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From Big Business Consultant to Small Business Champion

stories Nov 17, 2021

I want to talk to you about why On Your Own Terms exists. But before I do, I want to let you know that I have a brand new podcast! So if you're a listener rather than a reader, check out the Small Business Success Without Legal Stress Podcast (on whatever platform you usually get your podcasts). This blog post (and many others) will also be available as a podcast!


Just because you have a small business just because you're an entrepreneur, just because you don't have unlimited resources, like a massive company, doesn't mean you should have legal stress. I want to help.


So you're probably wondering, who am I and why should you listen to me?


Fair enough. My name is Ama Zbarcea, and I'm the founder of On Your Own Terms. I've worked in the corporate legal world for nearly 10 years now. I started off as an employee and then went self employed. And I've been doing consulting work for large multinational companies now for about six years or so. I've worked on projects across 6 of the 7 continents (sorry, I don't know anything about Antarctica's laws).


In terms of education, I have an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the US, and I moved to the UK before I earned my law degrees here. I have a graduate and a postgraduate diploma in law from BPP University London.


I'm also certified as an advanced practitioner of commercial and contract management from the world commerce and contracting organisation. That's the standards organisation that sets the best practices in the world for how companies large and small handle their commerce and their contracting practices. I also serve on their Global Advisory Board representing Western Europe, so we can work to better practices and representing all companies of all sizes in the way that everyone does business.


Before you make any judgments based on my credentials, I’d like to be honest with you that I've learned most of what I've learned from experience, not from law school, or being on some lofty board position. So check out some more blog posts, follow me on Instagram, download my free guides and cheat sheets…and THEN decide whether you think I know what I'm talking about. And if you feel it's not a good fit for you - that's ok! (I'd love it if you would email me and tell me why too).


Okay, I promise I'm done boring you and talking about myself now.


My Why: The Story Behind On Your Own Terms


I want to tell you a story about something that happened to me. I think it was about four years ago now. I had been in business for myself for maybe one or two years at that stage, working with some large companies and doing pretty well for myself. My dad had also run his own company for six or seven years at that point. So he had a little bit more experience than me in more ways than one.


We're really close, my dad and I, so we talk all the time to share our wins and our woes. We talked about business and how we coped with various situations. But at that stage, he had a client who refused to pay, and he complained about it (a lot). For months, he had been trying everything he couldn't get them to pay, he tried the nice approach the not so nice approach. Everything. And he was at the end of his rope and just didn't know what to do.


So I said, you know what? I want to help. Let me help. Let me call this client on your behalf, and get him to pay. After all, this is what I've been doing for years. This is my area of expertise. I negotiate large, very high value contracts. I've been in this world for a long time. I know what I'm doing, this is what I'm good at.


And I felt really confident up to that point. I knew I could do it. I was really comfortable. And then about five minutes before I was supposed to call this man from this client company, I started to panic. The anxiety was insane. And I'd never actually felt it before. Maybe in my early days when I was an intern, but since then, I never had that issue before.


I realised the anxiety existed because this really, really matters. There's a business on the line. There's my dad's business on the line! So I got on that call, and as soon as the call started, I fell back on my experience - on everything I knew. It went as smoothly as it could, really.


In the end, I got this client to pay 75% of the last invoice, which was a lot better than we expected, actually, and it worked out really well.


But it was so hard. That's why I've been thinking for years since that moment about how hard it must be for other entrepreneurs who don't have that experience to fall back on, who don't have any sort of legal expertise. They are starting with this passion or this knowledge in a completely separate field, but they don't have the foundations that they need to run a business with legal certainty.


And that's stressful. It's super stressful. It shouldn't have to be! Just because we're entrepreneurs, just because we're small, doesn't mean that we shouldn't have access to legal support.


So, it's taken me a few years to get to this stage - to found a business called On Your Own Terms that focuses on entrepreneurs and helping them with the legal matters that are a little bit boring and a whole lot stressful that come with starting and running your own business.


How I Work


So what I really want you to know about me most of all is, I'm a business person. I'm a business person who happens to have expertise in law. And I'm an entrepreneur, just like you.


I'm not going to sit here on my high horse and tell you about what the legislation says and what you should be doing and tell you, "It's your decision. I'm not going to make it for you". Of course, it is your decision, and I'm not going to make it for you. But that's not the point. The point is, I want you to have the facts, the clarity, the understanding of what legal means in business terms, and make practical decisions.


I'm never going to tell you to break the law. I'm not telling you to take shortcuts, either, but I am telling you to be a practical business person, understand your options, weigh the pros and cons, and make the best decision for your business right now.


So that's what you're going to get from me and from On Your Own Terms. I'm going to teach you how to have great success in your small business. Without all the legal stress. I will share tips and tricks, along with stories from my experience in corporate legal departments and working with big clients. I'll tell you about some of the smaller businesses I've worked with and things that happened to me in my own business.  I'll bring in colleagues and guest bloggers to talk about how they work and various quirks around the world.


Because let's be honest, when we do business online, we do business globally. And we have to be aware of the cultures, the practices, and the legalities of various places around the world where our customers and our audiences are based.


I'd Like To Hear From You!


If you're reading this, and there are things on your mind that you want to learn about or that you're hoping I'm going to have guests or interviews about, please, please, please reach out and let me know. I have tonnes of ideas of things I want to share with you. But that doesn't mean it's exactly what you want to hear at the right time. And I want to make sure that I'm telling you the things that are most interesting to you and will most help you grow your business. So you can find us on Yes, it's dot net (not dot com).


So if you go to the website, you'll find all of our social channels. You can follow us on Instagram (@on_your_own_terms_), and on Facebook (@doitonyourownterms). I also have a private Facebook group called Small Business Success Without Legal Stress where I share tips weekly as well. Feel free to send me an email ([email protected]) or contact me on Instagram or wherever you happen to hang out online. Just let me know that you want the link to the group, and I'll get you in.


Let me know what you want to hear about on this podcast who you want me to talk to how I can help you. That's what I'm here for. I want to help as many small businesses as possible.


And if you're a listener rather than a reader, check out my Small Business Success Without Legal Stress Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts!


As always, I wish you all the best in business.

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