prepared to make concessions and to compromise, if necessary, to avoid deadlock- but don’t be pushed beyond your sticking point.
  • Review: Summarize and review your progress at regular intervals during the negotiation. This will give both parties a chance to check understanding- and, if necessary, clarify/ rectify any misunderstandings.
  • Agreement: When you have reached agreement, close the deal firmly and clearly. Confirm exactly what you have agreed- and any aspects/ matters that need further action.
  • Confirmation: Write a follow-up letter to confirm in writing the points agreed during your negotiation and clarify any outstanding matters.

Last but not least, in reference to the suggesting language during the process of negotiation, it should be based on both simplicity and clarity.

Professor Simpson advises us about the language used at negotiations the same he often says also to his students at the classrooms: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand.”

That seems to be always very important in any case..

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