10 Lessons Learnt from starting a Business in Switzerland

Even though I started to prepare the steps needed for launching my business back in 2010 it still took me about two years until I dared to jump ship and leave my well-paid manager job at a large professional services firm and a long-term career in International Human Resources. Quite frankly, my ego was boosted by my work and starting a company you need to have a lot of self-confidence because you might lose everything: Money, status, your partner, sleep and a lot of your beliefs.

What no one tells you when you start out is how long it actually takes to be sustainable. I heard rumors but I did not believe everything. Also, I might have approached my business development from the wrong angle. I am not the cold-calling type and I am not the email marketer. When I look at writers or marketers from the US I see how they offer their services and I know now that I still have a lot to learn.

What I would like to tell you is that you will eventually get rewarded and you will eventually have a better life altogether but you need to be persistent, patient and pragmatic.

What I wish someone had told me in 2012:

1) Prioritize your clients. Use 70% of your time for delivering an outstanding product or excellent service to your clients. 20% of your time you should network with current and future clients, 10% you need to do accounting, marketing and other business development work.

2) Build and maintain your network. In the beginning work with your personal contacts before you start traditional business development.

3) Analyze your niche. Understand your competitors, their products or services and price structures. Define your ideal costumer. Focus on where you stand out.

4) Market, market and market. Spend time and money for Marketing, especially in a professional website. If you have zero money but time start with Social Media. Facebook still creates attention. Know where your ideal clients hang out. It might be LinkedIn, Pinterest or Twitter. Go there.

5) Get the basics right. I know too many business owners who have never made a business plan. If you do not know the meaning of cash flow and break even your work is a hobby not a business. Cash flow is a constant challenge in the first two years so learn to manage your invoices and hire an accountant. >> Work with your business plan.

Angela Weinberger

 

6) Limit your financial risk. Start with a limited financial risk by opening a limited liability company. If you want to sell handmade socks you might not need to do that but in general it is better to protect your personal assets. Most business advisors will tell you that you need to be able to survive the first year without income. Check as of when you need to do a proper annual statement.

7) Learn everything about running a business. Work in all areas of a business from Accounting to Social Media Marketing. Then when you have done it once you can outsource the areas you have no passion or patience for. Study all the time. Challenge yourself by asking yourself questions outside of your comfort zone.

8) Find your strategic “friends” in the market and build partnerships. Build strategic friendships with business owners you like and who support and motivate you. Find likeminded peers and use each other as a support group.

9) Plan what you give in exchange for “favors”. Offer time exchange and internships if you cannot afford to hire someone. Respect other people’s time commitment and aim for balance between giving and taking. Give more and go the extra mile.

10) Enjoy your profession and build your life around your business. Get a cleaning person and other support for your household, childcare, shopping because this will give you more freedom to focus on your profession. I try to shop online only (but I regularly buy my groceries in the neighborhood). I had to minimize expenses but I love to buy gadgets that are tools for my work.

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