On the evening of Monday, November 10, 2014, 57 interested students and alumni attended the first event in a new series entitled “Start Up Now – FS Entrepreneurs in the Spotlight!” held at Frankfurt School. The new series is jointly organised by the Career Services and Alumni Management teams, and aims to complement the newly founded FS Board for Young Entrepreneurship (FSBFYE) – a student initiative – by offering another forum in which all aspects of entrepreneurship and self-employment can be discussed openly and frankly.
FS alumnus Sven Tischendorf drew upon his own experience as he explained the challenges and opportunities associated with starting a business, and highlighted the qualities that help new entrepreneurs succeed. The legal specialist, who also has a doctorate, studied for an EMBA (Executive MBA) at Frankfurt School between 2010 and 2011. He founded AC Tischendorf – a corporate law firm that has since become very successful – with two partners, back in 2000.
“There are many ways of defining self-employment. The simplest, and to my mind the most evocative, is this,” said Tischendorf at the start of his lecture, and wrote a simple equation up on the whiteboard: self-employment = self + employed. “As a self-employed business owner, you work for yourself – all the time! If work-life balance is very important to you, you need to think very carefully about self-employment and whether it’s the right step for you.”
In fact, personality traits and attitudes play by far the most important role. According to Tischendorf, if you take a close look at successful entrepreneurs, it becomes very obvious that many of them share key qualities. “Typically, almost all those who decide to start their own businesses are characterised by a certain degree of nonconformity. Think back for a moment, to times when you’ve walked into a room full of people. Who was it you remembered most vividly at the end of the day? Certainly not the most conventional or conformist!” In his view, other important attributes for success include authenticity, honesty and empathy. “You certainly don’t have to be the nicest person. But other people must be able to trust you.”
The business lawyer also gave his listeners some practical tips. The step into self-employment should be carefully timed. “Unless you’re addressing a very specific market niche, it’s important to build up some professional experience in advance – and above all, some really dependable customer relationships.”
Many members of the audience were impressed by the amount of personal experience Sven Tischendorf chose to share with them. “In September, I also attended the inaugural event for the student initiative, where young students and career-starters were presenting their startups. Dr Tischendorf’s lecture was a contrast, in that he advocated the more traditional path to self-employment. I found this juxtaposition of different approaches very exciting,” concluded Marc Higgins (currently in the first semester of a Bachelor in Business Administration degree course).
Afterwards, a small reception gave students and alumni a chance to fortify themselves with snacks and drinks while discussing the ideas explored in the talk.