Monthly Archives: April 2017

No Chance For Youngsters To Start A Business?

Never heard of any German Mark Zuckerberg? No wonder, in Germany’s schools and homes, yougnsters hardly get motivated to become enterpreneurs, according to a study. Teenagers with business ideas must actively search when trying to find people who support them.

By Jens Kügler

The backbone of the German economy are the SME, not the trusts. The so-called entrepreneurial spirit must therefore be widespread—one would think. However, a study by the German digital association Bitkom from autumn of 2016 seems to prove the opposite. 64 percent of all teachers would advise their students not trying a business start-up! Perhaps this is not surprising for teachers as these people who have consciously opted for an official career. But among the parents it does not look any better, on the contrary. Six out of ten mums and dads would also say: kid, don’t start your own business. Find a safe job!

Such a society does not motivate for a step towards self-employment. After all, there are some founder plans or competitions, but usually only at schools. Among the skeptical teachers, these unfortunately remain exceptions. Well, on the portal Franchise-Treff.de I casually came across an excellent initiative. The authors Verena Iking and Steffen Kessler very often publish interesting SME topics and articles on business ideas or support measures. In one of their recent articles they introduced an initiative called STARTUP TEENS.

At startupteens.de, 14 to 19-year-olds are specifically called upon to realize their own ideas and to start a company or to pursue a company succession. In online trainings and at events, young people learn to think and act like enterpreneurs—for free. More than 200 mentors advise the youngsters and provide them with their know-how for a company’s foundation. The consultants are entrepreneurs, managers or Chamber of Commerce representatives. In a business plan competition, participants can win up to € 10,000 for their business ideas. Unfortunately, the registration seems to be only possible through the school. Hopefully, as many students as possible get to know about the initiative, as Verena Iking concludes her article.

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Bosses on Facebook? Don’t Worry …

A current study for applicants reveals that the appearances in the social networks are not as important to the personnel responsible as frequently feared. At least, not yet.

By Jens Kügler

Haven’t we always warned applicants in the recent years, saying things like: “Candidates, take out your embarrassing party pictures. The bosses spy on Facebook or Instagram—and then good night, dream job.” It’s good that now somebody has asked for more: the Kienbaum consulting firm and the Staufenbiel Institute for Study and Career Planning took on the topic. Together they published a study last week under the title “Jobtrends 2017 – was Berufseinsteiger wissen müssen” (Job trends 2017 – what beginners have to know). The market researchers surveyed around 300 companies with more than five million employees worldwide.

The result on the subject of online ckecks? Only three per cent of all bosses and HR managers search and see their applicants on Facebook. And six per cent said they were usually going to google any application submitted. To google is at the top of the online check-ups with almost 50 percent of all cases—and then, the own website or the presence on Xing or LinkedIn may be more important than any private rubbish on the other social networks. So if you do not show anything absolutely disfiguring, there is no need to worry.

All warnings diffused? No, not really. For every boss who checks online, every tenth candidate disqualifies through his digital performances. So, in case of doubt, better think about what you post. Especially as not only the boss but the possible new boy- or girlfriend also finds the faux pas on Facebook or Instagram. And certainly the number and importance of the HR people’s online checks tend to increase rather than decrease.

Of course, the market researchers were not only concerned with the issue of social network presences. The study has produced further highly interesting results. For example, 40 percent of the HR staff only take five minutes or even less for the first exam of an application. A further result is that work practical experience is higher regarded than graduation marks or titles—even for graduates and job starters. More than 80 per cent of all HR managers said that the experience from as many internships as possible was more important than the title and the final marks of the regular study. My advice: Simply check the study online and maybe let it translate.

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Crashed deeply and got up again

In Germany you can do almost anything. Just do not fail. And do not risk too much. Just why?

By Jens Kügler

It was right in the time of the new economy, well before the collapse of the market, the “dotcom bubble” in the spring of 2000. A startup company had employed me. That business wanted to become nothing less than the world market leader in online shopping. The banks had given it three-figure million loans. Before the planned IPO, we, the company’s very first employees, were able to secure stock options. Everyone could buy some ten thousands of shares at a purchase price of around three euros each. It was expected that the issue price would multiply within a very short time – like the Yahoo stock did – and we could all get rich with it like Donald T.

In my caution, of course, I did not want to take any risk and only bought so many options that I still had an emergency reserve of my liquid assets, although I also was convinced of the company’s expected success. My esteemed colleague and table neighbor P. took the whole “chance”: he took out loans and bought the entire package—just like many other “crazy” colleagues did. At that time I envied him for his courage. I later regretted him. Because the bankruptcy of the company only let me lose about as much money as I had earned as a salary in a one year of working there. He, however, got caught deeply in debt with his young family—a situation which makes some people commit suicide.

I do not know how he did but he “made” it again. He could really reduce his debts. He even succeeded in establishing a company in the communications sector which he now successfully operates in the market. He certainly did not fulfill the dream of great fortune. But he took the fight when he had to fight. And obviously he has learned to master even a seemingly hopeless situation.

Recently I read about a study by the University of Michigan. The market researchers there had found out that companies with a culture of error-forgiveness are less susceptible to crises. Trial and Error is obviously a success model. If the employees dare to try and may also fail, they dare to be more innovative and thus promote companies instead of jeopardizing them. We’re only humans, born to make make mistakes, as a famous song puts it. We do make false decisions or even “stupidities”. And over here, we often get outlawed for this in a way. I, however, respect and admire people who get up and try again.

Don’t we all admire people like Samuel Koch or Philippe Pozzo di Borgo? Samuel Koch broke his neck at a stunt in Germany’s formerly most successful TV series, “Wetten Dass”. As a paraplegic, he found his fortune in becoming an actor and theater producer. Philippe Pozzo di Borgo was a successful entrepreneur and suffered a similar fate at paragliding. In the movie “The Intouchables” the world saw that a life like his is not only unfortunate. For me, recovering from a significantly smaller fall just like my colleague P. is a very great achievement, too.

By the way, the managing director and some management employees of the failed “world market leader” of 2000 have emigrated—as far away as anyone can from Germany—to Australia. They have built up one of that continent’s leading telecommunication providers and made it to the stock exchange. They crashed down here and shot up like a rocket Down Under. Chapeau!

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