The biggest step in my life so far has been when I changed my career completely. When I left behind my stable leader position at a multinational company and decided to become a coach and trainer as my main profession. But I am not alone with the big dreams and big changes. In the last times, I saw many other people deciding likewise. I have brought you on of these stories, the one of Zoltán Serényi.
Our friendship with Zoli goes back to years. When I was still working in a multinational company – before the time of my career change – we were working together for a while. Then, we continued our work at different companies, we kept our friendship. Many years later, somehow we made the decision about the big change around the same time. Zoli also left his financial leadership work and moved to the Hungarian “sea” of Lake Balaton and started a completely new career – accommodation, agriculture and tourism. Was everything really this simple? You can get to know it from the below conversation.
What previous experience did you have in this area before you started your own business?
During university I worked in tourism, my first degree is also connected to it, so maybe I just went back to my original studies. I had no experience at all however regarding vineyards, agriculture and processing the fruits and vegetables.
Your new business got the name of ‘Itt és Most Szent György-hegy’ (‘Here and Now Szent György Mountain). What was your concept when creating it?
Mainly I was inspired by my own travels and also by how I, myself, can have a good rest after the hard work. Therefore, the most important was – besides the quietness, tranquillity and fresh air – that the guests can have a good rest in comfortable beds (5-star hotels have similar ones), that they can be in a place which is fully equipped and serves completely the purpose of switching off from everyday life and also the recharging of the batteries. During the creation, the design had a big emphasis and to have everything in the houses – from badminton to ear swabs.
What helped you to accomplish what you dreamt of?
I was thinking about this change for a very long time already. Maybe the huge stress and responsibility, plus the 12-14 hours of daily work in my last position helped me to say it one day: this is not worth it. It does not recharge me, I do not need another pair of shoes or a cleaning lady or lunch orders. I realised that I buy my own free time and instead, I could live from a lot less money in a lot better quality. I loved my work for a long time, but I think I reached the point of the burning-out and I didn’t want to move forward or to continue.
My work didn’t make me happy anymore, so I didn’t see the point in investing this much energy day by day.
It is a strange thing though, that after 9 months, I started to miss the intellectual challenge that I experienced in my previous work. After starting my business on the spring of 2019, at the October of the same year I accepted a project work from my previous company. I enjoyed it a lot, but it was already a different story compared to the one of 3 years ago.
Which was your biggest fear and difficulty in starting your own business?
I think for most people the biggest fear is losing the financial stability. As an entrepreneur you don’t get a monthly fix salary and you are in a lot bigger insecurity than being an employee. I started my business with a 15-month saving, this is how I could decrease my own sense of insecurity. It is interesting though, how much less we spend when we know that the salary will not come next month, so actually this 15-month saving would have lasted for even a year and a half. Besides these, the actual work had many problems as well. Managing the place, the vineyard, the fruit trees is not easy for a city boy. During the renovation there were also surprises of course, which had to be solved. But looking back now, these were only tasks 2 years ago which had to be done.
How did you solve these situations?
When you start your own business and you are flexible enough, you learn to manage these issues very quickly. You always have your eyes wide open, you read, do and try thing until you get there and solved it. For me it also helped knowing that what I was about to do would be good. And when I didn’t remember this, my friends, family and partner reminded me.
Despite all these external encouragements, in the beginning I asked myself the question every day: Will it go well for sure?
How do you feel your business is doing now?
The feedbacks from the guests are very good and it gives me a lot when my work is appreciated. I believe that we are on track and ready for the next steps. This winter there will be some improvements, with which we can provide the guests an even more unforgettable experience: tracking bikes, new things in the garden, plus heating with which the season can go longer. One of my goals is to expand the property – this is what we are working on at the moment – , it will determine the next year.
What are your plans for the future?
Besides all of the above, I want to process more products from the garden, increase the number of bookings for the spring and autumn months and many more. I have a lot of plans.
If 10 years ago, when we were still working together at the multinational company, I had told you that in 2020 these would be your future plans, what would you have said?
10 years ago, I couldn’t even imagine my career having such a big change. Least I would have thought that I would open towards working in agriculture as well. This is exactly the beauty of becoming open for the changes.
What are those 3 things that should be absolutely considered if someone is thinking about a career change or starting their own business?
I think it is very important to let go of our fears and to know that we are capable of solving the issues ahead of us. Creating a good business plan about the incomes and expenses before the launching date, so that you can see what amount you need for your living and that it can help you on the way forward. Maybe the most important is to start that particular business, that you believe will make you really happy and through which you can create something that is a valuable product, service or career for yourself.