Your WHY of the Start-up is Key!
When you start a company, you need to know the answer to your WHY
The following is an excerpt from my preface of a book (in progress) about starting a company in Switzerland:
Starting a company in Switzerland: 8 suggestions and a Question
Congratulations for looking into becoming an entrepreneur in Switzerland! Switzerland is one of the best countries for the start-up scene, and depending on your business idea and your experience, this might just be the place for you to begin your dream of having your won company. I have some suggestions that are general about beginning a start-up below.
- Begin only if you are passionate about your idea
You have to be more passionate about your idea than about earning money with it, otherwise you will not last the first few years of little or no growth. A client of mine is waiting for his website to go on-line so he can start and it’s already been several months of waiting for him since he had his first idea. But he is passionate about his idea(s) and he will go the distance if he continues in the way he ha begun.
- Check your idea for viability, for feasibility, for financial growth and tweak accordingly
Market research, is what I am talking about. Is there a market for this idea/product? Will it generate enough income at a price that is reasonable for the target niche? Is the niche big enough to support your product idea in the long term, or is this a fad, which you will have to tweak or even give up in a year or two. Remember it may take up to two years to generate “real” money. Also, is your target just Switzerland, or is that just a launching pad for going international?
Finally, do you plan to do this full-time? If so, how will you live until you start earning money. In other words, what is your budget and financial plan?
- Let others help you, and take their advice very seriously; but leave naysayers out of the picture, at least until you have earned your first million-
You will have lots of people trying to tell you what to do and eventually some will give you wise advice. Ask for advice, but from those who are doing something like this- either on a small, or on a big scale. Ask for mentors from people who, as Brené Brown says, are “in that arena” too.
Also, if you have little experience in the business world, there are very reasonable courses offered by the government, if you speak the language (mostly in German.
- Get a business (start-up) coach
In most cases, you will need an independent, non-involved party that will ask you good questions (and that is what coaches do, ask questions so you can reflect on your choices and decisions). Trust me on this. You will need someone like this. It doesn’t have to be me, and my time is limited, but a good start-up coach is worth your money.
- Build in time for recreation every day and every week and every quarter, because burnout is easy to catch-
Burnout may even be the reason for you starting your own enterprise. The temptation is to focus so much on your idea that you don’t think about yourself, your key relationships and then you start to suffer. Build in time for self-care, for a healthy physical and relational life and your start-up will last past the beginning stages. Switzerland is THE place for outdoor recreation activities of all kinds. It is lovely for hiking, for biking, for snowshoeing, for Nordic and Alpine skiing, for swimming, and the list goes on and on. Take advantage of these opportunities. It will be god for you, body and soul.
- Don’t give up; in fact, have a plan for if you feel like giving up-
Ask yourself, when things get tough, what am I going to do. Ask, when I am running out of money to grow, what will I do. Ask when I am tired and don’t feel like I can go on, what am I going to do. Get yourself a few cheerleaders to keep you going. I can remember some key turning points in my life where I wanted to quit, but a few cheerleaders kept me going and I will be forever thankful to them for that.
Remember to remember.
And then, alwaysremember those first days and your passion. Remember the joy of starting and of that first sale. Remember the advice you have received from good mentors. Then take a (very short) break, tweak, and carry one! Don’t give up!
- When it is time, on-board a team, first an outsourced one, and when ready, a salaried team
It could be that your idea is a solo-preneur idea and then this does not apply to you, but still you are going to need people to call on for support and help, people you can also recommend to others when they need help: a web-person, an accountant (or at least software), possibly a lawyer, and people who do things that help your business in many ways and are not in direct competition with you. For example, a client who is an interior designer, may want someone specializing in furniture building or interior sewing to be on the team.
Eventually, if your company is meant to have employees, you will need to pick them well. Depending on if you have a partner (in Switzerland, it seems like the magic number is four partners) or not depends on the company structure. For example, it could be a pair, one partner is the CEO and the other the CFO. I have seen this particular situation relatively often. If you are alone, one of the first people to on-board should be a CFO-type person if you are not money-oriented. Money is not everything, but for any business it is very important to watch all the numbers. Then there are the marketing and sales types who need to be added, the technology types (both for running and for growth-development, depending on the kind of idea you have), logistics/operations, and the business strategists. In the beginning, your people may wear quite a few hats, but as your company grows, each person will, hopefully have fewer and be able to focus on their strengths.
Also, allow your team to help you grow your company
Leadership is key and so is delegation and respect. You need to create a culture of positive growth and listening to main team’s ideas and suggestions. Remember, if you want to grow you will need help. Let your team do that for you! Also, be their cheerleader – they will need one, too.
- Dream big. Think about the future of your company and your life-
Once you are on your way, you should continue to dream. What are your three, five, ten-year plans? What is next? And after that? This might be where a coach comes in, again, to help you broaden your horizons. Finally, here are a few more questions for you to chew on:
Is your idea reproducible? Franchise-able? What does the long term look like? How are you going to scale? When might it become too large? How will you know when you want to change?
And: Do you plan to sell your company? If so, when?
Now, the BIG QUESTION:
Should you start a business, and should you start in Switzerland?
So you are thinking of starting a business in Switzerland, and since you are reading this, I am assuming you are an expatriate or immigrant. The Swiss have their own ways of getting information in German (mostly) and the other languages. I will be focusing on the “foreigner” start-up, so much of the content of this book goes in that direction. However, there are some parts that can apply to all start-ups, even those outside of Switzerland.
And it starts here: the question why is very key. Why do you want to start your own company and why do you want to start it in Switzerland? Perhaps you know this is a very start-up friendly country. Perhaps you know that the standard of living is one of the best in the world. Perhaps you like the climate and the Swiss Alps. Perhaps you have a partner or spouse working here. The reasons could be very numerous and very personal. But Switzerland is a very good place to start a business.
In August 2016, a total of 2,781 new companies were entered in the commercial register. This represents a growth of 6.8% compared to August the year before.
Enjoy your week!
Patricia Jehle www.jehle-coaching.com