Part 1: Introduction & Interview
Q. What is your name?
A. My full name is Rambod Taghaodi. While “Rambod” is my first name by which everybody calls me, “Taghaodi” is my family name.
Q. Do you live in a small town or a big city?
A. I live in a coastal seaport city called Vancouver, which is located in the Lower Mainland region of ‘British Columbia’ in Canada. Before migrating to Canada almost a decade ago, I lived in a suburban area in my homeland (say your country name).
Q. How long have you lived in this city?
A. I have been living here for almost a decade now. I, along with my family, migrated to Canada almost ten years ago and since then we have been living in Vancouver.
Q. Do you like your hometown?
A. Yes, I do like my hometown a lot. I love “Vancouver” because it is not only a cosmopolitan city that offers a lot of outdoor activities but also a city with many picturesque scenes. The friendly neighbours and the livability of the city make it a great place to live in.
Q. What is your hometown famous for?
A. Vancouver is one of the most famous cities in the world due to its liveability, favourable environment and fantastic landscape of ocean and woods. Vancouver is one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life, and this city is renowned for its beauty, local seafood, rain and outdoor recreation.
Part 2: Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card
Describe a small company in your hometown that you think is successful.
You should say:
- how you know about the company
- what they do and/or produce
- how long it is in operation
and explain why you think the company is successful.
[You will have to talk about the topic for one to two minutes. You have one minute to think about what you are going to say. You can make some notes to help you if you wish.]
Sample Answer 1:
This is an interesting question because I think the answer I’ll give reflects what I think of as ‘success’ to me being a successful business isn’t necessarily about making the owner rich, or growing the company bigger each year, it can be about other things too.
I’m going to tell you about a small company I know, how I know it, what they produce and why I I would call it successful. As to how it became successful, well I suppose I’ll have to just offer my best guess – if it was possible to explain why a company does well I think we would all be entrepreneurs in the making!
The company I am thinking of is run by a friend of mine. We met through a running club. She makes very high quality bespoke cookies. The biscuits themselves are delicious, but actually, it isn’t really so much about the food, it’s about the way she designs and presents them. She will do any design or theme and create special shaped and decorated biscuits to order. So, for example, if you have a friend who is celebrating a special birthday, and they love cycling and rock climbing, she might make up a box of biscuits including one in the shape of a bike, some mountains and ropes to represent abseiling equipment. She does a lot of wedding favours – small biscuits with a personal design incorporating the initials of the bride and groom on e.g. the number plate of a classic car perhaps. She even did a special order for me. A friend of mine had a riding accident and broke her arm very badly. To cheer her up I asked my biscuit making friends to make a very special box. It featured a cartoon version of the horse she had been riding; the back of an ambulance; a syringe – to represent the morphine injections the paramedics had issued, and a representation of my friend with her arm in plaster. It was brilliant!
As to why the business is successful, I think it’s for a number of reasons. The actual cost of ingredients is quite modest so the overheads aren’t huge, so my friend is able to add value through her artwork. She meets a niche need, I don’t know of any similar businesses in the region so there is not too much competition. She can also send her biscuits through the post, and they both travel and keep well, so she can supply all over the world – in theory at least, a limitless market. It helps that she is good at what she does so repeat orders keep on coming. However, whilst that explains how she keeps in profit, for me what makes the business a success, is that she has found a way of working for herself that generates an income, but gives her a really good work life balance. She can work flexibility and take time off when she needs to. If she wants to go for a run in the morning before work and start late she can; if she thinks the lovely weather means she’d be better off working on her allotment she can do that too – although, of course, the work has to be done later. It is fantastic that she has made a success of her business idea, and the company has grown enough that she is also able to employ a part-time assistant to help her in busy spells as well.
Setting up the business was an act of faith, there were no guarantees when she started out, but she has worked hard, built up and retained a good reputation, and her products always raise a smile of delight in the recipient. Her main problem is that customers complain her biscuits look too good to eat. This frustrates her, they are made for eating,’ keep a photo eat the biscuits’ is her advice, and she should know, she baked them herself!
Model Answer 2:
A small web design & development company in my hometown, in my opinion, is a successful company. The name of this company is ‘Net Gear’ (…say a name you prefer…) and it was established by two young IT graduate only 3 years back.
It has been proven to be a successful company because within 3 years it has expanded rapidly and now they have 2 offices with more than 30 employees. They have a good client base and since one of the owners is personally known to me, I know that they are making an enviable profit. They have been awarded as a promising IT firm last year and their success stories, as well as 2 of their world class software, were reported in a local newspaper.
I know the owners personally and the company office is near to my home. I have visited this company several times and thus I know many details of this company including what type of works they do, who works for this company, what are their products etc.
This company is basically a web designing and development company and it mainly designs and develops the eCommerce website for the clients. They have some in-house software including Content Management software and an accounting software.
After the owners started the companies there were only 5 employees including themselves. They had only 2-3 clients and their office was in their personal house. In 3 years they have worked hard and gained many successes including the office and employee expansion, the output they produce and the revenue they earn.
Part 3: Details Discussion
Q. Why do some people want to open their own business?
A. Some people just want to do something on their own and hate the idea of working for someone else for the rest of their life. They want to start something that they feel would make them enough money and grow over time. However, there are others who want to do business because they think they have some sort of creative ideas and they are good at something. Finally, some people are in business as their parents and grandparents were in the same business.
Q. What challenges and difficulties do people face when they try to open a small business?
A. Before starting a business, almost everyone thinks that the business will thrive and make them enough money. However, when they run the business and get to experience the challenges, they realise the real world of business. For many small businesses just staying open or running the business is a big challenge after a few months of starting. For others, getting customers and making money to cover the cost is another hurdle. Most small businesses close within a year after they are open, so if they get past that hurdle, the next most important thing that they’ll have to tackle is getting long-term customers. Spending some money for advertisement, getting expert employees who are passionate and dedicated and winning customers are other big difficulties for small businesses.
Q. How can small businesses benefit the people in their community?
A. Small businesses target local people as their customers and can cater to the whims and wishes of the citizens who live in the neighbourhood. They often create employment opportunities for community members and customise their services or products to make them more suitable for the local people. They understand the custom and tradition of the community and often reflect them in their service offering. Finally, it allows people to get to know each other and talk more often and thus fostering the value and moral of the community in a more positive way. For instance, local cafes and gift shops in a community are often the places where people from the same neighbourhood meet and talk.
Q. How do you think some businesses or companies become successful?
A. From my point of view, one important factor why a company or a business becomes successful is having a unique business idea that is run by passionate and talented individuals. Although they might face numerous challenges and have many rivals, they do not lose their hope, work continuously to offer something great to the customers and thus outperform their rivals and take their reputation to the next level. Having skilled people and visionary managers and administrative personnel are important as well for a business to success.
Q. Why are some companies more successful than others?
A. I believe that successful companies are backed by talented people, great ideas, innovation, cautious administration, huge money and a bit of luck. They may also have the right mix of products and/or services at the right time for the business to sustain and grow. Successful companies also learn how to develop and manage relationships with a wide range of organizations, groups, and people that have a stake in their firms.
On the contrary, some companies fail to succeed because they do not have the right expertise, trained and experienced workers and have internal conflicts among the owners and stakeholders. They often do not learn from their mistakes and fail to attract potential customers. Lack of clear planning and vision often are the reasons for their failure.
Q. Is it easier to work as an employee or to manage a company? Why?
A. I think working for a company as a salaried employee is far simpler and easier than running a successful business. Such employees do not have any concern of making a profit from the business and pay the workers at the end of each month. They do not worry about becoming bankrupt or losing market share and money. And a salaried employee follows his/her daily responsibilities, finishes his/her tasks and gets a fixed amount at the end of the month. A business owner, on the contrary, has several responsibilities and obligations to fulfil before he or she can make a profit. However, successful businessmen earn way more than salaried employees and have much freedom in taking vacations.
In my opinion, having a job in a reputed and high paying organisation is far better than running a business. Running a successful business requires great planning, hard work, huge capital and vision. Not all people have these facilities and qualities.