Eran Shay- Managing Director of Benefit Business Solutions Ltd (www.benefitgibraltar.com ) and
President of the Gibraltar-Israel Chamber of Commerce (www.gibrael.org)
What made you make the move into running your own business?
I used to work for Deloitte for 15 years, 8 years in Israel heading the IPO Department and 7 years in Gibraltar heading the Financial Advisory Services department. I like to think outside the box and saw various opportunities in the marketplace and had ideas to do things in innovative ways; but the problem is that when you work for a big global organisation, you have to follow the Corporate guidelines and if it doesn’t tick their box, then you just can’t do it. So I decided it’s time to spread my wings and fly independently and do things my way. I set up Benefit Business Solutions consultancy firm in which we assist local businesses to grow in innovative ways and assist a wide spectrum of technology companies, from all over the world, in setting up in Gibraltar.
What were the biggest challenges in the early days and how did you overcome these?
Sourcing clients was the biggest challenge initially, particularly because a big chunk of our services is focused on clients who are based outside Europe, such as our Local Representative services. Our approach to overcoming this was to build a good network of contacts overseas and this we did practically by going out to the target markets themselves. We went on marketing trips to countries as far as Australia and New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, USA, and Israel, and we are continuing on doing so. Many of our clients are also in innovative sectors which are not so developed in Gibraltar, such as Green Energy, Fintech, Smart City Solutions, Homeland Security, Telecom, Biotechnology and Software development, so you really have to go out beyond your comfort zone, be aware of trends in these markets, attend relevant conferences and show your face out there in order to bring work.
Did you ever feel like giving up and how did you overcome that?
I am a very determined person and giving up is simply not part of the equation, especially if it is something I believe in doing. Yes, the challenges are big and nothing comes easily. I put a lot of effort and hard work into what I do and always reminds myself that the world is a very big place and there will always be people out there who need our services; it’s
just a matter of learning how best to approach them.
Was it difficult at times to balance family commitments and business commitments, and what are your tips for finding that balance?
Actually when you run your own business it is actually easier to manage family commitments as you are in charge of your own time. My wife Ayelet actually founded the company with me and heads our Business Development operations so we both have flexible work times, which actually means we work all the time but can also stop whenever we want. Travelling abroad on business trips can sometimes be challenging if we both have to travel, due to the kids, but we have adjusted either by taking it in turns or taking the kids on our travels which adds to their life experiences and ensures we spend quality family time together.
What were the biggest mistakes you think you made?
That I didn’t set up my business earlier on…Having your own business opens up your opportunities in life so much that I wish I’d done it earlier, even though I started before the age of 40.
What would you do differently if you had the chance?
Should have developed some more passive income sources from a younger age, preferably in the real estate sector.
What are the achievements you are most proud of?
My biggest achievement is that I always had the courage and vision to make big life-changing decisions: from marrying my superwoman wife at a relatively young age, to relocating my family to Gibraltar, to leaving a well paid job in a great company to start my own business and to bring my wife onboard this business with me, despite all the risks that this may entail. I’m also proud of establishing the Gibraltar-Israel Chamber of Commerce (Gibrael), which has been instrumental in facilitating many new businesses in setting up in Gibraltar, particularly in the online gaming, Finance, retail and renewable energy sectors. Gibrael Chamber has also led 4 business delegations to Israel and has organised the historic, first ever Gibraltar Day in Tel Aviv last October, in cooperation with the Finance Centre and Minister Isola.
What do you think are the most important characteristics of successful business leaders?
Not being afraid to take risks and not to be scared of failure. All successful business people have failed at least once in their lives. It’s their ability to move on and start again, and determination to succeed that makes it happen at the end.
What is your favourite thing about being in business?
I love the freedom that I have to determine my own destiny. I can deal with the things I like and don’t have to do things I don’t like. Having your own business opens up so many opportunities for you and even the skies are no the limit…It’s all in your own hands to determine what your next day will look like. I enjoy being a trusted advisor to other businesses people, assisting them throughout the life cycle of their business, from preparing their business plan, through valuation and due diligence during times of mergers & acquisitions, and right through making an exit either by IPO on the capital markets or helping them sell-off their business.
What is your business dream and has the end game changed for you over the years?
I’m very good in identifying business opportunities and have many innovative business ideas. I want to become a wealthy investor that invests in many projects. This way the adventure keeps on growing…
Why did you join the GFSB and what are its greatest strengths?
I joined the GFSB as I believe much more innovation needs to be brought to Gibraltar and it is only by being part of influential organisations that you can bring about change. The Federation, reflects the characteristics of its members – the small businesses; it is agile, results-driven, and has strong forward-looking vision and initiative. The people on the Board are all highly driven individuals who wish to keep the Gibraltar business community resilient and robust whatever the challenges that domestic or international forces may throw at it.