Interview
30/04/2024

"Failure is part of the game"

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At the beginning of April, we told you Melanie's story: she started her own second-hand bridal shop while working as a photo editor at Burda. Today, we are also speaking to a founder. Tanja zu Waldeck, however, did not start her business while working for Burda, but ended up here because of it: Netmoms is Germany's first online portal for parents. Today, it is part of our digital brand BurdaForward, of which Tanja is CEO. In the interview, the former management consultant tells her story – and reveals the qualities she believes successful entrepreneurs and founders have in their DNA.

Tanja, how do you really become a successful entrepreneur?

"A good dose of luck is always involved," says Tanja. She is convinced that even extremely good business ideas can go wrong if, for example, the target group is too small or you don't understand their needs well enough. That's why she argues that entrepreneurs need to develop a deep understanding of their potential target group, to find out if they really exist and what problems can be solved for them. Especially if, like Tanja, you are starting a new business or developing a new product.

Step by step: Decide, find the idea, research the audience

To identify a target group, you first need an idea. While many founders want to turn their "dream" into reality, Tanja took the opposite approach: Her dream was not a specific product, but the founding itself. When she was pregnant with her first child, she also wanted to build something of her own professionally.

She started thinking about what she could do to start her own business – and thanks to her new role as a mother, she came up with the idea for 'Netmoms'. Together with an old colleague, she set up the site – and turned it into the most successful parenting portal in Germany: "It's generally advisable to choose a niche with a target group you can identify with – that way it's much easier to recognise potential problems and solutions," Tanja explains.

She attributes her success to a number of factors:

  • Her willingness to take risks and try new things
  • Her good network
  • Her inner drive for freedom and adventure
  • The support of her husband and personal environment
  • Her entrepreneurial approach
  • How she deals with setbacks

According to Tanja, these are all factors that are virtually in the DNA of many successful entrepreneurs and founders: "Above all, I think that consciously taking risks and embracing new adventures without fear are qualities that everyone has in common."

Another important aspect of successful entrepreneurship, according to Tanja, is dealing with setbacks: "Failure is part of it." The key is not to let setbacks, large or small, throw you off course. "It is important to learn from them as quickly as possible and then continue in an optimised way.

The success mindset

As a former management consultant, Tanja approached her start-up with a special mindset: with an entrepreneurial and holistic mindset, she carefully analysed every step and development of the portal. The important question: "Does my product solve a consumer problem? Netmoms did and still does: many women who become mothers have questions and feel insecure. A network where they can exchange ideas with other women who are in the same situation or have already solved it could be a real help.

Tanja also sees her good, broad network as a key factor in her success – for example, she has always been able to call on friends, acquaintances and colleagues when it comes to questions about website programming, marketing or other topics.

The most important thing for Tanja was the support of her husband and those around her: "There are so many people who try to talk you out of starting a business because they think it's too risky or they can't get behind the idea. It's immensely important to have full support and advocacy in your immediate environment".

"Endless untapped potential: now is the best time to be a founder

You might think that the market for founders is pretty much tapped out, with countless start-ups popping up in every corner for the past few years. But Tanja sees things differently: "I see a lot of untapped potential here," she says.

In her opinion, there is one area in particular that has been neglected: Women and their needs. "The majority of founders and investors are male – and therefore deal with male problems. Now is the time for more women to take the plunge – the conditions couldn't be better right now!

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