Previous Professional Experience and Contacts

Consider which qualifications, professional experience or at least talents you can contribute to the foundation of your company. That does not have to be a learned profession, but at least something that can be offered as a service and also attracts customers.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What industry and specialist skills will be necessary for my future work?
  • Which ones do I already have?
  • Which ones do I still have to acquire?
  • Am I sufficiently trained in business administration?
  • Can I “buy” know-how?

Specialist requirements: Entrepreneurial skills and social competence

Entrepreneurial skills

As a founder, you will always be required to have basic commercial and business knowledge—the fundamental prerequisites for any successful entrepreneurial activity. Many founders have their biggest deficits here. Those who have sound decision-making skills and a commercial background can risk more than someone who is forced to found a company, e.g. for lack of a job alternative. In addition, know-how in the areas of internal organisation, purchasing, sales, personnel management (social competence) and system thinking (i.e. the ability to solve complex problems) will help you. Most of these skills can be learned. If you have deficits here, further your training (e.g. through courses offered by chambers of industry and commerce).

Continuing professional development

The economy is constantly on the move—you need to be, too. As an entrepreneur you should always be up to date. Continuing professional development is therefore mandatory. You can acquire a lot of knowledge by studying the relevant specialist literature.

Another possibility is to attend seminars and training courses. Liquidity planning, public speaking, marketing, tax law: You can deepen each topic specifically. A nationwide directory of providers of such training is available online (https://www.iwwb.de/weiterbildung.html?seite=1). You can also visit trade fairs and exhibitions. Here you will not only learn about the latest trends and developments in your industry; you will also be able to make valuable contacts.

Social competence

Especially when dealing with customers, one characteristic is of great importance: social competence. This is the ability to self-reflect, communicate, empathise, cooperate, and handle conflicts. Be interested in the needs of your customers, take care of their concerns, and be reachable. If you employ staff, you should also treat them with a great deal of sensitivity.

Specialist requirements: Industry experience and partnerships

Industry experience

If you start your own business in your trained profession, this is understandably a different situation than if you change your field. An industry-related vocational education with corresponding experience is the best prerequisite for setting up a business. Anyone setting up a business directly after completing an apprenticeship or a degree should have gained practical work experience through internships, student jobs and project work before or during their apprenticeship or time at university. It is also an advantage to have not only worked for one employer, but to have got to know as many companies as possible.

Network

Check whether you have a network or the personality to quickly build one. After all, contacts are everything. A successful entrepreneur should always keep his eyes and ears open. A former employer, potential customers, competitors: Any source of information can be helpful. Former employers could be mentors and partners for future projects. The basic rule is: Fair play. You take advice from your former boss, but you do not take their customers. The exchange with potential customers is also important. From them you can learn useful things about the needs, annoyances and other important information. This helps entrepreneurs to align their business model precisely with customers’ needs. From future suppliers, outgoing entrepreneurs learn something about conditions and procurement possibilities, perhaps also something valuable about the competition, even before setting up a business. Successful entrepreneurs conduct such conversations subtly in order to get more information. Phone, email, small talk: Be aware that as an entrepreneur you must not be afraid of people.

Tip: Useful helpers can also be found amongst your friends. Consider whether you know a tax consultant, lawyer or management consultant. Such contacts make it possible to get advice quickly and cheaply on the fly.

Partnerships

As an entrepreneur, you should be well-informed. However, you cannot and do not have to know everything—nor do you have to manage everything yourself. Share competencies and responsibilities. But choose a partner who suits you. Trust, the unconditional willingness to work together and the same “wavelength” are basic prerequisites for a successful partnership. The shared desire for professional independence alone is not enough. Your ideas must match even in the medium and long term. This applies above all to strategically important investment decisions and the handling of crises and problems. Test your own strengths and make sure that you have a strong partner at your side in an emergency.

Sample text: Previous professional experience and contacts
Britta Müller is a trained banking professional and worked as a financial advisor for two years after completing her training. She studied business administration at the University of Musterstadt, where she majored in finance and e-business. During a five-month internship in the personnel department of a large aircraft manufacturer, she also got to know the area of personnel work. Due to her qualifications, Britta Müller will mainly be responsible for finance, accounting, and personnel.
Martin Mayer graduated from the Musterstadt Communications Academy as a communications specialist. After finishing university, he worked as a consultant for an advertising agency in Musterstadt. Martin Mayer then studied business administration at the University of Musterstadt with a focus on marketing and e-business. Martin Mayer is therefore very well suited for marketing and sales. Both founders have chosen to focus on e-business. Since they would like to primarily focus on the medium internet, the learned skills particularly benefit them here.