While someone is only complaining about the situation in Ukraine, others are active and succeeding. How not to lose taste to business and to be out of competition, said Nikolay Gannul, vice president of the National Retail Trade Organization (NORT).
Nikolai Valentinovich, you are a very active person. Tell us what started your active business activities?
Today, Kyiv is a native city for me. But I was born in another sight of Ukraine – in Kirovograd. Like all young people, made my way to Kyiv for perspectives and opportunities. And experience has shown, I’ ve ventured successfully (smiling). In general, I have such an life attitude that it’s not easy to sit and do nothing. I will not go into philosophy, but life is like you always need to be in shape and in the center of events if you want to be a successful businessman.
As the founder of the Croissant & Coffee coffee shop network, the network of tourist information centers Tourinfo and other projects, tell us where to look for new ideas for entrepreneurs.
In fact, there is a lot to remember, and an hour limit is not enough. Every project is like a child for me.I started the business in 1997, and it turned out that every year I opened a new direction, experimenting a lot. There were products kiosks, cafes, tickets kiosks, cooperated with Kyivpastrance, and this list can be continued. Probably, the reason of success was that in those days, the small business had the opportunity for an active development, and we quickly took decisions from the stage of idea to its implementation.
There are projects, like, for the soul. This is the Tourinfo – a creation whsch is more than five years old. The idea was born on the eve of Euro-2012, when the capital was waiting for many guests from different parts of the world. It would have been desirable that Kiev would not end for them only by walking through Khreshchatyk. This is an important project for the city, although, it does not generate income for me, as its founder. But for me it is a realization of the dream that Kyiv should have the best level, as capitals of Europe already have.
Almost all the people of Kiev and outside the capital aware about the project of free tours in Kyiv. How was this idea born and whether it will have a continuation?
Yes. Recently, with the support of Tourinfo, a series of free excursions for Kyiv residents and guests were organized. Colossal emotions, many reviews and a new look at our favorite Kyiv. The idea was quite unexpected. It was in April 2017. On that day, an important four-party agreement on cooperation between the Department of Country Studies and Tourism of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, the Nort NGO, the All-Ukrainian Association of Guides (VAG) and LLC“Universum-2000” was signed at the office of the National Union of Retail Trade (NORT) which owns a network of tourist information centers in Kyiv. Actually, the purpose of such cooperation is the realization of socially important projects of tourism development in the capital of Ukraine, the revival of traditions and historical memory of the Ukrainian people. And at the same time of signing it the idea of free sightseeing was born. We were surprised when more than 200 applications for participation in the project were received each day. We managed to combine the pleasures with the useful ones: guests and residents of Kyiv gained knowledge about the history of their capital, and students- guides got tourists experience in conducting excursions and award for good work.
Regarding the project Croissant & Coffee, Kyiv has pretty much competition among coffee kiosks, but it does not prevent Croissant & Coffee to be successful and popular. What’s the secret?
I recalled the proverb: “Every frog praises its swamp” (laughs). But I never exaggerate with PR. Every businessman has to work on the result and always require more in his work. The secret of my coffee shop is a successful and reliable team with which I am extremely lucky. I am the person always open and positive, that is why I want to see the same people along with me. As for competition, you are right. My friend once said that you can have a look anywhere in the morning in Kyiv and you will see all the people are drinking coffee. Competition is great, but the main thing in business is, first of all, the human factor. From the very beginning I built a business for people, and then everything else. Therefore Croissant & Coffee smells like not fresh coffee only, but also as a great mood and hospitality of our team.
You are in business since 1997, how consumer tastes has changed in comparison to the past and present years?
It is perhaps incorrect to speak of the taste of the customer. Because people are different. Sometimes it is difficult to predict which products will have a demand and which are not. I can only afmit that in the 90s years people were not so demandinf and captious. And this is a big plus that customers now choose quality and this makes the manufacturer and the seller think and improve all the processes. We also take into account the tendency that now more and more people, including among young people, refuse of alcohol and meat products, choose organic products.
How difficult is today to establish your business for the beginners?
Small business is now experiencing not the slightest time, and you know it. But according to my opinion it is accessible to every beginner, including those who moved to the capital, most of them find themselves in a small business. The main thing is not to stop on the path to your dream and understand that a great victory is impossible without a series of small defeats that need to be understood and go on..
Does small business suffer from medium and large now, what do you think?
This is a debatable question. You should see that small, medium or large businesses interact with each other. They do not interfere each other, but help. In practice, large suppliers of goods or financial services, for example, have many programs supporting SMB which sell their products. This is training, and the provision of the use of technical facilities on concessional terms, etc..
What is in priority for you as a businessman?
It’s obvious – satisfied customers and employees. The main thing in business is to correctly set priorities. Many mistakes are made when focusing on financial incomes, while building a business. Yes, that’s important. But business is a customer-seller relationship. When the customer did not like something in the service, there is a reason for this and it needs to be clarified. By the way, we are working with complaints rather quickly.
We know that you are care about your employees. Tell us what trainings you are making for them and how do you stimulate your team?
I do not want to be verbose in this matter. For making a result in business, you have to invest a lot in the team, very much. We try to make workflow at least interesting and useful. Also, we are sympathetic to employees who came from other regions of Ukraine, by providing them hostel. There is an understanding that the fate of specific people, each of them and their families are depend of your decisions, and you have no right for mistake.
Did you hear the story about the craftsman on a scooter? Is this something symbolic?
This is the story of 2001 year. Briefly, at that time many kiosks have been already open. And they needed to be constantly technically supported so that they worked efficiently. To organize the work of the craftsman in one place is not a problem, but how to make him manage to serve more and more objects is another question. That’s how idea with a motor scooter was born, and became a symbol of the fact that in our company everything is necessary to do quickly (smiles).
What is your piece of an advice for businessmans?
You need to do your job in such a a way to make your product socially demanded in society. This is not a tip, this is my experience.