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Mentors and Mentees - "According to the law you are just as entrepreneur as anyone else."

Mentors and Mentees
"According to the law you are just as entrepreneur as anyone else."

Two years after the 2008 economic crisis, Gabriella Sőrés gave up a well-paid, secure job for a multinational company to realize her dreams as entrepreneur. Many of her friends tried to dissuade her from the change, but her husband and parents supported her purposes. In 2013, he participated as a mentee in the SEED Foundation's MENTOR-NET program in order to develop her company by having already entrepreneurial self-confidence and gaining new professional skills.

How did you become an entrepreneur and what does your business do?

I worked as a logistician for a multinational company. By the way, my original profession is teacher of English language and history. I really liked teaching at that time, but I felt myself well at a company as well. However, when I had to decide on "what's next?" after Child Car Benefit, I had already known not to work at a multinational company by having two small children. I wanted a much freer, more flexible job.

That's when I learned from a friend of mine that the franchise royalties of an English-language school teaching small children, was free for sale in Debrecen. I knew this institution well, earlier my two sons also studied with them for a while. Later, I paid attention to their activity and knew this was a good business.

This language school started in Hungary in 2003-2004 and opened its doors in Debrecen in 2004. Even then I would have worked with pleasure for them, but my life differently evolved. At that time, I didn't know I would ever return as owner.

So, this opportunity came, we discussed it with my husband, and he also saw fantasy in it. My mother, who is an entrepreneur herself as well, was also very encouraging and offered to help in book-keeping. So, in 2010, I took over this well-established business.

We were after the 2008 economic crisis, everything was uncertain, many of my friends and acquaintances said how daring was to leave a good and safe job. However, I felt it was right for me. My family supported me, moreover I also liked children and to teach. It was very important for me to do what I really like.

Yes, but this was not just about teaching, and even it was not primarily about it, rather on how running a business: client acquisition, people management, revenue and cost planning, IT and so on.

I had a teacher diploma and I graduated at the Foreign Trade College, so I had not only pedagogical but also economic knowledge. I have gained a lot of economic experiences at a multinational company. The corporate culture was very good and I learned a lot of processes. I was a logistic purchaser, so dealing with external and internal clients was a part of my job ensuring me a lot of experiences. I didn't know even then, but my corporate past helped me a lot in running a business.

When you applied for the SEED Foundation's MENTOR-NET program in 2013, you have already been an entrepreneur for three years. Why did you decide to participate in the program?

I took every opportunity to learn and to expand my entrepreneurial knowledge. Issues like how to grow, how to manage our staff, how to retain them, and how to improve the quality of our services. I also wanted to meet other women entrepreneurs to see what kind of problems they were facing and how they were handling them.

Has the program fulfilled your hopes?

We had a really very good training. I would like to highlight Zsuzsa Bardóczy's trainer, consultant, to whom I owe a lot. During one of her trainings, somebody of us noted that she, namely our groupmate, was not so big and talented entrepreneur as another groupmate. To this, Zsuzsa said: "By law, you are just as entrepreneur as the other, you have the same responsibility for what you do." This sentence had a great effect on me. This gave me confidence. I think that day I really became entrepreneur.

I also really enjoyed being able to visit the mentoring companies involved in the program where they told us what and how they were doing. We were very grateful for these opportunities. I got a lot of knowledges in the frame of this program: finance, marketing, HR trainings, we learned how to give a lecture, to talk in front of people, to conduct a business meeting. I would say that everyone got as much from the program as they put in it. At the same time, it is perhaps the most important that it has strengthened my entrepreneurial abilities and my self-confidence as well.

How big is your business now?

The number of employees from the initial 3-4 increased to 12 for today, we have a total of 500 students. This is not a few, it's about as much as the total number of an elementary school students.

Recently, with nearly a decade of entrepreneurship behind me, I have come to the point of wanting to be a mentor myself as well. Now I feel that I already have the experience and knowledge that I would like to share with others.

Károly Bognár