Successfully setting up a sideline: Entrepreneurs after work


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Text comes from: Das Feierabend-Startup: Risikolos gründen neben dem Job (2017} by Erik Renk, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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Very few founders are successful right from the start. It often involves a lot of work and great risk. That can be minimized if you are Company founds on a sideline alongside his main job.

Successfully setting up a sideline: Entrepreneurs after work

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Erik Renk is a serial entrepreneur.

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Starting a sideline is like driving a car

You can compare founding your after-work startup to driving a car. Do you remember the first driving lesson? Everything was new, and you probably first practiced using the car on the practice area or on the country road. A novice driver would definitely not drive a racing car to the Nürburgring. The risk of losing control of the car and causing an accident is too great.

You can compare the Nürburgring with full-time employment, which you plunge into without experience and with limited financial means. The practice area would then be part-time self-employment. Here you can expose your idea to the proof of concept without having to forego a regular income. Full incorporation does not have to be the goal. Several studies show that only a few people switch from part-time to full-time employment.

Dropouts as successful entrepreneurs

Many successful entrepreneurs either dropped out of their studies or did not complete any at all. Examples are Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Henry Ford, Mark Zuckerberg, and me. No educational qualification is necessary to be successful Company to found.

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“The question I ask myself almost every day is: 'Am I doing the most important thing I could do? If I don't feel like I'm working on the most important problem I can help with, then I won't be comfortable with the way I spend my time. " (Mark Zuckerberg)

“You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by falling down. " (Richard Branson)

Success as an entrepreneur: the result counts

It does not matter who you are or what else you have done: The focus is on the result your company has achieved and not on whether you have, for example, studied or not. The buyer of the products doesn't care where you are or what you can. It is important to him that the products work well and keep what they promise. This is the great opportunity, no matter who you are.

The second big benefit to choosing entrepreneurship is scalability. Let's assume you produce software or trade in products through an online shop. If you increase your sales from 100 products to 1.000 and the processes are running, no new input is necessary.

Realize yourself part-time!

This should be an invitation to realize yourself part-time. It should take away the fear of failure and impart the necessary basic knowledge on how to lead an after-work startup to success. I wish you a lot of personal development experience, financial success and, above all, the enjoyment of the freedom that building a second pillar will give you along the way.

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Sometimes the second pillar also turns into a large company. It is important to me to be able to take care of myself. This wish has shaped my whole life. In my childhood and youth my pocket money rarely lasted for a month, and I was constantly annoyed by my acute financial need. That's why I took my first job when I was 15: I picked weeds on an organic farm for 4 euros an hour. The work was extremely hard, but I was finally independent.

Independence as a driving motivation

Back then, in the blazing midday heat in the field, I made a decision: I vowed to improve myself with every further job. When I was 16 I had to repeat the 10th grade because I just couldn't come to terms with the school system on offer. My mother sent me to a private school, but emphasized that, unfortunately, she could not pay the costs.

That was the moment when I undertook to find around 150 euros every month on the first of the month. Fortunately, I was able to help out in the local health food store and thereby finance my school days. Unfortunately, as a student, I only had limited income opportunities. So I had to find a new solution.

Business start-up while still at school

At the age of 19 I started my own business while still at school with a sideline. In the period that followed, I managed to reduce my income through training costs such as seminars, mentoring programs and coaching so that I could keep to the income limit for the sideline. At the same time I was able to immensely improve my entrepreneurial knowledge. At that time, I decided on finance because I enjoyed it.

I had read countless books on topics such as real estate, insurance, precious metals, commodities, stocks and finance. I even devoured the fat tome The Secrets of Securities Analysis. Superior knowledge for your investment decision from Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd. Unfortunately, I was the only one who was convinced that, despite my young age, I could advise someone on financial matters. I still remember statements like »You are 19 years old? Nobody believes you! «. Ironically, these are the same people who assure me today that they knew straight away that I could do it.

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Getting to know the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur

My idea at the time has grown into a company that has now been in existence for ten years. Founded at the time as a sole proprietorship, I have long since converted it into a GmbH & Co. KG. Looking back, I can say that I started the greatest adventure of my life when I started my own business.

Since then I have got to know countless ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. I have successfully built up holdings in other companies and sold them at a profit, but I also blew up companies. Since 2014 I have been passing on my knowledge to founders who want to set up an after-work startup, and I actively support them. The deeper I dealt with the matter, the more it became clear to me that many founders are tainted with old beliefs. Likewise, many try to use standard knowledge from the university for start-up practice.

Basic obstacles for after-work start-ups

Two obstacles emerge that can prevent the success of an after-work start-up: Either the high risks that weigh on the psyche as a founder lead to inflexibility, or the business idea is immature. In my opinion, both obstacles can be solved by being self-employed.

  1. Point one is that your own livelihood is never endangered by the main job. This alone allows you to reach your goal more relaxed.
  2. The second point is that even an immature business model won't bring you down. An after-work startup doesn't have to work the first time. In contrast, the lack of short-term success is problematic for highly developed startups. The loans cannot be serviced, investors write off their stake, and the founders cannot make any private withdrawals. These and other costs can quickly bring down a startup.

The effort is not free

However, if the idea doesn't work, it can be put aside. With this strategy you have to invest a maximum of a few months. This effort is not free, as you are guaranteed to have learned a lot even in the worst case scenario. This practical know-how does not exist in a university or a college.

But what is the best thing about this school of life? You can create the timetable including all of the content yourself and are therefore completely flexible. And that's exactly what is important for successful entrepreneurs.

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Do you need a business plan?

One more word about the business plan: when I was asked to write a business plan, I fell into a huge trap. I downloaded a template from the IHK and filled it out. But a business plan is always something very individual and should not be made according to scheme F.

But it is often the first piece of advice you get as a founder of an after-work startup: creating a business plan. However, this is primarily not important for the founders, but for others. For example, banks and investors ask about this document in order to be able to assess whether it is worth investing or financing your company.

Large investment companies, on the other hand, usually only require a so-called pitch deck. This means the presentation of the most important key points on some slides. Whether you should really take advantage of bank financing is questionable at the beginning for small businesses anyway.


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