More new companies were established in Switzerland in 2020 than ever before. Just short of 47,000 entries in the Swiss commercial register make this a record year. We asked three company founders the following: What motivated you to start your own business in the midst of this challenging economic situation?
Petra Bürgler is a hairdresser. Last October she achieved her dream of owning her own salon, the “Schnittplatz”. During the lockdown in the spring – when she was still working for someone else – she suddenly had a lot of spare time. Time to think in peace, space to consider new prospects and to catch her breath after seven years on the treadmill. “The timeout motivated me to rethink my life up to that point. I realized that I wanted to move on and set up something new.” After she had taken the decision to become self-employed, all the doors suddenly opened up to her and suitable premises became vacant in a central location.
The timeout during lockdown motivated me to rethink my life.
Petra Bürgler decided to risk everything and invested the majority of her savings in her salon. From the outset the established entrepreneur was able to count on the support of her loyal past customers. Thanks to them the business was a success from the very first day. Particularly in such demanding times, many people want an oasis where they can recuperate, a brief timeout from their everyday lives or often simply a friendly ear for their troubles. A visit to the hairdresser is perfect for this. What has changed for her as a result of her independence? “I certainly don’t work any less, but I don’t mind because it’s my own business. There is more passion involved and I do everything myself,” says the young entrepreneur. She has no fear of losing her livelihood. She is an optimist and her glass is always half full.
Exploit the opportunities while they are there
Who would open a restaurant in the middle of the coronavirus autumn of 2020? Morris Welti is an entrepreneur who does not shy away from challenges. After completing his course at hotel college, together with his business partner he set to the task of restoring the fortunes of the Café Plüsch, which was about to file for bankruptcy. The pair managed to get the business back into the black and finally took it over in 2018. Their collaboration was a success and they soon had the idea of opening a second business. Suddenly, in the spring of 2020, there was a great opportunity: A restaurant project which had been at the planning stage for many years finally got the green light, but the original operators bailed out. “That’s how we got involved,” says Morris Welti. “We didn’t have to think twice, because this was the opportunity that we’d been waiting for. Even though the building was still just a shell, we turned our concept into reality in no time at all and finally opened the Café Chiffon in October.” The entrepreneur is well aware that this is not an easy time for catering businesses. He had to take into account that his café might have to close again, temporarily at least. Morris Welti saw it as an opportunity to gain experience.
We knew it wouldn't be an easy time, and yet we took the chance.
“Giving up is not an option”
In the two and a half months while the café was open, before lockdown returned in autumn, many customers came his way. Both operators saw their expectations exceeded. For Morris Welti one thing is clear: “Without coronavirus the business would certainly have done even better, but as a result we had more scope to become established and to rethink processes. Of course I do hope that we will soon be able to work under reasonably normal conditions.” Even though the situation still looks uncertain at the moment, giving up is not an option for Morris Welti. Catering is his passion. For this entrepreneur there is nothing cooler than running his own café. The solution-oriented man of action is currently working on a take-out concept, which is slightly more crisis-resistant.
Loss of job a “stroke of luck”?
Susanne Vital explains how self-employment can work with two small children. The trained florist had been working in her profession for over 20 years. At the start of 2020 she wanted to go back to her old job after maternity leave – but nothing came of the promised employment. Without further ado the young mother decided to take the risk of self-employment. She had been playing with the idea for some time. At the same time she started an online course to become an interior designer. “With the benefit of hindsight it was a stroke of luck that the job came to nothing,” says Susanne Vital. “I work at home now, so I can look after my younger daughter myself instead of taking her to the day care. This is a much better way of reconciling job and family.” With no shop or workshop, she is flexible and not tied to any one place. She works when it suits her – be that in the evening, during the weekend or at lunchtime.
I work at home now, so I can reconcile work and family life much better.
Who dares wins
It had always been Susanne Vital’s passion to express her creativity. The business idea behind her company, “Prime Living”, was interior design advice combined with an online shop for decoration. Most people are spending a lot of time at home at the moment. It is becoming increasingly difficult for them to separate their private lives from the demands of working from home. “Often all it takes is a few small changes of décor to improve the feeling of wellbeing within their own homes,” stresses the up-and-coming interior designer. Susanne Vital knows that she is in a comfortable situation, because her husband’s permanent job provides financial stability. So she can take the time she needs to establish her business.