Successful Business talked to Anna Anisimova, the founder of the TALEAN group of companies about the role of women in business, starting a business in Cyprus, and the qualities business women need to succeed.
Anna, how have you ended up in Cyprus?
I moved to the Island of Love, in fact, for love. Fifteen years ago, I fell in love with a wonderful man, got married, and relocated to Cyprus. Here I started my life anew: not knowing the language, with nor friends neither relatives. It was pretty tough.
What was the first thing you did?
First I had to look around. I found myself surrounded by completely different traditions and mentality. People in Cyprus live differently, the pace of life is different. Everything was unfamiliar, but I enjoyed the sea and the sun. Therefore, I decided to stay positive and gradually blend into the local island life.
What has brought you into the professional services industry?
Looking back, I understand that my whole career was like those pieces of a puzzle that turned out a success in the end. My education in Russia was in accounting. 15 years ago, this degree was pretty useless in Cyprus. In addition, my level of English was average, learnt at high school mostly.
Later I found a job as a secretary and began to learn. Thanks to that job, I immediately started to comprehend the structure of the organisation, to see the underpinning workflows. I also really liked communicating with people.
How did you manage to learn languages along the way?
Initially, I was practicing English with my husband, a graduate of a British university. Then he convinced me to learn Greek; trying to help me, he only spoke Greek to me at home. So, gradually, I became fluent in Greek.
What advice can you give to those who study languages and are in a similar situation as you were back then?
They need to communicate as much as possible and not be afraid to make mistakes.
Talking about professional growth, does one need any formal education or would experience be enough?
In my case, experience was king. My area is corporate administration in the service industry. This cannot be taught. While many believe that a law degree is a must for such a job, this is not the case. I have met many lawyers who work in this area but do not fully understand it. From my experience, I have come to realise one thing important in the service sector: you must hear what your clients tell you.
This is true for any business. Let me give you an example. I come to a prominent hairdresser with many diplomas and awards and ask them to cut my hair by 2 cm. They agree, and in the end cut off twice as much. If I question their actions, the answer would be: “Come on! I know better. This is how I see you." They did not hear me, so I will not be going there again. It is the same with my work.
If a client wants to achieve a certain result and you tell them it is impossible, they will turn to someone who can help. You need to hear your clients and offer them solutions to their problems. Moreover, you need to come up with several options and then explain how this can be implemented and what the advantages are. I guarantee that 99% will go with your suggestions.
You say it is important to explain your proposals to the client.
Absolutely. You need to pay attention to this. It may be very difficult sometimes and seem like a waste of time, but it pays off. Recently, a client introduced me to their partners. “Let me present Anna. She advocates the principle of getting a result, not endlessly dragging out the process," they wrote. Reading this, I realised that I had been heard, I had been understood, I had been appreciated. It is very important.
Do you have any specialisation, or is your profile a broad one?
The main specialisation of the TALEAN group of companies is company registration and administration. This is divided into various directions in all areas and in the majority of countries. We deal with banking, immigration services, intellectual property, substance, HR. In other words, anything a client may need to achieve their goals.
In addition, there are many personal assignments from both business owners and their families. It is important to not try handling everything alone, and to delegate the tasks that are either beyond your capabilities or physically impossible to perform from Cyprus. The client will see that you hear them and propose the optimal way to achieve their goals. Thanks to this delegation of work, we have been able to build an effective structure, networked across the world.
They say, in Cyprus it is much more difficult for women in business than for men. What is your take on this?
I think that is not true. To me, this idea comes from the Cypriot culture of the past, when men worked and women were mostly housewives. If a woman is self-confident and knows what she is doing, then I see no obstacles. It so happened that 100% of my clients are men. At the same time, they trust me, reach out to me, consult with me. At present, the division between women and men in business is nearly non-existent.
Although there still are examples in Cyprus, they become fewer. In my experience, I had virtually none.
Today long-term planning is challenging. Still, what are your work goals for the next couple of years?
I had been an employee at various offices for a very long time. My most important goal has now been achieved: I have managed to overcome my fears and, despite having a family and three children, start my own business from scratch. Now I want to grow it, to provide a wider range of services. My wish is to leave the business to my children. So I am determined to build this business up and raise worthy successors. As I lay the foundation, some things become clear. It is important to set the rules from the very beginning, take care of your reputation, and make informed decisions. Opening a business and properly running it relying on your network is just the beginning.
I work for the future, I think for years to come. I am in the business for a long haul, and I will help my children get education and experience for them to continue the family business.
Interviewed by Natalia Kardash
TALEAN SERVICES LTD
Company registration and administration services
Тел.: +357 25 007 273