Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in language education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Stefanie Pietschmann, Founder of Study German Online, located in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Study German Online is an online language school for German studies. I am teaching German as a foreign language online to students from all over the world and of all ages. My customers are primarily foreigners who moved to Germany for various reasons like work, love, or university studies. However, many students also study with me because they like German or do not want to lose their language skills and practice them.
Tell us about yourself
I first started teaching German in schools as a tutor during my university studies in International Journalism. After that, I began working as a freelancer in various fields, like writing blog articles and doing small translations. At the same time, I also started teaching German as a foreign language. This differs quite a lot from working with natives whose mother tongue is German; therefore, I enrolled in a year-long course from the Goethe Institute. It provided me with much fantastic information and a proper degree that enabled me to work for official and governmental institutions. Before relocating to the Netherlands in 2019, I started moving my offline teaching business online, which was a significant advantage when the COVID pandemic hit the world.
I have always liked languages, so it stands to reason to also occupy myself with them professionally. Being fluent in four languages myself (and currently working on another two) is an enormous help in understanding the difficulties of studying, especially if you are a grown-up. Besides, I am a very social person who likes to be with people, and teaching German combines all of that.
I enjoy building long-term relationships with my students, and because of that, I can pay special attention to their needs. For example, I know which individual problems the students have, which structures and vocabulary they already know, etc. I can work on each student’s unique key points to gain the most success, which is the biggest reward.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
When the COVID pandemic started, I was still teaching German only part-time. Having lost some other work because of the circumstances, I took this chance and decided that the time had come to become a full-time teacher. I am very thankful to hear the positive feedback of my students and see their progress as well that all the hard work paid off and I succeeded.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think that the most challenging thing is self-discipline. Being your own boss means you are responsible for everything, and no supervisor is telling you what to do. As much freedom as this brings, it also demands an enormous sense of responsibility and duty. And in the end, the outcomes are always a very clear reflection of your actions.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Consistency. When working on long-term projects like building a business, it is very important to keep your goal in mind because the road is not always easy, and the temptation might arise to give up. However, being consistent with what you do, even if things get complicated, is the only way to not get lost on the way and reach your goals.
- Get organized. Never think all work is done because there is always something to do. Yet, if you do not know which tasks are waiting for you and when you should do them, you will end up in a big mess, causing more problems than needed and getting in your way.
- Don’t forget yourself. With a full schedule and many visions, taking time off for yourself is easy to forget. However, you won’t reach the finish line if you already collapse in the middle if you don’t pace yourself.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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