Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sylvie Schoch, Owner of IP-International GmbH - Creative Corporate Training, located in Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Germany.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is a creative corporate training, individual and team coaching and consulting (how to improve teamwork, cooperation, streamline workflows, avoid waste, and create a work environment that makes people strive and customers happy) for small and medium-sized companies (but not only) and professionals of just any sector, including education and healthcare. My multifaceted focus is always on people, no matter what kind of organization.
Tell us about yourself
I have always followed my passions, and this business is no exception. I am always eager to learn and innovate, discover, untap, and develop peoples' and organizations' hidden potential. I love seeing them strive to achieve their goals. And I love to invent fun ways to do so, like, for example, the "Personal Inner Team" (PIT). This online card game enables individuals and work groups to discover their untapped potential to develop and use it effectively to reach their individual and organizational goals.
If you want to know more about the "PIT," go to my LinkedIn profile. I love building bridges between opposites, technical skills, and transversal skills. And I love streamlining processes and eliminating everything that does not add value. I learned this from early childhood: my mom was a champion of work, workplace organization, and waste elimination.
Therefore, it is not surprising that I love organizing, improving efficiency and effectiveness, and focusing on what adds value, eliminating everything that does not. And this can be fun, especially when you involve people and create teams with people who cooperate across functions. A joint effort, where my success equals customers' success, goes hand in hand with meaningfulness and a fulfilled life. My motto is "Work less, COLLABORATE and Accomplish more," or WCA – Work Collaborate Accomplish.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I would not think in terms of one biggest accomplishment. I would instead think of many achievements along the way. Big or small, it all depends on the observer's point of view. I would not measure accomplishment only in terms of money, especially in the short term. Satisfied customers, happy employees, and an efficient and effective workflow with no waste are something to achieve and maintain over time.
I measure accomplishment by achieving goals step by step and being persistent, especially when the going gets tough. One of my customers in the healthcare sector had been negatively evaluated in an audit from its public healthcare agency because of a lack of compliance with mandatory quality criteria, which, by the way, were written in a way that was not easy to grasp, learn and understand.
What I did was create a learning board game for the professionals involved to:
- Convey the quality criteria in an easy-to-grasp way.
- Promote team spirit and cross-functional cooperation to ensure quality was not perceived as a one-off item for the audit but as a continuous process to be consistently improved.
This organization reached the highest possible level at the following audit, i.e., excellent. The professionals involved were motivated and proud of their daily achievements as individuals and teams.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a business owner gives you a lot of freedom, which comes with a lot of responsibility towards customers, yourself, your employees, or the people who collaborate with you. Living your dream and passion is highly satisfying. At the same time, you always need to be aware of your customer's needs and what adds value to their businesses and lives.
Not to mention the patience and firmness to keep going when going through difficult times to see and enjoy the fruit of your efforts. When your business is based on what you are passionate about, it might take time to keep an eye on the figures and the nitty-gritty of a business. In any case, owning a company might be challenging. Still, it is a massive opportunity for personal growth and a fulfilling life.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
It is important not to focus only on money. Money is undoubtedly essential, but running a business is more than just a sound balance sheet and making a profit. It is about focussing on what adds value to your customers while doing something you love and love enough to endure difficult times.
Create a business plan and do the maths. This seems to contradict what I have just said, but once you know what your customers need and what they are willing to pay for, along with what you love doing and are good at, you need a plan with all the necessary financial aspects to show what your business is all about.
Always keep questioning what you and your business are doing. Is there anything I do not see? Is there something I need to be aware of? What needs improving? This includes all aspects of the business: from customers, services, or products you offer to the people who work with you and the work organization, to name a few.
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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