HOW I DID IT – Raise, Fall and Return
By Fatima Gorezi
Arjodita has taken on many leadership roles, including CEO and founder of Unit Center Group. A holding company providing high-quality, cost-effective services in real estate, financial and commercial areas. Moreover, it also provides online services as well as telemarketing, customer support services, technical support, accounts management, trainings for HR, marketing, restaurants, etc. For the last 3 years she has been very active with a BPO organisation like ABSA(Albanian Business Services Association), trying to facilitate foreign investment in Albania and promote the BPO as a sector that boosts employment in various cities of the country and offers career opportunities for young people. She shares with us her story, and tells more about women’s situation in Albania, how they are working to change the things for better and becoming role models for all the others.
How did your upbringing define who you are today?
I was isolated and withdrawn as a child, and much of the time it felt like I was observing people from a great distance. I could see but not touch; hear but not speak. It took me a long time to get up the nerve to come in from the cold 15 years ago when my best friend died. It was at that time when I started to think that as long as I am alive, I can improve my life and fight for my desires. All of a sudden, I wanted to challenge the mentality, that kills little girls because they are not allowed to live their dreams. I gradually opened up, slowly but surely, knowing and being known by others and becoming increasingly connected with them.
How did you find your path and what influenced you to start your entrepreneurial journey?
Entrepreneurs are the ones who change the world. They see the world as they want it to be, not how it is. Mark Twain explained the lure of entrepreneurship best when he wrote, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Building a successful business takes a lot of risk, and I love risks! I live for excitement and adventure. Brainstorming new ideas and gambling my chance of succeeding in my target market gives me goosebumps. I look to manage projects with high stakes because I have enough confidence to execute them: whether these projects become million dollar success stories or complete failures that I will regret. It’s the act of betting on an idea and watching it develop that makes me smile; this is why I started this journey.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
I am surrounded by very talented people, and I strongly believe that by supporting them and working together we will leave a legacy behind. We have a vision for the future, and we’re out to achieve it by challenging, taking possibilities, and turning them into inspiring visions for others. You have to have the confidence that you can actually do it, and the stupidity to think you’re right. There’s no shortage of great ideas and no shortage of people willing to give it a go . . . for a while. When the going gets tough, that’s when you need your motivation. You’ve got to keep feeding and building it. Read books about other successful people, see what they did, and think about how you can incorporate their ways of thinking into yours. There are a lot of clever ideas out there: why not put them to work for you?
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur?
The courage of taking risks usually comes from having faith in something. And, faith usually arises when one has passion towards something. Success of a company is directly proportional to hard work and perseverance of the owner. It is, however, passion of the owner that pushes them to work hard. The energy of passion can take your business all over the world. In addition, it helps in keeping us getting through days when money isn’t coming and work isn’t happening. It is not about the money, but you always want to prove yourself, you’re never quite satisfied – and that might be displayed in being very competitive. You just want to do your own thing and are prepared to take huge risks to do it.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
As I previously said, I feel fulfilled with what I’ve reached so far, but I wish I could start earlier. Starting a business made me realise the importance of relationships, and the best way to build a relationship is to help someone achieve something meaningful. Be thoughtful and make the new person feel appreciated on their first day of work. Be patient and sit down and talk with someone who you can tell is having a bad day. Be kind and tell the people around you they are talented and you sure are glad they are on your side. Our lives are measured by how many people we help. So keep your head up, and whenever you have the chance to create a special moment for someone, do not hesitate.
Who has been the greatest influence on your life?
In my personal life, my husband. He has helped me in the constant strive to find balance between home life and work. He´s had a positive influence on me. He taught me about what it means to live up to my worth. He has had a profound impact on how I approach my work. Also my best friends have been a great influence in my life and always by my side and today I am proud to have them as partners.
You are very passionate about women’s empowerment. How are you contributing to this?
Women empowerment seeks to stimulate the confidence in women by providing to them everything that in their capacity to help them see the skills that they contain and are dormant within them. A proper nurturing, polishing and sharpening of those skills is only made possible through better education, awareness and a space to freely express oneself. Women empowerment is essential today because earlier, women were not allowed to receive higher education, the society was backward and the times were different. But now the times have changed. Women take up the same responsibilities as men and do a wonderful job in showcasing their talents when given an opportunity to. It is necessary that they are given a chance to compete on the same level as men only to be able to benefit the employment and job spheres of our country.
You are a mother of two and a very successful woman at the same time. How do you find the balance?
I don`t believe in the idea of “work-life balance” I would prefer. I am trying to live an “integrated life”. I feel like that whole concept is setting women up to be disappointed in themselves for not spending enough time doing such and such. I take a more fluid approach. I try to spend as much of my life as possible doing what I like with people whose company I enjoy. The only regret I have is that I don`t spent enough time with my children.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Think big, plan small. It’s vital to have a clear vision of where you want to be in the future and set big exciting goals that will have you leaping out of bed each morning and motivated throughout the day, every day, no matter what obstacles come your way. That said, you need to be clear about the details, set lots, and many micro goals along the way so you can see yourself making progress. If you only set big goals, every day you don’t achieve them, you’ll have a sense of failure. So ticking off all the achievements on the road to success is important. Big goals aren’t always there to be achieved, but to motivate you to become the person that is capable of achieving them. During the last years I learned that to be successful in what you do, you need to be focused, to be empathic, to always upgrade your skills and evolve, and most importantly, to dare.
What do you hope to see happen in the near future for small businesses and entrepreneurs in Albania?
Small businesses, we are told, are the lifeblood of Albania. In reality, they are far more than that. They are vital to the economic survival of billions worldwide. Our policies need to be able to evolve and keep pace with technological and global developments, but this is simply not how our nations are structured, and it’s not how our legislative bodies operate. If our policies can’t adapt fast enough to keep up with the changes wrought on society (by technological developments and increasing globalisation), perhaps we can train our people to adapt. Globalisation is not a choice. It is a reality. It is not going to disappear. It’s like breathing. By improving our skills through knowledge, we can make sure to improve these people’s future and make a real impact in their lives.
What are the main challenges that women face in Albania?
Being a woman in business today, in Albania, is something that in the past was never possible. Even now, this fact constitutes a major difficulty for the business categories they are able to commit, which shouldn’t be the only faced problem in a series of troubles. Business is difficult and allows very little room for mistakes, because as many of them confirm, in Albania it is a matter of mentality. The main obstacle that women may have while entering a business sector is exactly the confidence they have in themselves, which usually seems to take them one step back. The problem is not always the laws or policies of the country towards business, but that women should have the self-confidence to push ahead. On the other side, the knowledge and the skills are an important issue holding a woman from leading innovation. Women have always showed that their characters are full of more than capable in achieving personal milestones. In Albania, the women entrepreneurs started businesses due to the contribution of society and healthier family situations. Women entrepreneurs have to face a hard competition with men entrepreneurs who are easily involved in the development areas, carrying out their products. If we talk about a small country as Albania is, and with an economy in transition, the difficulties rises and the challenges are not anymore this general, but they grow more and more complex. In many surveys made and many statistics analysed, there can be seen that there is a small percentage of hard-working and successful women in enterprises; highly educated, married with children, and very capable in their field of expertise. Women are strong and their character may handle a lot more than is usually believed. Women may be successful and sometimes more than men are.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Be a Mentor!
You can be the difference in someone’s life; you can be the catalyst for something amazing in another person’s life and change it forever. Every night before you go to bed, you see yourself feeling satisfied with your day’s work; it is this exact feeling why people would want to work for themselves. It is about doing the best that you can for your customers, striving hard for excellence in all the endeavors driving them to start a company.
What is your top message for our readers?
You have to have a positive mindset and fully believe that you can succeed in whatever it is you’ve chosen to do, even if everyone else is telling you otherwise You’ll be amazed by how much negativity you’ll get from often surprising sources, so you need to have an unshakable belief in yourself. Your value to the marketplace will depend on the skills that you have. It will also depend on how you use them. People that want to improve their value must improve upon their skills. There are skills in all areas of life and understanding how to develop skills and how to use them will help you grow as an individual. Entrepreneurs are skill-hungry, they want to improve the skills they have acquired and they want to learn new skills every day. Work hard and work smart. You need to be willing to do what other people don’t do so that you can have what other people don’t have.
What are your tips for women out there who feel like they can’t succeed in their dream career, and don’t have as many chances as men in the same career paths?
I find this attitude an excuse for not trying so hard. Not one job is perfect. Not one job comes without doing a few things each day that you do not enjoy doing. Patience is not simply the ability to wait — it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. Get the most qualifications you can and work as hard as you can in your career, because that will help in the future.