In 2009 Bjoern W. Schaefer founded his first company from scratch, Lokalgold. After a merger he left in 2011 and became an interim founder of Roomsurfer. Right now, he has started his next project – Venture Idea – which combines “startup spirit with company power”. Here he explains why the rules of starting a business are a lot like the rules for dating… Should you dive in and follow your heart?
Running a startup has a lot in common with starting relationships – no matter how long each are going to last in the long-run. This might sound surprising, but if we have a deeper look at what motivates us in both business and romance, I think that the two are closer than you might think…
Follow your instincts
One of the major reasons I started my first company was to stop compromising. I knew pretty much what I did not want to do any more. So I started looking for what would be the best fit for me. Meeting someone new is the same. You know pretty soon if it just feels like the right thing – follow that instinct.
…but don’t push too hard
I’m sure everyone has been in this situation. Something or someone got your attention at first sight (see above). But you’d be wise not to show it straight away. Raising money, pitching your product or closing big partnerships – it’s always the same game. Take a deep breath, be patient and embrace the challenge. Don’t come off as too desperate.
The funky male peacock
From a classic male/female perspective, the male peacock does pretty much everything you can imagine wrong. He looks absurd, he can’t run fast, he can’t fight. But – and here comes the but – he distinguishes himself impeccably from all the other men and is positioned perfectly in his tiny little niche. Don’t be afraid to display your attributes to full effect, fan out your tail!
Be picky, aim high
Yes, there might be occasions where you change priorities and go for the second choice. But this should never be your standard. Go for the prom queen! Aim high and attract the best in class for your team and business partners.
Risk getting burned
Real entrepreneurs are highly passionate about what they doing. Like in a relationship, the more you give the more you get out of it – in any sense. But passion and love always come with the risk of pain and harm. You’ll only reap the rewards if you’re willing to take the risks.
It is very tempting to avoid any commitments, especially in a place such as Berlin. Everything is flowing and it feels great to be indulged in parties every single night. Similarly in business, I have seen far too many people who get distracted by too many “projects“ running simultaneously. Make a choice, stick to it, stop fooling around and do just one thing damn right.
Keep a sense of perspective
At some point you may wonder why things are not feeling the way they should. Germans especially try to explain everything in a rational manner. It is often good to weigh up all the minute advantages and disadvantages, but keep in mind the big picture. And if you are totally honest with yourself, you’ll admit that some things might have felt awkward right from the start…
Know when to call it a day
Everything started well. Everything felt right. Of course, you had your ups and downs – as everyone does. But in general you were doing just fine. Or were you just pretending to be fine? Did you want it to be fine?
A day will come where you know for sure if it is not your cup of tea any more. You have worked hard to make it “a success“, but if crucial things are wrong and you cannot change them actively, know when to call it a day. As soon as possible! It is never easy, but when the decision is made you will wonder why it took you so long.
… and don’t be afraid to start all over again
Just like in romance, if things don’t work out with one venture, you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back in the saddle as soon as possible. Sure, you may feel bruised if a venture didn’t work out – it’ll make you stronger for next time around. Go back to step one and anticipate the next first buzz of love all over again…