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Alain Milliat: interview of a successful entrepreneur

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Today we inaugurate a new article format. We wanted to give a voice to people that we hear too little in our opinion: successful entrepreneurs who have managed to master the difficulties of entrepreneurship and have grown their businesses. Besides interviewing experienced entrepreneurs we will also report on individual would-be entrepreneurs who have just started their business. Our guess is that comparing the two viewpoint will prove interesting.

We begin our series with a successful and renown entrepreneur: Alain Milliat. He’s the boss of the brand which bears his name and sells some 2,5 millions bottles of ultra premium fruit juices per year.

IntoTheMinds: Is it your first and only business or are you a serial entrepreneur ?

Alain Milliat: My first business was the takeover of the family farm and the creation of an orchard. The current company is actually my first and only one.

ITM: How long have you been an entrepreneur?

AM: Since I was 18. I had been an employee for only one month in my life (I was penniless at that time and had to work). As a bailiff’s clerk I handed over eviction notices for unpaid invoices or unsafe housing to residents of neighborhoods of Lyon. It was a very rewarding experience.

ITM: How did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?

AM: Maybe I lived more with seasons. I’m saying it with nostalgia when looking back over my shoulder. My work still remains synchronized with seasons but targets and deadlines set to reach those targets are nowadays giving the real rhythm. I was working alone, at least within a limited group of people. Now exchange and collective reflection are part of my daily life. Confronting points of view is an incredible source of motivation for me: questioning personal perspectives, developing delegation skills, gaining trust in others and so on.

ITM: What were your top three motivations for starting your business?

AM: The desire to experience something different than what we were designed for and the desire to take some risk. Finally the desire to gain some freedom too.

ITM: Describe briefly the three biggest challenges you faced during the life of your company ?

AM: Lack of cash when it came to finance development; Find that the expected competences of an employee were actually not there; Be alone to manage multiple disciplines at the same time.

ITM: Does the loneliness of the entrepreneur really exist ?

AM: Yes! And you are confronted daily with it. And even though I said before that working with other persons is a source of personal fulfillment, loneliness is necessary for the decision-making process. Each decision taken at every single moment seems to me to be vital for the future of the company. I try to always have the “butterfly effect” in mind.


ITM: What was your biggest stroke of luck since the launch of your company ?

AM: Having met systematically constructive people at the right moments !

ITM: What can we wish you for 2014 (and also for after of course) ?

AM: to keep meeting constructive people!




ITM : Which is the essential advice you’d like to share with a would-be entrepreneur?


AM: Do not think about making money for yourself, but keep in mind that this is the company who should win! Rigor, sincerity and boldness are still paying .



Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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