“It’s less easy than what I had initially envisaged but I absolutely don’t regret my choice”. At 53, Benjamin Nolf has been at the head, since last fall, of a small business specializing in moisture treatment and based in Douai in the North. Faced with a few uncertainties, he had to deal with a slower start than he had initially envisaged. However, he certainly does not question his decision. This decision, taken in 2021, to leave the career in finance he had been pursuing since his studies at Edhec and which had taken him from his first audit assignments to Daf positions in various companies: WTX (automotive, 50 million euros in turnover) and Anaïk (professional gifts) in particular.
“I needed a change”
Why this sudden bifurcation towards entrepreneurship? “I was bored at my job. I realized that it actually no longer corresponded to my desires”, he recalls. He then negotiated his departure, in February 2021, in order to be able to turn the page more serenely and accompany his successor for a few months, while preparing the sequel. “Initially, I thought I would get into an activity of Daf timeshare to see other things, support more modest-sized companies, but in the end, I came across a possibility of business takeover which I found interesting”.
The idea did not fall on him by chance, it had been floating around in his head for several years but he had put it in the background, hitherto too busy to embark on a serious search for a target. “I was more open to a takeover of an industrial company than to a construction company, a sector that I did not know at all, but the potential and the activity of this company which generated 1.5 million in turnover. business attracted me. The prospects seemed very good”.
Except that, just after the start of negotiations with the seller, all the staff decided to resign… “The employees were not aware of the discussions, their decision had no connection with me but rather a dispute with the owner of the company. These resignations quickly led the company to the liquidation. As I had already invested a lot in this adventure and the tracks seemed good to me, I started anyway by taking over the equipment and the premises. The former employees did not wish to return, they had found a job in the meantime”.
“Difficult” start but “rewarding” experience
From a business takeover, Benjamin Nolf finally moved on to a business creation, that of Assainiom. Since last September, he has been working to make the name of the company known and to develop his activity. “I gradually rebuilt a team: I now have three salespeople, two installers and two prospectors”. The ex-Daf also trained to obtain the necessary technical qualifications so as not to depend solely on those of its employees.
“The start of the activity is taking longer than I had envisaged. I am not yet drawing a salary and the income from Pôle Emploi benefits is obviously lower than my previous salaries, but I knew it, I made this choice knowingly.. My financial situation, with children who have finished their studies, allowed me to do so. I know what I have accepted to lose if necessary”, emphasizes the new entrepreneur. “Worth it, what I’m going through today is extremely rewarding. I learn every day. Not to mention that I’m in a business development logic, it’s really stimulating, I don’t get bored anymore!”.
Although he made a 90-degree turn, Benjamin Nolf recognizes that the skills acquired throughout his career give him interesting weapons for his new life: in his exchanges with banks or with support networks for creation business for example. Not counting the know-how in terms of business plan, calculation of margins, production of company accounts, etc…