Running a fast growing international start-up can become extremely costly and take a toll on your mental and physical health. Here’s what you can do to reduce your costs drastically while improving your quality of life.
It was 2015 when we were exhibited as Germany’s ‘Best Engineering Company’ at the Hanover Trade Fair. Our business took off overnight. After ten years in the lab, we entered the global market. Our biggest challenge had been that in our home market, our product had no traction whatsoever, as government support had just been slashed to zero, and we had missed the wave. So, we went global from day one, entering the US market with projects in Los Angeles, the UK, Austria, then Asia with a reach out to Africa.
We established offices in all time zones with distribution partners and trade fairs. This was great, but there were a lot of challenges to go with it. Firstly building successful projects on the ground, then hiring staff, and building a new management structure — all while fighting the in-house demons which were mainly working on self-protection in a fast-growing environment.
Initially, we lacked the necessary funding to grow the business, as investors basically wanted a return on their investment from day one and starved the market. So, while building the brand, product, and markets, we also had to run an around-the-clock marketing campaign and run a roadshow to build traction in order to attract new funding rounds. Within two years, our biggest operation was in the UK. Our fundraising was done in Los Angeles, our future was in Asia, our administration and development in Germany and our testing in Austria.
My management strategy was always based on meeting and talking to new staff, building relationships, going out for a meal, and building loyalty. I do think of myself as a pretty good leader, but sometimes, a poor manager. I thought I was still saving money. I got the best mobile roaming contract on my phone I could find with ATNT from the US, which is expensive but functional, so at least I was always reachable. I would exclusively book the cheapest airlines I could find, including Ryan Air…