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Running a small business

What challenges, apart from the obvious financial ones, what kind of challenges do you face?
Jul 06,2015

Jackie: For this week's podcastsinenglish.com business podcast I'm talking to Simon about running a small business. Hi, Simon.

Simon: Hi

Jackie: Simon, can you start by just telling us the business that you have?


Simon: Yes. It's called English for Business and I've been running it here for ten years.


Jackie: Right, okay.


Simon: Er… and it serves the business community of Lisbon.

Jackie: Okay, because you’re living in Portugal.

Simon: Yes


Jackie: It's a small business, isn't it?

Simon: Small business, yes.

Jackie: Do you have any employees?


Simon: Er… we have some part-time employees, yes.

Jackie: Right, but it's mainly a one-man show, isn't it?

Simon: Yes

Jackie: What challenges, apart from the obvious financial ones, what kind of challenges do you face?


Simon: You have to do everything. S. you have to be er… capable of running all aspects of the business. Um… so I do my own books, I do the accounts er… I recruit when I need to, I do marketing, sales, etc. So you have to be er… capable of doing all aspects of the business basically.


Jackie: But that must be interesting as well?

Simon: It is and it's good fun. It is.

Jackie: So there are definitely benefits.


Simon: Yes. I've learned how to do a lot of things.  Um… and as I say it is good fun so as long as you see it as a positive then all the challenges are there in front of you and you tackle them each day as they come.


Jackie: How do you see the business developing?


Simon: It's a little difficult um… because if I want to develop the business, then I'll have to take on more people. Er… it's difficult to find suitable talent. Staff, no but talented staff, yes. I have what I would call a niche market within English for business for the business community. Um… I work with law firms, predominantly law firms. I have about twenty corporate clients and I would say maybe as much as 50 to 60% of that is er…. big law firms.


Jackie: So that's a specialised topic.


Simon: It's a specialised niche topic where you have to be on the ball. These are high level users of English, already very competent and they need a certain kind of teacher. They need to know about the law, they need to be experienced teachers, not just qualified and they need to have something about their character that allows them to um…  boss the classroom as it were, with highly confident people who are used to bossing their own environment.


Jackie: You mentioned that most of your work involved er… law companies, law firms, what other… what other companies do you deal with?


Simon: I work with a very famous UK chocolate producer which has recently been ‘eaten’ by an American brand, er… that is Cadbury.


Jackie: Yes


Simon: Which is now calling itself Kraft. Er… I work with management consultants, with auditors and accountants and I work with various consumer brands, a very big American toy producer um… so quite an interesting spread for me if I'm doing the majority of the teaching, that’s quite nice as well.


Jackie: So it must be very frustrating for you then if you’re finding it difficult to expand.


Simon: A little bit yes. Sometimes it's frustrating not being able to take the next step very easily.


Jackie: Simon, I wish you all the best.

Simon: I may need it.