Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Flooris Van Der Walt, Owner of vanderwalt GmbH, located in Wohlen, Aargau, Switzerland.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I run workshops on Building Courage to face Change and Uncertainty. This is a personal reflective workshop to challenge the mindset and address the individual's belief systems. My customers are typical, though not exclusively, multination companies that went through big changes, like a restructuring or an integration after an acquisition, or even companies who have so much change going that the employees freeze up and are not willing to put their necks out for the extra mile in fear of being exposed. We know through research (Gallup) that engagement has a direct correlation with financial success. Therefore, we are called in to improve the engagement of the employees.
Tell us about yourself
I am a clinical psychologist who worked for 30 years in multinationals in HR. I have seen several situations where employees have suffered during change processes and even became sick or burned out because of the stress they went through. During such a process, a divisional HR manager came to me with her hands in her hair about two companies in her division that did not want to integrate. The processes are dealt with, though the people refuse to cooperate.
We created a workshop with an external partner, and during the pilot run in the US, we saw the mental changes in the employees. We ran it in Europe, India, and China and realized that the format of the workshop does give people a new perspective and relieves them from being over-stressed.
Through this experience, I realized that I could contribute much more to the mental health of the employees by focusing only on this process – this is what motivates me up till today – to see people coping better with their working environment, to the benefit of all.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
On a personal level, I believe it is when participants that went through the workshop told me that we are reflecting on life skills that helped them in their daily lives. When I got feedback from participants, up to 8 years after the workshop, that the workshop was a life-changing experience for them, I felt that I was achieving my purpose in life.
After COVID, I observe more and more executive committees that need to reflect on how they work together and deal with the new working environment. Once we have the mindset of the top executives right, they influence the others, and then it is great to see the cultural change of such a company – again, to the benefit of all.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
To believe in yourself and your skill set. While you are new in the field, there are enough doom prophets (including friends and family) who are skeptical, asking whether you believe you are on the right track and whether it is not more secure to be an employee and get a regular income (especially when you have a family). During these times, one has to stand firm in what one believes in, what motivates you and why you get out of bed like a spring to execute the ideas that came to you overnight.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Manage your cash flow at all times – contemplating expenses compared to your cash flow and not your income was a lesson I learned early in my entrepreneurship.
- Listen to the critics, though calibrate what they say with what you know about your product and the markets.
- Balance your own life between working hard and looking after yourself. One can easily lose oneself in the relentless need to perform.
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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