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INTRO Business in Russia

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MichaelLekker

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 2, 2019
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Hello! I am new to this forum. My name is Michael and I am a Dutch man who lives in Russia. I moved here at the end of 2016 to start a business with traditional Dutch syrup waffles. Back then I didn't know a lot about business and just thought I had a great idea which had to become a success. Obviously it wasn't that easy.
At first I wanted to open my shop in the biggest and most popular mall of the city, because I believed that I would have an advantage with bringing euros to Russia. In the Netherlands the average salary is a lot higher than what the average person in Russia earns, so I expected that the rent wouldn't be that high. I was wrong...
After doing some research and contacting other malls I found another interesting place in a smaller local mall. Rent was low and the location they offered me was perfect. Right next to the entrance and a some kind of city hall.
The first weeks I found out that my waffles were not as popular as expected, but the coffee I offered for a very cheap price was. Unfortunately one of my neighbors was an expensive coffee shop and the owner complained to the direction of the mall about my low prices. They decided that I could no longer sell coffee and my sales were almost zero. I was working 7 days a week from morning to evening and did not know what to do. I felt like my shop was slowly dying before it got a chance to grow. I decided to negotiate with the directors of the mall and they eventually agreed to me selling coffee again. From that point my business started to grow slowly. I was experimenting with different kind of products and drinks and found that European sweets were very popular. I became a candy store for children, with cheap coffee for their parents. I also decided to make a special action combo by selling the coffee with a waffle for a very low price and this way my waffles became popular too.
After about 7 months of working alone I finally decided to hire a part time employee. This way I had more time to focus on advertising and finding better suppliers. We changed our coffee supplier, bought extra equipment to speed up the production and got more advertising. Then I was called by the director of the mall. They basically told me that my competitor wanted to close because of my coffee prices and I would have to pay twice the rent I was paying now to cover the loss of his shop. That, or I would have to stop selling coffee. Very convenient that I was reading a book about crucial conversations that month and thanks to that I negotiated for the best result; competitor would leave and I would not pay extra rent. I was also promised that the mall would never place two coffee shops this close to each other anymore, as it only caused problems for them.
Obviously my sales were growing rapidly after that. But two months later I got a new neighbor. Guess what? Another coffee shop. Because of my low prices and perfect price/quality ratio I knew that they wouldn't survive very long, but It definitely was slowing my growth down. After 2 or three months they sold their shop and my third competitor and war were there. They lasted 4 months and then he put his shop for sale.
Being ready for another war, but not willing to grow slowly I decided to buy his shop for a low price. Now I was my own competitor. I planned to keep the two shops for a while and then close the first shop. It was perfect though, because my first shop was too small for the amount of customers and this way the customers wouldn't have to wait in lines. After two months my second shop did what all my competitors couldn't do; sell much more. As planned I closed the first shop and got all customers to one shop.
At this moment we are very busy everyday. I would say it is 85 percent passive as I have two employees working everyday. For a small coffee shop of this concept we are not doing bad and I am thinking about the next steps. Either to open more coffee shops slowly and eventually franchise it, or to use the time I have now to start other projects which might need less time to grow.

Earning enough money with the coffee shop while not physically working there anymore I cannot complain, but it is Russia and a nice salary here is not worth much in Europe. I have learned so much, but still have a very long way to go to call myself wealthy. Always trying to learn and improve myself I came to this forum to connect with other fast lane seekers. Hopefully we can help each other to achieve what we are looking for.
 

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Cruze

Contributor
Sep 6, 2016
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Wow, awesome and very interesting story. Congrats for your way. For sure it's very hard keep to russia from netherland, or? Do you speak the language before?
 
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MichaelLekker

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 2, 2019
11
31
22
Wow, awesome and very interesting story. Congrats for your way. For sure it's very hard keep to russia from netherland, or? Do you speak the language before?
Yes, it is pretty hard to live here. The culture and mentality is so different from Europe. Probably I will never get used to that, but business here is very exciting. I spoke a little Russian before, but it improved a lot over the years
 

AgainstAllOdds

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Great story. One of the most interesting intro's I've seen on this forum.

Why did you choose to go to Russia? And what was your mindset when you made the leap?
 
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MichaelLekker

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 2, 2019
11
31
22
Great story. One of the most interesting intro's I've seen on this forum.

Why did you choose to go to Russia? And what was your mindset when you made the leap?
My wife is Russian so that's why we decided to move there. I was very positive when starting, but looking back now I also was very naive. I was a rookie in business and could have prepared better.
 

AgainstAllOdds

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Dec 26, 2014
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I was a rookie in business and could have prepared better.
Naw.

I'm sure you learned in one year of doing a lot more than any book or college could've taught you. Now you're years ahead of where you were before. Great job on taking action.
 
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MichaelLekker

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Apr 2, 2019
11
31
22
Naw.

I'm sure you learned in one year of doing a lot more than any book or college could've taught you. Now you're years ahead of where you were before. Great job on taking action.
That is true. It is great experience. I learned much more than I ever did at school haha
 

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