Name: Nick Mitri
Business Name: Fireworks for Africa (South Africa) and Foti Fireworks QLD (Australia)
Business Description: Fireworks, Pyrotechnics and Special FX

1. How long have you been operating?
22 years (FFA) and 2 years (Foti)

2. How did you start your business?
I just decided one day that I wanted to do my own thing, be my own boss. Even though I was young and inexperienced, I had a feeling that I could do better than what was being done in the industry at the time. I had to borrow money from the bank to buy a laptop (as I had none) and went from there. When I bought the laptop, I actually didn’t even know how to switch it on…

3. How old were you when you started it?
23

4. What can you tell us to show the scale of your business?
Well in the year 2000, we worked on 45 events. We now work on over 450 annually.

5. What are the best and worst parts of your job?
I love my job. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. Through the work I do I have traveled to 48 countries and have met some pretty amazing (and famous) people. I don’t have a worst part of my job.

6. What was the hardest lesson you had to learn in business?
I have learned many lessons. Fortunately, I do learn by my mistakes and I have benefited because of it. I have learned that you can never take your eye of the ball. I have done this several times in my career and paid the price.

7. Did you ever want to quit and, if so, what did you do to overcome it?
I have never wanted to quit. It is too important to me. Make no mistake, it has been hard many, many times, like going to the ATM to draw R10 for bread and milk and being unable to do so, or like being in Sudan on a show looking down the barrel of an AK47. Those kinds of things are not fun, but if you want to succeed, you cannot think about giving up. If you want to succeed, you need to work harder and do more than your competitors.

8. What are/were you most grateful for while running your business?
The support from my gorgeous and courageous wife – she has been with me from the beginning. The brilliant and determined crew at FFA and also the support from the many, many amazing clients that have stuck with us over the years and opened the doors in the early days. I have been blessed to have been able to have worked with some truly amazing people over the years.

9. What has the potential to keep you up at night?
Not too much anymore as I have matured and learned to not sweat the small stuff. I have had many a sleepless night over the years as I am naturally an anxious person, so I used to fret about almost everything in the early days. Experience has taught me that things will always work out (well most of the time), so stressing about it doesn’t help.

10. Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs starting out?
Yes, two things:
1. Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance
2. Honesty is the best policy – always!