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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Jacqueline Dubernet

2nd chance entrepreneurs in action


Jacqueline Dubernet

French restarter

3 J Event'S

FR - 92240 Malakoff

The first business

Jacqueline Dubernet set up her first business in 1998. She developed a concept for trade fairs called "Art of Living", offering products for the restaurant and catering business, for the art of setting the table, wines, spirits and cigars. She herself organised these fairs, which were a great success.

The postman brings bad news

Having successfully managed trade fairs in several cities, Jacqueline Dubernet set out to prepare a particularly large and glamorous event, with cigars as a central focus. Preliminary work was already well under way - promotional materials, support staff, premises all booked and scheduled. The only thing missing was the permit to sell tobacco products. Then came the bad news: the permit had been refused.

At first she believed it was a mistake - after all, there had never been any problem before. What had gone wrong? In search of an attractive title, she had chosen the lifestyle of a well-known cigar-smoking poetess to serve as the motto of the event. Now this creative idea was her undoing. The title led the local authorities to classify the fair as a cultural event, which precludes the sale of tobacco products under French law.

Cancellation brings financial breakdown

Two weeks before the event, Jacqueline had to give up. Without the permit to sell tobacco products, the entire event concept collapsed and she had to cancel at short notice, with enormous financial losses. Exhibitors had to be refunded and she had to pay the launching costs. Worse still, the last-minute cancellation had lost Jacqueline all credibility her business environment, leaving her unable to realise new projects to pay back her sizable debts.

Insolvency: a hard blow

Despite seven years of successful development, Jacqueline was faced with insolvency and her company was liquidated. As a sole trader, she was fully liable for the debts and lost everything. She shudders when she recalls losing her possessions and having to cope with the feelings of failure, shame and frustration. "Bankruptcy was a dire blow and a stroke of fate", she recalls. "After all, it is like euthanasing your own baby. Economic downfall entails a complete breakdown that even affects your confidence in your own abilities and your trust in people."

Three sources of support

Three things helped Jacqueline get back into business. Firstly, she kept her fighting spirit. Secondly, she got professional support. The advice she received helped her analyse the root cause of her business disaster so she could distance herself emotionally from what had happened and let go of her sense of personal failure. The third crucial factor was the support she got from her friends. Because she had lost all her credit standing, they took over the business stakes for the initial period and put up the funds she needed to start again.

Now, Jacqueline is back organising events - fairs presenting regional products, oldtimer rallies and classical concerts. Her long professional experience has paid off. In the meantime, she has gradually enlarged her initial minority holding in "3 J Event'S" and currently holds a 99% stake.

Lessons learnt: never forget the worst case scenario

"My second company has turned into a real passion", Jacqueline sums up, "yet now I think twice before making a decision". Today she is more cautious with fixed costs; she carefully reads every contract through twice and doesn't skimp on the risk analyses. She also understands that legal aspects must be taken very seriously - especially in the case of sensitive products like alcohol and tobacco - and that it's worth seeking detailed advice from legal experts.

Jacqueline Dubernet's main advice to entrepreneurs facing financial difficulties

"By all means get comfort and emotional support from your family and friends, but do get expert advice, too! This will allow you to objectively analyse the true causes of your difficulties and identify what you need to do next. I want all of you to take courage, for my personal experience has taught me that while nothing in life is achieved forever, nothing is lost altogether, either."

First try

Company founded in: 1998

Business sector: event organisation

Core business: organising trade fairs

Maximum number of employees: 4

Insolvency: 2005

Fresh start

New start: 2005

Company: 3 J Event'S

Business sector: event organisation

Core business: organising cultural events

Number of employees 2006: 2


Alfred Lanfer

Hervé Lecesne

Manuela Mutschler

Cristian Rovira

Friedrich Stummer

Jacqueline Dubernet

Josef Zotter

Michele Zanor

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