Borqna Telbis, picture taken by Julian Donov
Liam Webber is a 28-year-old British man, who decided to continue his life and do business in Bulgaria
When Liam decided to do business in Bulgaria, he had to justify his decision in front of his friends and answer ridiculous questions like: “What is Bulgaria?”, “You have a pretty dark skin. Are you sure you will be safe there?” and even “Are they Russians?”. Several years later no-one ever asks Liam such questions as they see how well he is doing. For a very short time he manages to establish himself as one of the best English teachers in Sofia, working with students of every age and level. His communication skills and creativity are his hidden weapon. He is into PR and communication and has a lot of ideas how to develop. However, Liam is not just a steam blower, who tries to talk nonsense. For his young age, Liam Webber is very sensitive to the social processes surrounding him and notices things, which most foreigners and even Bulgarians, don’t notice. He is so confident that many would think it is inappropriate. But he is certain that confidence should be supported.
A little history
I have a always wanted to be an actor. I used to study in a very famous school founded by sir Richard Branson – BRIT. In 2008, I was accepted in one of America’s greatest acting schools, but at the time the crisis started. The tuition fee was 100 000 dollars. I tried to find some way to gather money, but the world was collapsing and no-one had money to help me. At the time I was working for the local authorities as an education projects coordinator. We had a very young mayor, who was trying to improve the standard of living of his citizens. As a representative of the local authorities, I was traveling in other EU countries, to spread the idea that young people’s voice should be heard. In 2009, I discovered Bulgaria this way, but I didn’t know anything about it. Christian was a colleague of mine in BRIT, who was Bulgarian. I had another friend who was training kick boxing with me – Ivo. I had already had a taste of Bulgarian culture and “musaka”.
I moved to Bulgaria at the end of 2012, having already visited twice. I had the opportunity to meet some people and get a feeling for the business opportunities. I noticed that there were some things missing here and others were not quite developed. I didn’t come with a lot of money in my account. I had 1000 pounds for rent and food. The first several months were hard, but I found a job at an educational centre. I wanted to see the teachers’ approach and the effects on the children and parents. This was when I found out that a lot of things were missing in the educational system. Creativity was definitely one of the things they lacked. The children were taught to copy and learn by heart, but not to figure it out by themselves. After an year I figured that I should do something.
In the beginning I wasn’t alone. One cosmetics company was supporting me. The daughter of a lady, who later told me she was selling American nail polish, was my student. She told me that they normally communicated with their american collagues in English. At one point she told me, they were situated in the business park near Tokuda, and they had a spare room. She asked me if I wanted to take it and educate her staff and in return they would take care of the financial, management and advertisement part of the teaching centre, which I decided to name “Mr. English”. I felt I was ready to take this step into the business world so I said “yes”. I had the opportunity to develop my teaching style and also my own way of teaching.
After around a year I realized that I should continue on my own and do everything I dreamt of. I kept the name of the educational centre – Mr. English. My Bulgarian friends helped me with the bureaucracy around opening my own company. After that, I was really lucky I found this place I am in right now. I am happy that Armen Nazaryan is my landlord. His English speaking skills were not that great and neither were my Bulgarian skills, but he understood me as only one foreigner could.
In my opinion, the social media was the way to go if I want someone to find out I exist. Furthermore, it is free or rather a quite cheap way to promote yourself. I have spent countless hours in social media, searching for and meeting people. After a year, my LinkedIn profile has 11 000 contacts, `my Facebook page – 5000 and other two profiles with around 3000. My next marketing step were my students.
I noticed that people in Bulgaria have had bad experiences with other educational centres, but are willing to trust me because I am a native speaker. I can assure you that 99% of the people don’t regret this decision. I don’t just teach them English. In my lessons, the students don’t feel like they are studying. They accept me as a mentor and a friend. I am a good listener and I can show them a different perspective. I am quite intuitive and can motivate people. I have helped a lot of people with anxiety about an interview they are going to attend, or the new boss that is going to come from Norway, India or anywhere else, also the with overcoming the fear of being replaced by the younger generation. I also helped young people, who were full of self-doubts, but were mature enough to deserve the job they wanted – I gave them confidence. This motivational aspect is something my students get for free.
Source: Manager magazine