This is an interview with Mr. Robert Frans, of Frans & Associates which was posted on the website of E Factor. E Factor is one of the worlds’ premier and fastest growing network of entrepreneurs.
With 19 years of expertise in the legal field, Robert Frans has worked for years as a deputy civil law notary at various civil law notary offices and got quite experienced at dealing with local and international clients and transactions. Today, Robert is Owner and Legal Counsel at Frans & Associates, an independent, young but duly experienced commercially oriented law firm in Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean.
“My biggest challenge has been finding the right balance between my personal and professional life. I’m sure I am not the only entrepreneur who has struggled with this…”
You already have a successful background as a lawyer at several existing companies. What inspired your decision to branch out as an entrepreneur?
“At first, many people were very skeptical about my wish to become an entrepreneur. I decided to get out of my comfort zone and prove them all wrong. I wanted to pursue my own vision of a law office, so I left the partnership I was in at the time. I was fed up with the daily grind and wanted to focus not only on my specializations, but also on projects that were challenging and new. After I started my own firm and things were going quite well, ‘Mr. Mo’ (as in “momentum”) came knocking on my door. Through my contacts I became involved in several new and exciting local as well as international business opportunities. I combined my entrepreneurial spirit, legal knowledge and multilingual skills along with more than 20 years of professional experience and the network I had built with a whole lot of guts in order to make my dream a reality. Today I am really happy doing my own thing.”
What goals did you have in mind when you first started your business?
“Honestly? To retire young and rich! [chuckles] But on serious note, my goal was to build a boutique law firm that was a powerhouse in corporate law, international trading and business liaisons with foreign legal entities.”
What do you find more rewarding: making your startup a success, or watching it continue to grow over the years and why?
“Making a startup a success early on is great, but that is of course just the beginning. To me the most challenging and rewarding part of becoming an entrepreneur is maintaining your goals of growth and achievement. It is scary to see how many businesses start out doing well, but disappear within a few years. I believe that keeping the business successful in good times as well as bad is the real challenge, but the biggest obstacles lead to the greatest rewards.”
Other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
“To invest in knowledge. As an entrepreneur, I made a lot of mistakes in the past and I was never ashamed to acknowledge and take responsibility for them. Repeating my mistakes was not an option. In order to ensure this, I started reading books on business topics and personal development, attending the workshops of business gurus, speaking with a business coach etc. I not only acquired the necessary knowledge, but put it to good use by taking action.”
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment as an entrepreneur?
“I am most proud of the respect and recognition I have gained both locally and internationally as a savvy lawyer and businessman. I have worked hard to earn this respect and will continue to do so. My motto is: Always do what you say you are going to do and maintain the highest levels of professionalism and integrity.”
“My biggest challenge has been finding the right balance between my personal and professional life.”
What has been your biggest business challenge as an entrepreneur? How did you, or do you, overcome it?
“My biggest challenge has been finding the right balance between my personal and professional life. I’m sure I am not the only entrepreneur who has struggled with this. I spend a great deal of time on my job which also includes a lot of time spent travelling. I am very passionate about what I do because I love my work, but it’s important to always keep a sound balance with my family life. By sharpening my time management skills, again through reading books and applying what I learn via trial and error, I have managed to build a healthy balance.”
You do a lot of business in Latin and South America. What do you consider essential for working in this part of the world?
“First and foremost, you must speak their language. It’s also crucial to understand their business culture, customs and to do as much work as possible face to face. That last one is very important because in Latin America, personal connections are a vital aspect of working together. So you have to be willing to gear up and go there.”
Did you have a mentor when you first started your career, and what is the most important tip someone has ever given you?
“I did have a mentor, or as I call it a business coach. I enrolled in the ActionCOACH program, an internationally acclaimed business coaching firm, and decided to get one on one coaching. It has helped me a great deal. The most important tip I received was to do what most will not do today so that you can do what most cannot do tomorrow. This includes a willingness to go the extra mile, be creative, set smart goals and work not only hard but efficiently and effectively.”
“If you lose money you can always have a second chance, but that is not the case with lost time.”
What tools and apps do you depend on daily for productivity and generally making your life a bit easier?
“I measure and rate everything I do. Quickbooks e.g. opens the possibility of developing graphs etc. to track all of my finances. I use various spreadsheets to measure my overall efficiency. I also track prospective new project development. I believe that time is our most precious commodity so you must use it well in order to be successful. If you lose money you can always have a second chance, but that is not the case with lost time.”
You’ve been an EFactor member since 2014. Primarily, what do you use EFactor for and how does it help you as an entrepreneur?
“I use EFactor to learn from other entrepreneurs as well as to monitor new developments and trends in global business. In addition, I also use EFactor to share my own insights and experiences with my fellow entrepreneurs, and to benefit from their feedback.”