In my world

08 May, 2009
Page 20 

Umer Ashraf is a young entrepreneur who owns the Glasgow-based iCafe chain of shops. He recently opened smoothie and juice bar Paradise Bay in Oban, on Scotland's west coast

As we get into the second quarter of 2009, things are looking pretty much the same as they did in the first quarter for many businesses. Not only is our industry seeing further economic difficulties, but I have (through one of my voluntary roles) come across a lot of people having relationship and family problems. This is backed up statistically as several reports indicate there are more break-ups, divorces and separations during a recession than at any other time. Unfortunately, this not only affects people's personal life, but also their ability to perform at work and therefore can have a huge impact on a business.

As employers, we must have measures and processes in place to deal with such unforeseen or unfortunate circumstances and should be there for our team. It is very hard to do sometimes but in my experience, every little thing helps and just like in any other relationship, there has to be a bit of give and take. If we're there for them, they will be there for us, whether it's covering shifts, overtime or special requests.

In my last column I was talking about my new venture called Paradise Bay which was launching on 10 April. Well, everything is in place - the equipment, the menu, the works. But our store manager has resigned - before even starting.

This was due to personal reasons which I won't go into but it is very much related to what I have mentioned in today's column so far. Again, I should be sitting here in my office looking at the first two weeks' sales figures but instead I have just come off the phone to Jobcentre Plus and other companies we use to advertise jobs, who are re-advertising the position for me.

The busy season in Oban has now started and Paradise Bay is already in "negative" as we have lost out on two weeks' trading. As a business, this is something you have to deal with and if we don't get someone in place by end of this week I will travel to Oban and start working there myself.

In all honestly, with multiple businesses this won't be easy, but this is what is required of me and I will of course deliver what the business demands.

On a more positive note, I have managed to secure a site for our third iCafe which will be based in the south of Glasgow. It has taken just over 13 months to get the site we had our eyes on, and the team here in iCafe is very excited about this news.

In my next column, I shall tell my readers how my Paradise Bay experience was - dare I say a hellish one - and of course, about the new iCafe. I'll finish by sharing this quote from Abraham Lincoln:

"The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time."





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