Founding a company – no problem, it’s not difficult. But it takes more to make it a success: a good idea, perseverance and trustworthy partners. The idea is central. If it doesn’t inspire, doubt will gnaw at you forever as to whether the path is the right one – and that takes up too much energy.

But from the beginning: It was never a dream of mine to start my own company. I had a great job that involved a lot of responsibility, a great team, a great boss. Why give that up? Because something kept whispering in my ear: “Do your own thing, you have the stature to lead a company to success yourself.”

But then actually do it? It was clear to me that certain prerequisites were needed to ensure that a start-up didn’t end in fiasco. Personally, I’m too scared for that. And suddenly it was time. It clicked and I knew: This is it! A year and a half later – since the beginning of 2022 – I have been running a full-time company that offers virtual training courses in the garden sector. Something completely different than what I’ve been doing for the past 30 years – but hey, so what?! I would be happy to tell you what prerequisites are necessary for the realization of the dream.

An idea has to ignite. It has to inspire and suit you. It has to make you happy, because that’s what you will do with all your heart for the next few years. Train yourself to recognize opportunities and learn to assess whether an idea inspires and whether it can be implemented. This can be tried out even with small projects, for example in your current job: Are you correct in estimating the costs? Do you have a good instinct for where potential and obstacles lie?

Sylvia Knittel is the managing director and founder of campus botanicus. The start-up imparts virtual knowledge on the topics of gardening and botany and has been maintaining a garden-loving community from professionals to beginners since 2020. At the same time, she works as a nature and garden photographer and author. Prior to that, she worked in the communications industry for 30 years.

Despite all the enthusiasm, research must be: What is there in the market you want to enter? At the time, we immediately realized that our idea was unique. Our first steps gave exactly this important feedback.

Nevertheless, we have looked at a lot and dealt with the figures in the market. We also looked across borders, nurtured networks and spoke to others who we knew wouldn’t steal the idea from us.

The faster the better. “There is magic in every beginning” Novalis already knew. As a founder, you should not miss this magic. We were up and running after a month and tried out a lot at first until we knew how it could work for us. Do you have the courage to test. Nothing is perfect from the start.

And very important: Decide! Leave nothing behind! In the beginning something like “puppy protection” applies. The product has to be right at its core, but what’s around it is almost as important. We started our lectures by asking friends from the gardening scene to give a lecture. All free of charge, without a newsletter, without a booking tool, with a rudimentary website. But with contagious enthusiasm and a good network.

Initially, I continued to work in my previous job at the same time. That gave me the economic security and the time to assess the situation and see whether the business model is viable. But that’s only good for a while.

At some point the double burden became too much and I had to decide which way to go in the future. It was clear to me that I would no longer be able to do any of my tasks in the medium term, so it was time to say goodbye.

Because what you should not forget: If you go into full-time self-employment, the work will not be less. Starting halfway with burnout, with a half-charged battery isn’t enough. You need enough energy to keep up the high pace and to motivate yourself every day. Your own company demands a lot from you.

After 30 years as an employee, it was difficult for me to switch to being an entrepreneur – especially since I don’t have a business background. Just my experience as a leader.

There are subsidized advice options at reasonable prices, for example via the IHK if you intend to switch from part-time to full-time entrepreneurship. A management consultant accompanied us and I was able to talk to him about my position as managing director, social security, the dimensioning of the salary and, above all, about the business plan. This exchange was extremely important for me and gave us security as a team. The support with the financial part of the business plan helped us a lot at the start and is still helping us with the planning. I can only recommend brooding intensively over the financial part of the business plan.

A good tax consultant! A consultation is important for a targeted decision for a company form. In addition, the tax consultant safely navigates you through the jungle of paragraphs, which is good for your nerves.

Second important partners are people from a professional network who support you. It is good to have a network in the industry, but exchange with others is at least as important. Personally, this has helped me immensely.

The third important partners are co-founders. I’m lucky to have two co-founders that I can rely on. Take a good look at who you do business with and go with your gut. Clarify the conditions of cooperation early on.

As you can see, the path to your own dream as an entrepreneur is a healthy mixture of inspiration, boldly seizing opportunities, perseverance, lots of communication and trustworthy companions.

The Mission Female business network, founded by Frederike Probert, is actively committed to more female power in business, society, media, culture, sports and politics. It unites successful women across all industries with the aim of making further professional progress together.