Mentors and mentees
„If I start something, I do it to the end.”
Andrea Tóth is a dynamic, determined, socially sensitive woman, a real entrepreneur. She has three children, runs many businesses, and is now participating in a second mentoring program as a mentor. When asking her how to meet these many needs, requirements and tasks, she answers: „"If I can do what I like, it does not take away energy from me, but it gives me energy."
Have you ever been employee with your habits?
I was, but only for a very short time. I started my career in health care as a midwife, but this period was very short. My career choice was not a coincidence: I really like kids, I have a strong social sensitivity, and I thought it might work, I would save the world. Then reality hit me, or in other words math came. The emotion must be obvious, but the numbers are indicating the direction. When I received my first payment, then I asked my boss whether I would receive this money weekly or daily, because I didn't even think I have to work for such salary for a month. When he said that this was a monthly salary, I already knew that this would not be good for me. I started working at the end of August and by September I had already been studying commerce, finance and accounting.
In the meantime, did you still work?
I spent two years by working at night, however I was sitting at school desk during the day. This is how I started College of Commerce, Catering and Tourism and later I continued with finance, accounting and economics.
It also shows that you are quite determined.
It is natural for me if I start something, I do it to the end. Even if I know this is not necessarily my career. What I learn, what I acquires as qualification can be definitely considered as an added value and not as a subtracted one. I also raise my children in this spirit.
How did your way lead to the entrepreneurial sphere? The first step is to say, thanks, I do not want this. The second is to look at yourself and to say, I care, I'm learning this. Many people can do this, and they certainly do as well, nevertheless they will not become entrepreneurs.
I came from a very massive merchant family, my mom was working at ÁFÉSZ. We always sold and bought something, but basically we exported and imported vegetables and fruits. The business was always present in our life, so I sucked the basics with breast milk. Of course, between the ages of 18 and 20, you think that self-realization is important, and you will show what you know. That's why I wanted to do something else at first.
How did you choose your studies?
As I am communicative, I love people, I know my personality type, I know myself, it was clear that I would not choose some kind of engineering career. Self-awareness is very important because you have to choose a career in which you feel yourself well, which gives you energy instead of loosing it. In this way, you won't even become nervous by finishing your work and going home to your family. The moment comes if you are paying attention to yourself when you will be able to turn negative experiences into positive energy. You will be your source of energy.
After two years, I think the parent's house was waiting for the "prodigal girl" with open gates.
Yes, I joined my mom's business. After a while, it turned out that no matter how determined I was, it was not possible to do everything at once, that is why I completed the last 2 college years in frame of fulltime training. Whatever I was dealing with, I always worked, for example I exported cherries to Germany. Thereafter my own businesses and enterprises followed each other. In addition to my current fruit and vegetable export-import business, I have three restaurants, a lottery furthermore an accounting and tender writing company.
Will you help him with his work?
I don't work for my husband's company, we are completely separating our businesses. Of course, my company provides services for him, we do book keeping and write tenders for him.
Having so many jobs and tasks why did you decide in the past and now as well to join programs helping other entrepreneurs, and how do you have time for this as well?
I think if you get something, you have to give it back. You can't get always. This motivated me in 2011 when I applied for the MENTOR-NET program and it is still motivating me nowdays as well. It was not a question for me to come and to do it.
For the second part of the question I can answer that a well-built business can operate without the daily involvement of its manager. I have always tried to choose my colleagues knowing that sooner or later I will delegate some of my tasks to them. However, it is not so easy because the ego is working against it. There are many people in the Hungarian SME sector who like to make the smallest decision themselves. I do not like that. Low ego, high professional humility - that's what drives me.
Trusting in the other people enables us to delegate tasks. Trust is the basis of mentoring process.
I learned to delegate very quickly and that is why I put a great emphasis on knowledge of human nature alongside professional competence because it helped me bring good people to my side. Of course, in the mentoring program, I also find it extremely important to build up and to maintain trust.
There are inevitably failures in the life of an entrepreneur, a lot can be learned from this. What do you think about the failure?
The failure is the reversed coat of the success. When you are in it, of course, you will not live in that way. People don't like failure, neither do I. Regardless it is important that you would have more successes. Of course, it is also a question what we are considering success. In private life, the family, children, how you feel in your everyday life, how you react to situations, how you handle conflict, how you treat people are the successes. I did not want to become an entrepreneur who is professionally very good but humanly is unsuccessful: there is no family and good people behind me. For me, the SUCCESS consists of small successes of our everyday life.
How is it possible to perform so well in professional life with three kids?
On the one hand, timing is very important. You need to know what you want to achieve with your business, what stage you are in, whether you want to start another new project or not. I carefully considered this situation, so having a baby was absolutely plannable. The other significant thing is that quality time has always been more important for me than quantitative one. When I was with my kids, with my family, I was fully present, not pushing my mobile phone. Therefore, I do not feel that I have missed anything.