BEING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS OWNER DESPITE POOR NORWEGIAN SKILLS

Alejandro (Alex) Perez (38), is a good example of someone beating the odds. His story is truly inspirational. He has a successful business, despite starting from scratch with an almost non-existing budget, poor Norwegian skills and no advertising.

A good idea from a friend
Alex came to Norway 12 years ago and after 5 years of back and forth, he finally settled in with his wife and adoptive daughter in a small sized apartment in Oslo.

– I am a PC technician, working with computers and technology since I was a child. When I first moved here, it was difficult for me to find a job for many reasons, but mainly because I did not speak Norwegian. One day I repaired a friend’s computer and he realized that I know what I’m doing. He gave me the idea to repair computers in order to earn some money until I found a job. That is how the company started, with a good idea from a friend. We started to put up simple paper adds with contact information in downtown Oslo and on Karl Johan. People got interested. I got my first customer within a week, and from there on, it was one customer a week, after one month it was two a week, and after one year, I was already paying my rent with the money I earned from repairing computers.

Building a business through word-of-mouth

After 7 years of hard work, Alex is finally getting a good grip on the development of his business. He is very realistic and advises other small entrepreneurs to be patient. His business is slowly growing. Hard work and improvement strategies that are both innovative and locally achievable are the key to his success, as well as a customer-first attitude and a word-of-mouth advertising strategy.

– So far, all the improvements to my services have gone well and my customer list is stable. I am very dedicated to the customers and I make sure not only to do a good job, I do a perfect job. For example, if a customer tells me they have a virus, I do more than just remove the virus. I also install an anti-virus program, I make sure the machine runs well, and if I need to repair something, I do it. I provide a little extra. Recommendations are very important when establishing a business. Actually, I built my customer list through recommendations only.

 

The right attitudes and partners do the trick

In order to meet the demands of his customers, Alex resorts to innovative techniques when it comes to outsourcing. His brother lives in Mexico and is also a computer technician. Alex engages his brother with on-line work when there is a pressing demand from customers.

Alex also cooperates with an IT business in England, UK.- Apple computers pose a problem since the whole system is just one piece. Sometimes, it is just a single chip that needs to be changed, but you need a big machine to do that, which I do not have. I made a contract with an IT company in England which cuts the costs for both the customer and me. Everyone benefits in the process and I can keep the cost of my services lower than my competitors.

Photo: Private

Focused on the future

For Alex, repairing computers is more than just a job, it is a lifelong passion. He explains the importance of inner motivation and liking what you do, as well as the importance of being adaptive and responsive to new demands and new ways of doing business. He sees himself as a future oriented person, in tune with the social and technological changes.  – I believe that your company is where you are. I am offering services, not physical space.

He also adds that it is crucial to be updated, in tune with the newest technological advances. – I am always up to date, I continuously read magazines, articles, and I need to do it all the time. Nothing will function as it does today In 5 or 10 years’ time… It is a day-by-day learning process. It is also important to have contacts and interact with people in the same business. Even if they are your competitors, you should have contact with them; ask them if they need help. There are big companies that often need help, and they can also provide you with work.

 

Advice for business success

Alex is clear in his advice for business success in Norway. Learn Norwegian if you do not speak the language. Do not expect that things will happen fast and without hard work. Analyze your idea, it is not enough that it sounds fabulous; it must also have a practical purpose and an existing market.

 

Have you always dreamt of running your own business? If you would like to learn more about how to get into the market and improving your skills, either as an employee or as an entrepreneur, send us an e-mail at: ung@merk3.no. We might be able to help you move forward, develop your talents or realize your dream.

Text by MERK Norge AS

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