Graham Burns

#KSY80 - 33. English Language Management

What is your name and what is the name of your company?

I'm Graham Burns and my company is called English Language Management.

Describe yourself as an entrepreneur.

I'm a very proactive kind of guy. I don't like sitting around waiting for things to happen.

I suppose, I'm kind of a product of my background. I believe there are two types of people in this world. There are doers and there are followers, and I'm a doer.

When did you get in touch with entrepreneurship for the first time?

I moved to Finland in 2005 and I started working as a freelance teacher. I was working for large language service providers, but I wanted to move forward from that. In 2009 wintertime I found myself unemployed and I was thinking what should I do next. It was clear to me, that I didn't want work for these large language service providers anymore.

Then I just decided, that I'll start my own company, which is focused on teaching and training English language. I had no knowledge of entrepreneurship, no entrepreneurial education, no entrepreneurial background, but I just thought, let's try it out and see what happens.

The story of English Language Management.

English Language Management was set up in 2009. The journey from there to this day includes lots of different times, some of which are quite difficult also.

On one hand, the journey has been very enjoyable. I love the feeling of being an entrepreneur. I like being my own boss. Nobody tells me what to do, apart from my accountant of course.

It's also difficult. At the end of every business cycle, you never know how your calendar is going to look like for the next cycle. You never know, if you are going to make enough money to pay the bills. You never know, where your new clients are coming from. For me those things are the most difficult parts of being an entrepreneur. Those are stressful times for me, but I manage. And my wife usually is the rational one, who always tells me that something will come along and something usually does.

If we look at this nine years period as a whole, there have been good years and there have been lean years. During these years the whole concept of English Language Management has also evolved. I would say, that the evolution of my company can be seen best from my clients. Today majority of my clients are on the board level of the companies. Of course I do groups also, as I'm doing with Keski-Suomen Yrittäjät nowadays. I could also say, nowadays my courses are a little bit more advanced, because my students are a little bit more advanced. Of course some of my students are also yet on the beginner level, but majority of the courses are advanced level courses nowadays.

What have you learned from being an entrepreneur?

Two things. The first one is resilience. If you get knocked down, it doesn't matter, just get back up and keep on going. And it doesn't matter if you start again a little bit more slowly, because quite soon you'll be going at full speed again.

The second one, and for me the major one, is a dramatic increase in my own self-confidence. Doing entrepreneurial work can be quite scary at first. You really can't know, if you're going to succeed or not. The more you do, the more entrepreneurial actions you undertake, the greater your self-confidence becomes. Suddenly you find yourself knocking on every door and telling them, that this is me and this is what I can do. If you need me, call me.

Your greetings to other entrepreneurs in Central Finland.

Be bold, believe in yourself and believe in what you know you can do.

To learn more about the company:

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