“Freedom of action, independence of spirit”: these are the joys of Éric Jemin, the boss (here with one of his employees). But running an SME also means “having to be at the top of your game at all times”. | Franck Dubray

Éric Jemin, 46 years old, married and father of three, created a design office in Avrillé in Maine-et-Loire in 2003 with a partner. Today, the company has nineteen employees and is in good health. The company is in good health, and he says, “First of all, it’s a lot of investment in terms of time. For the company itself (8am-7.30pm every day), but also for the networks, four evenings a week. Networking is very, very important.

To get to know people and to be known. The other constraint, “is the stress. The other constraint is “stress. You are not in the company 24 hours a day, but in your head you are! And the family, that’s what they tell you! The brain is on the alert. Even at night, when you wake up at 2 a.m. and wonder how you’re going to solve a problem. Eric Jemin has never been confronted with a redundancy situation. Nevertheless, he feels that the “suffering” of the SME manager is something he has to deal with: “It’s having to be at the top all the time. As a boss, you carry the others, you carry the whole company and everything in it.

Still, yes, there is an exhilaration in being a company manager, in taking on this “responsibility”: “Yes, it is fulfilling. I feel responsible for my eighteen employees, but also for the eighteen families there are.
eighteen families behind them. You never lose sight of that”, but for him, being a company director “is first and foremost about pleasure”. The essential pleasure of freedom: “Freedom of action, independence of mind”. And that of “not having the constraints of a command. Being free to do what you want.