Baigel Corp first opened its doors on Friday, September 1, 2017. At the time, there was actually only one door to open for business. Whilst it was exciting to start the firm, it was also rather daunting that after 28 years of working for other practices, I was left by myself in a 76 square foot office accompanied only with a desk, chair, filing cabinet and a large window.
Therefore, today marks a moment of reflection, thanks and humble celebration. I will start with the thanks. Any business needs good luck and hard work to endure, together with the help and support of others.
I would like to thank many people, but first and foremost my wife, who accepted that it was my dream to work for myself and finally be able to do things the way that I wanted to do them; the right way! It hasn’t been easy, but I thank her for her support and love.
My father managed to see the start of the firm, but unfortunately passed away last year and therefore I am sad that he was not able to see how the firm has grown and established itself. He was still worrying about me when he passed, as any good parent would do. He taught me many things that I only fully appreciate now that he is gone, but most importantly, he taught me to never give up.
I would like to thank my colleagues. Each and every colleague has contributed and continues to do so. Not working together in person over the past 2.5 years has not been ideal, but their efforts and flexibility have enabled the firm to operate efficiently. In particular Jeremy Kroll has toiled alongside me and given more effort than either of us thought possible when we got together. Over the five years, some people have come and gone, but I am thankful for their efforts too and wish them success in their new fields.
I also thank all those who supported the start up of Baigel Corp and referred matters to me at the outset. That support will never ever be forgotten and will be deeply appreciated for the rest of my life.
We are also thankful to all those who have suffered financial misfortunes and trusted us to help them through the distress and many challenges. We never forget that we are dealing with peoples’ lives, the impact on their families, and their hopes and dreams.
Whilst I had a vision of what I wanted the firm to be, and I even put together a 5-year plan, the firm is rather different from the vision. The initial aim was to be a high-quality boutique firm to provide effective, practical and affordable insolvency and restructuring advice solely to small businesses.
Well, the world is now a very different place from 2017. I certainly did not have a lethal global pandemic and lock down of businesses in the business plan. The decades of experience that I gained by assisting directors cope with crises was certainly helpful for Baigel Corp as we worked hard to survive the waves of Covid.
It is humbling to see that Baigel Corp is larger and more diversified than I forecast. Statistics indicate that approximately 49% of small start up businesses fail within the first 5 years and therefore there is a sense of relief to have reached that milestone safely. Please permit me to share a short background as to how we got through the first 5 years.
In the beginning, I had great support from people referring corporate work during the first year. Then my friend, Jeremy Kroll, joined in October 2018 and started a consumer/personal insolvency division which was something not originally considered. It made sense for us because I do corporate work and Jeremy does consumer work. The first few months were hectic and we soon opened a second larger office and thought we would grow into it. Thanks to the team’s efforts, it soon became apparent that we were going to need a bigger office and we moved in on January 31, 2020. Then, Covid…….
We locked down the offices on March 11, 2020 and set up our colleagues to work from home. The move was surprisingly smooth and we anticipated that we would be back within 3 months, yet we are still operating largely from home and have found it to be much more convenient and efficient for everyone. Anyone who has had to travel across Toronto traffic recently will agree that working from home is a huge time and stress saver.
There have been other business stresses to confront during Covid and being a start-up meant that we were confronting the same issues as other small businesses. We are a small business advising small businesses, so when people ask for help, we can do so after sharing similar experiences.
In early 2021, an opportunity arose to open an office in Alberta. It was not an easy decision to make at the time given the unknown future, but using my old school motto “dare to be wise” (Sapere Aude), we took the plunge.
So, 5 years on from sitting in a small empty room, I can say that I am very thankful to have 15 wonderful colleagues and for the firm to be operating two divisions and have a presence in two provinces. In the words of Queen, I can truthfully say “it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise”. It has been hard, stressful work for a start up business in a scenario that no one could have envisioned, but it has felt worthwhile because we helped people throughout. I cannot be so bold as to predict what the next 5 years will bring except that it will be entirely different from any of my predictions. As a firm, we can confidently look forward to facing the opportunities and difficulties of the future.
Thank you all.
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