Life gives us challenges that seem hard, scary and impossible to deal with. But when this challenge is a life changing experience and is related to your personal growth and development as well as knowing new cultures — without any hesitations you should grab this chance and take a risk!
“Usually we regret more of the things we haven‘t done than the things we have”, — says Ugne Papievyte, who came back from Lisbon where she had a wonderful time participating in the project “Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs”. Before attending this project, Ugne was a volunteer at European Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute which pushed her towards a new stage of her life. So as you now can understand, she has very interesting things to share with all of you, young entrepreneurs, who are still looking for the right path to begin your business journey
— So, Ugne, tell us how come you decided to participate in Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs?
— Before attending a project I was volunteering in European Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute. There I heard about this program and I was offered to give it a try. Without hesitation, I agreed. It seemed like a challenge I have always wanted to accept. Like a life-changing experience.
— What did you expect from this project at the very beginning? What were things you were most interested in?
— From the beginning, I felt that this is a great opportunity to see how things are in the other country, related to business management, international partnerships, idea generation, so I expected to get knowledge in these fields. I was really curious what this new experience will bring to me. I was also interested in Portugal itself, how people are living there, what kind of businesses they run, how they behave in personal and professional life.
— Honestly, have you always dreamed about becoming an entrepreneur?
— Actually no, because I always thought that this is very difficult to develop and maintain. Lack of skills and general understanding made me think like that. Now I have more knowledge and inspiration, so I could say — everything is possible!
— Tell us a bit about the search for your mentor? Was it hard to find him?
— Not really, because I received a help from Institute, I was offered to have a host in Portugal. Also, right after the application process and my profile appearance on a database, I received calls from Italy, Turkey offering me to come (seems that I have prepared myself for that really well), but I remained with the first choice.
— How your business idea has progressed since the time you started working in Lisbon?
— I was not 100% sure how and in which way it will progress, but I have collected real-time practical examples of how to develop consulting business from an idea into actual work. I think that could apply to my business very well in future. In my opinion, the biggest progress for me is people I have met. They all have something similar. Also, the way of thinking changed, I realized that nothing is perfect at the beginning, but you should continue anyway.
— Tell us more about your ordinary day in Lisbon.
— I was living not so far away from a city center, where my office was, so I decided to walk everyday back and forth. The weather was nice, so why not to keep myself fit this way? In the office I usually had some meetings, discussions, participated in organization’s activity, carried on agreed tasks, communicated with colleagues. In the late afternoon I walked back home and had time to do something interesting in the evening, like sightseeing, which I liked the most. My schedule was not as strict as it was used to, when I was a corporate employee from 8–5. At first it was strange to adapt, but then I thought — wait a minute, I’m boss for myself now!
— If you could choose, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
— It’s important to know, what you want to achieve in the near future. It applies not only for business but also for personal development. When you make up your mind, then it’s easier to put priorities and plan a few steps ahead. On the other hand, I learned that not necessarily everything should be achieved perfectly, it’s not the way business works, you just need to do things and don’t stop.
— In several words, how could you describe the culture in Lisbon? And the working culture, does it differ?
— People are very tolerant and easy going. They value things like good food, nice atmosphere, they smile a lot, and they are ready to help you whenever you need. They always ask how are you doing, is everything ok. People stay close to each other, communication is very important to them. Lisbon itself is a mixture of cultures, I have seen a lot of different people but they get along very well with each other. Working culture is different than in Lithuania. I think, here we usually have a very organized mindset towards tasks, we don’t like that something goes not so perfectly as we expected, so we tend to plan carefully. Portuguese people are impulsive, they spend time doing rather than thinking.
— How did you like living in Lisbon?
— I liked the atmosphere, how people behave. I felt relaxed most of the time because here people are not really stressed. During weekends, there was always something going on in the city. I really liked the architecture, nature, weather and food. Their bakeries are amazing. Um pastel de nata, por favor!
— Do you call this project a one in a lifetime opportunity? How do you think your business idea would have grown without this project?
— It really is one of one in a lifetime opportunities. Without this project, I think I would not have seen other country business from this close. It made me think about things that probably I would have never considered.
— What new business-related connections you found during your stay in Lisbon? Are you planning to collaborate in the future?
— We will keep in touch for sure. If I decide I want to collaborate together in certain business, I know where to bring offers. The most important thing is that the connection is made and trust is developed.
— What was the funniest or craziest thing that happened during your stay?
— One afternoon there was a street dance performance made by several guys in the central area, there were lots of people gathered around. I stopped to take a look, it seemed very cool. Suddenly a leader invited me and some French girl in the middle. He asked us our names and where we are from. Later, you guessed right, we needed to dance. In front of many people. Doing strange moves. Then he kept only me in the middle of the circle and did some trick with a hat. Well, I felt honored and I think my cheeks were burning a lot after.
—What could you advise other young entrepreneurs who are still hesitating to start their entrepreneurship journey?
— If you have a chance to try yourself, like this project, you should use it. Usually, we regret more of the things we haven’t done than the things we have. Maybe you might not develop your idea as much as you would like, maybe you don’t find partners to continue with, but personal development is guaranteed, which is one of the most important things for a business owner.
by Gintarė Jasiunskaitė, European Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute