This interview is long due. Like 3 years orso overdue. Finally I got her to sit down and we had a lovely chat about life and business. I met Nevita in 2015 when I participated at a business event to promote my business. Scary as hell, but happy to meet an uplifting person in the organisation. So, lets get some insights on how she does her business.
What is the story behind the name The Business Connection?
The Business Connection started off by the name “JustNeva”. In the early ages I noted that what for me was a simple solution, was for others a huge breakthrough or had a somehow a unique twist. I always stood out because of this. But for me that’s just me! Hence: JustNeva. What I considered very normal, was exactly the added value that I had for others. So that’s what I wanted to offer this as a consultant and express this in my branding. I was known in my network for my unusual way to help others address their problems with easy, in the reach and cost effective solutions. I help them strive based on solutions that would work for them in line with their situation and environment. After the first two years in Business, I realized that I was approached most of the time for my extensive connections.
Whether it was a connection to help them carry out an idea, or to fill in a lack of knowledge; I their “Go to Girl” to set them up with the right expert. The name “JustNeva” was confusing for a Business Consultancy, so it needed to go!So I renamed the company to “The Business Connection”, matching the brand to the unique selling proposition of the services I am providing to my clients.
What is The Business Connection all about?
The Business Connection is a consultancy that advises on both strategic and operational level. So if someone has a concept in mind, we guide them through all the steps necessary to bring this to life in a successful manner; making the concept (or business) plan till working out the details for the implementation. What makes us different from the other business consultants are that we can provide the meaningful connections besides a general idea on paper. I can tell you exactly whom or what you need for your idea to come to fruition. And if I don’t know someone in my network, I will.
How many employees are within your company?
Currently we are a team of two on contract. Last year the team consisted of about 6 people, and about half of this group were interns. I believe in adding to the growth and development of others; Younger generations always bring a new perspective that add value to the company as well. The issue however is that with such a large team is that a lot of time does go into guiding the team and correcting their work, which again takes away from the time that add up to my own production.After comparing the energy that was being put into the team as oppose to the financial results we as the team was bringing forth, I came to the conclusion that I get more done with a smaller team and earn more with less risks by delegating certain tasks to external professionals.
Why did you start a business of your own?
Because of the current job market I was forced to start my own business in order to provide for myself. About 9 years ago I came back to the island, and it took me a very long time to find a job, because of my extended working experience in the Netherlands. Due to my work at a secondment company, I could be put to work in many different areas within the financial sector; lots of local employers do not know how to deal with these types of employees. Most are looking for an employee that can fill in a vacancy for at least 5 years to come, while such employee could be of great added value to fill in temporary highly skilled vacancies due to set up new projects, maternity leaves, long term sickness. This is a option they would consider for a freelancer but not an employee.
After working for about 2 years as a Compliance Consultant for a local company, I learned what working as a consultant entails on a working on a different level. As my former employer it was a small company, I also was in charge of making proposals and be on the look out of business opportunities. When my contract was about to run its course and I had start once again applying to find a job. But after a couple of months in the process, with all the difficulties that that entails, seeing the development of the job market, I decided that to offer my expertise on the market as freelancer instead of an employee. To earn a living I didn’t have to be employed. Selling my expertise as a freelancer, would fit the markets needs much better than as an employee. And here I am 6 years later…earning my living and creating jobs for others.
What are the high and low points of starting a business?
The low points….I think most entrepreneurs would agree with me that it would be the finances. When you start working on your own is when you learn what makes money and what pays the bills. I tend to accept projects that I liked at first, or spend a huge amount of time working at these tasks, rather than choosing those that brings in the big money. After a while I realized the importance of having billable hours; Hours that brings in the money or in other words the hours you can be paid for. I used to waste a lot of hours that could have been billable until I started using a track sheet for work. That changed how I filled in my agenda. Meetings were swapped for more production hours; Hours I could send someone a invoice for.
I also managed my finances very badly at first. Sometimes in my excitement to start on new projects I would start without having for example received the down payment first. At other times I forgot to send out the invoices or forgot to follow up on the due invoices, this lead to huge pressure on my cashflow. And if the clients don’t pay on short term I would be in trouble with my obligations. As a starting and small business owner that was a hard blow.
The high points for me are when I get the recognition for my work.And when you see that your clients have followed the advice you gave them and got the results they wished for. That has always brought me a lot of satisfaction. Having someone trust your advice, follow through, and then getting to cheer with them and say up to the next success. Nothing beats that.
Other high points are when I rented my own office space and I actually go to work at “MY Office”. And best of all is when clients are approaching me due to referrals or because they recognize my name or The Business Connection as the “go to consultant” as it comes to bringing ideas to life. The thing that keeps amazing me is when my business card is more famous than I am.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I think the fact that I figured out how an online business functions…I see that as a huge deal. On the island e-commerce is still in its infancy, and yet The Business Connection has managed to launch 3 e-commerce services to help their clients reach bigger business success. And this is not only a success for me as The Business Connection; it is a success I share with others, because we share resources and yet get a step further in business growth.
Where does your inspiration come from when it comes to work?
My inspiration comes from the smallest things. Like the fact that I can go and sit somewhere and have a drink and analyze how that other business works; what its strengths and weakness are, that really inspires me. I reflect that on my own business or of my clients and come up with what we need to work on to be able to grow more or build a more sustainable business. A simple example is sitting at an establishment; I realize that it is fact that the more we are waited on, the more we will spend. The less attention the waitress pays to you, the less you spend.
Also by sharing experiences with to other business owners, I have learned a lot. I listen to find practicalities I could use for my own business to bloom. The most solutions can be implemented in all types of companies just by adjusting it a little bit. Most of the time simply sitting and analyzing what goes on around me and noticing what the results are inspires me. A simple example: yesterday I went to see the movie “E Yamada” about the group “Serenada” with my mom. I turned to her and I told her that they needed me as their manager back then so they would have been financially more successful. Not for their marketing, but purely for their business model. If you compared them to other local bands that also performed music indigenous to the island, they had a very hard time financially to simply keep the concept alive. This band had a lot of success because of the quality of work they produced, but they didn’t reach their potential because their business model wasn’t right.
I’m very solution minded; most of my business ideas come from random conversation. I automatically start to think in solutions, which are new products of services.
Coaching creatives who want to sell their goods online I developed the coaching platform ‘Thached Heritage‘. A platform where they can get mentoring on how to sell their goods online on a successful matter and also the additional service required so they can sell their goods online at the minimum cost.
Planning, promoting events for my clients I noted the need to have a corporate online calendar where professionals and entrepreneurs could look for upcoming events and buy tickets online. So we launched ‘Events and Ticket‘.
By referring my clients to several printing platforms for printing of their designs on business cards, apparel and other products we created ‘The Stand’Art Stud!o‘, the first online print shop in Curacao.
I love fresh cookies. I can’t bake but one of my best friends can so we started selling frozen cookie dough and bread at ‘Unicorns Confections‘ for other people like me who can’t bake but want to eat fresh baked products at home too.
In regards to inventing new products of services, you can do the same. Let’s take with a new mom; ask her about her pregnancy, what products or services she missed, or wish existed: you can get so many ideas!
What advice would you give to those who would like to be part of the Your Own Boss Club?
My first piece of advice would be to look around you, and look at what the actual needs are of your environment. Don’t just look at what everyone around you is doing, but be at the lookout for the actual needs of the market, and where you can come in. What service can you provide? What solution can you offer? What gap can you fill with your talents or expertise?
The second piece of advice is to be realistic and look at whether that idea would generate money for you. Along with that, we also have to be realistic and look at what effort and amount of money would be invested in order to bring a business idea a reality. Make it a fun but successful journey.
Thank you Nevita for this very wisely interview. Great points to look at when deciding to start a business of your own. I wish you more success on your creative business venture.
Want to know more about Nevita, please click below:
The Business Hub: YOUTUBE
Unicorns Confetti: WEBSITE
The Stand’Art Stud!o: WEBSITE