I recently got inspired by the story of INSIFA, an Albanian sugar confectionery company on whose website I’m working on. It’s so very rare for Albanian businesses to establish themselves in the global market, and this story was especially sweet because well…it’s about candies, cakes and chocolates made in Maminas (Albania), and sold in three continents. Now, I’m no business expert, but I do recognize a job well done (greatly done!), and considering that I’m building my own freelance business, I decided to treat it like a lecture and write down the lessons it taught me.
1. Deliver Quality
During my long years as a consumer I’ve found that the highest quality that Albanian businesses usually deliver is the imported one. We surely do have great Albanian products in the market, but somehow, they get lost amidst all those products made by famous foreign companies, especially the Italian ones that we love so much. (I’m not naming names here.) And even those great quality “Made in Albania” products don’t really travel far. So how did INSIFA manage to sell in more than 12 different countries all over the world, including US?
QUALITY. Their priority is the high quality of their products which comes from international production standards and services.
2. Invest, Upgrade, and Repeat
This is the part of the story that made me a believer. The Osmani brothers – the founders of the company – started small. They opened a restaurant. It went well, so they invested that money on a candy production line. That went well too, so they added a chocolate production line. They went on investing and adding new products, upgrading their technology, recipes, services, everything. A journalist asked one of the brothers on how they managed to involve their children in the business considering that rich children usually go in the opposite direction (her words, not mine). His reply was: “We never had any money. All the money we made, we invested, so our children had to work for every penny they got.”
3. Uphold Values
Representing values and actually upholding them are two very different things. And no, I’m not accusing Albanian businesses of not having values. On the contrary. I think we give so much importance to them, we talk so much about them that sometimes…just sometimes, we forget to uphold them. It’s not that we forget, but sometimes we have this misconstrued idea that values don’t really make for good business.
INSIFA doesn’t think like that. How do I know? Because even though they have reached this international level of success, they make sure to this day that the restaurant which gave them the good name still makes the best traditional dishes, and has the same hospitality as always.
4. Being rich doesn’t mean stop working
I am not going to say that rich Albanian business owners are lazy. I’m more inclined to say that rich Albanian business owners appreciate more than most the value of hard work, because they have seen the results of that. The Osmani brothers are still working hard to go even further with their business.
Working hard is not just e lesson for children.
To sum it up, working on INSIFA’S profile was as informative as it was inspiring, which surprised me, considering that I’ve always thought my inspiration, and refreshing ideas come from translating movies. Lesson learned in more ways than one.