Name: Guillermo de la Orden
Age: I'm a middle-aged man who was born in Madrid in Spain from a Seville emigrant family.
What is your business called?
Malaga Tapas restaurant. Most people have heard of this Spanish city, some link it to golf courses, some to holiday breaks and others to Muslim Spain's historical past, but everyone knows Malaga, and that is the reason behind the name of the business.
Where is it based?
What service does it offer?
What we believe is healthy food with reminiscences of 7th Century Spanish cuisine.
Who does it sell to?
The general public.
What is its turnover?
How many employees?
This is a family business. Myself and my business partner work full-time and we have four part-time employees.
When was it formed?
My first trading month was March 2011, the start of spring - not a good time to start a business. The weather was changing and it was therefore very challenging. It took a few months to start seeing customers come in. I have always believed in the importance of customer-focused service in order to create a word-of-mouth benefit.
What were you doing before you took the plunge?
I came to Scotland at the age of 25. I had decided to travel and experience other cultures and had already stayed in Berlin, Amsterdam and London. I had no plans to stay in Scotland but I met an Argentinian in London who told me Scotland was a very friendly place. My background was in music. I worked in Spain as a sound engineer and I knew that Glasgow had a strong connection with Celtic music so I came here, met friends and decided to stay for a while to learn the language and study for a degree in media technology. When I finished my degree I went to work at IBM in Greenock. I was a technical support specialist helping firms in Spain fix computer problems over the phone. I also dealt with the updating of the Call Centre Website and the database.
Why did you take the plunge?
Having worked at IBM for seven years I decided to move on but discovered that I would have to retrain or choose another career because my media technology qualifications were with analogue technology.
I have always had a keen interest in Spanish and Andalucian history and culture, especially cooking, so wanted to study a subject that brought all these interests together. I found a course at the Open University on environmental control and public health, because I not only wanted to be a chef; I also wanted to broaden my knowledge base. Then I had the opportunity to demonstrate what I had learned and started to work as a chef. I ran a Spanish restaurant in East Kilbride called Ola and doubled its income in seven months.
When the opportunity arose, rather than working for someone else, I decided to open my own restaurant and work for myself.
What was your biggest break?
A friend of mine - today my business partner - informed me of restaurant premises he had heard were available to rent. We jumped at the opportunity and invested in a comprehensive redecoration of the property and opened our restaurant.
What was your worst moment?
Running a restaurant proved to be more difficult than we had imagined. Whilst we were full of energy and enthusiasm, the economic downturn made it particularly challenging. It was hard; but the hardest part was not running the restaurant. The hardest part was the human element - realising that some people were out to take advantage of our inexperience.
The most difficult period was shortly after opening when we had to make good on all the start up costs and, at the end of the first month, we discovered that we did not have sufficient funds to feed our families - we were essentially working for free!
What do you most enjoy about running the business?
I had always thought that the arts are not only linked to music, drama and painting, but also to cooking. The art of dressing a salad, the mixture of spices to generate feelings for diners is also an art to making people happy through the palate. I also enjoy the freedom of decision-making that running my own business brings.
What do you least enjoy?
Sales reps appear to call into my business with increasing regularity with what can seem like the sole intention of closing a deal which benefits themselves and their company rather than mine.
It can be difficult to recruit employees totally committed to the business. It seems that everyone wants to be an architect, doctor or lawyer rather than work in the hospitality sector. In such a small business it is unfortunate that we cannot afford to pay high salaries, which can cause staff to depart during the holiday period.
What are your ambitions for the firm?
Malaga Tapas is a name known only to our customers but, in the future, I hope to develop it into a brand producing food produce available in various retail outlets. I'm always thinking about how to develop the business in new directions.
What could the Westminster government and/or Scottish government do that would most help?
Aside from reducing VAT to help make eating out more affordable to customers, I think the government could do more to assist business start-ups by delivering useful advice and holding their hands as they learn all the various aspects of building a successful business.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned?
One of the things I've learned since starting up in business is the importance of being customer-focused rather than focusing on generating profits for the business; profits follow on from giving a good customer service. I also think that it's very important to help employees recognise that, rather than their work just being a job, they are actually helping to run the business and that, without them, the business has no value.
How do you relax?
I don't like to relax. The definition of relaxing is to make your muscles less tense, but my business requires me always to be alert. Relaxing while you are running a business can cause a blank space that can grow to become a black hole, which is impossible to remove. Within the business structure, taking the right decisions about a range of complex matters can help me feel relaxed and ease tension.