Start-up as a learning process
After my first two years of being an employee, I became self-employed. That's how I came to be Mashup Communications, a PR agency for 24 years old Company from the online and mobile industry. I was full of energy, but at the same time I had not eaten the wisdom with spoons at this age.
After four years, Mashup Communications is on a stable footing with a ten-man team. The way there was a lot of learning by doing, of which I would do a lot the same thing at the next foundation and different things. A small bunch of things that I will avoid in the future and pass on to other potential founders:
1. In the legal form of beginning great and think of the future
Even though it was my goal from the outset to build a company with several employees, I started as a freelancer, that is to say a sole proprietorship, which seems obvious in a service occupation.
With increasing size and complexity, the founding of a GmbH was founded. Especially if, as in our case, the entry of another business partner is included, the change of a legal form in the worst case can turn out to be a time, nerve and money-eating step. In the case of the legal form, therefore, one should consider from the outset its long-term vision and make the appropriate choice directly.
2. Service providers as long-term partners directly to the start
The exciting thing about having your own first company is that the horizon of knowledge expands exponentially, incomparably with anything I've learned through study or job. So I intentionally invested a lot of voluntary apprenticeship in order to benefit from gaining new knowledge about website design, taxes, contracts, finance, acquisition, pricing etc. directly in the field.
Even if I still profit today, I could have avoided some problems with this Do-It-Yourself approach, I would have left from the outset certain areas to experts.
When choosing suitable service providers, care should also be taken to benefit from a long-term partnership. Although we as PR service providers often find ourselves asking ourselves how many questions we need to ask ourselves about potential new customers, we ourselves have often pragmatically followed the first recommendation for our own service providers. Today I know that with more research efforts we could have avoided some disappointments.
3. Always stay fluent
Mashup Communications was luckily profitable after a short time. So much for the theory. There was a time when several unfortunate situations came at once. Outstanding incoming invoices, unforeseeable major expenses and the fact that we were unable to access part of our money for a short period of time due to the delay in the establishment of the limited company led to a very limited payment capacity.
An extremely critical moment, despite the certainty that money will soon be available again. Luckily our bank was very helpful and flexible and solved the problem after a month. Nonetheless, we have since stabilized our liquidity with overdrafts and credit cards, so that larger or smaller investments and expenses can now be made without stomachaches, even though customers should be free to pay their bills.
4. Separate friendship and business
With my current business partner, Nora Feist, I have the perfect balance between friendship and business: a former colleague whose strengths I knew and trusted, but at the time of their entry they were rather a good friend. Our friendship is above all due to our cooperation.
It is different when you bring close friends as employees on the boat, which I have made mostly bad experiences. So extreme in a case that it ended up fatal to both the company and the friendship. On the other hand, even at the beginning, through intense collaboration and our unique team cohesion, I was often misled to cross the line between friends and colleagues.
Even though, thankfully, we all understand each other in the best way, executives should build a healthy barrier, especially with regard to their personal or private crises, so that professional decisions can be made without prejudice and accepted.
5. Never rest on the laurels
After two years of intensive work in the start-up phase, I came to the point where I wanted to allow myself to be due to the success of the company. So followed a very exciting year with lots of trips. Despite the fact that the company's condition had not deteriorated during this time, I would say that we missed some growth potentials.
It is certainly not easy for most founders to find a healthy work-life balance. Changing from one extreme to another is certainly not the right way. Even though this time of absence helped me to gain new motivation, energy and ideas, it is all the more important for me today and for my company to remain vigilant, up-and-coming and innovative.
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