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North entrepreneur Cristian Voinea started out selling fruit and veg in Romania

Now, he helps others 'make the leap' as a business and life coach.

Cristian Voinea, entrepreneur, property investor and mentor.
Cristian Voinea, entrepreneur, property investor and mentor. Image: DCT Media

Every Monday we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Cristian Voinea, who runs life and business coaching venture Lead2Leap from North Kessock, near Inverness.

How and why did you start in business?

Born in Romania, a country offering few opportunities to ambitious young people like me growing up, I had to be resourceful and entrepreneurial, and create my own.

At 16 I sold fruit and veg in my hometown’s market, going on to start my first official business when I was 24.This was an IT business that a business partner and I founded when we were both hospitalised. Starting with two mobiles and 50 euros, we sold it to a client two years later for a six-figure sum.

My passion has always been to help others and provide excellent customer service and care, enhanced by working for around 20 years in hospitality in Romania, Spain, Cyprus and elsewhere.

Seeing the bigger picture

I’ve always had the ability to see the bigger picture and identify solutions to problems five steps ahead.

While a great gift, it can lead to friction in large organisations, so I prefer to do my own thing and be self-employed. And my first self-employed role in the UK was and still is as an interpreter for the sheriff courts, police and NHS.

I started Lead2Leap some three years ago to help people think beyond the immediate essentials of life, freeing up their minds to allow them to think outside the box and be creative. I also seek to help young people understand how life works and what really matters, something not taught in schools.

How did you get to where you are today?

Through drive, determination and a willingness to improve, the aim being to be more and help more. Working first in hospitality and then property has given me skills and knowledge I’ve applied to all my business ventures.

Becoming a mentor and consultant for business leaders and individuals through Lead2Leap is the culmination of 30 years of learning. We are now working with people across the world in countries like the UK, US, Mexico, Spain and Romania, and there’s nothing better than loving what you do.

Who helped you?

Studying continuously since I arrived in the UK 17 years ago has helped me develop.

UHI Inverness’ excellent business management, psychology and social sciences courses, strengthened my knowledge and skills.

But I’m a product of my early years in Romania, and I have to thank my mum, Ana, and daughter, Sophia, who are my two biggest supporters and fans, as well as wider family.

And then there’s the late Bob Proctor, and Richard Dolan and Grant Cardone, mentors who have opened worlds I never thought I’d see.

I joined the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to connect with more entrepreneurs and business owners. I’ve also taken advantage of the FSB’s excellent legal hub, and compliance and training resources.

Cristian Voinea.
Image: Cristian Voinea

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

Never give up and always look for the positive in everything that happens.

What is your biggest mistake?

Not believing in myself sooner.

What is your greatest achievement?

Personally, my daughter. Professionally, it is still work in progress so watch this space.

How is your business managing rapidly rising costs and what should government do to help?

We are mainly an online service but as economical with our resources as possible, saving on energy and supplies and making the best possible use of our time. And we care about the wellbeing of our staff and customers.

Government should focus more on the impact of home working on people’s mental health. We are social beings and while working from home has its benefits, it also comes with significant costs.

What do you still hope to achieve?

To continue helping as many people as possible to “take the lead and make the leap” in their lives through positive thinking and leadership.

What do you do to relax?

Meditate, take cold showers and read books. I also love going out with my daughter and having fun, and spending money helping my family and friends.

Cristian Voinea
Image: Cristian Voinea

What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?

Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, and Psycho-Cybernetics, by Dr Maxwell Maltz are books to be studied and enjoyed.

What do you waste your money on?

I don’t.

What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Thank the universe for another day and be grateful for what I have, followed by meditation and a cold shower – perfect.

What do you drive and dream of driving?

I drive an Audi A4 and dream of a red Ferrari Testarossa.