If before last year the world had a magical crystal ball that could see into the future, I doubt many would have chosen 2020 to start a new business. I don’t need to remind anyone of the immense human and financial impact the pandemic has caused across the world that on the surface would seem to think that it would be better to be more conservative.
As it turned out, 2020 was a great year to start a startup company. As history has often shown, the ashes of a recession often give birth to the green shoots of new businesses, formed by the minds of ambitious and forward-looking groups or people who are ready to advance humanity.
Change is necessary to move forward as a species, and new ways of working, new technologies, and new ideas, often picked up by startups, are the catalyst for change.
Cox Automotive is a company that doesn’t like to stand still. We think ahead and are ambitious. We always make sure that we are at the forefront of the automotive industry and best able to help our customers overcome challenges and seize opportunities.
With this in mind, I was delighted to launch Manheim Express in Germany on June 15 last year, a new digital company with the aim of changing online auctions for retail in Europe. Now, a year later, and after many experiences along the way, I would like to share some of my experiences with you in the hope that I can help others who are also taking the plunge and a want to start a new business.
1. Be adaptable
Running a start-up means that you often live in a world full of tension. There are times when you question norms, which can lead to people questioning your ideas. When that happens, it’s important that you absolutely believe in your idea, but are also willing to adapt. There will inevitably be unexpected challenges along the way, so it is necessary to be agile while sticking to your core vision.
2. Believe in your vision
There will be ups and downs along the way, so it is important to realize that a bad week is not a bad thing. Instead, see difficult periods as an opportunity to learn something that will ultimately improve your business. If you look back, a bad month will only be a minor outlier in your overall progress.
3. Motivate your employees
Your employees are your greatest asset. Learn to understand who is helping you on your way to your vision, but most importantly, as a leader, you are there for them. Maintain a positive attitude and a positive outlook and your employees will be motivated to achieve the same goals as well. But also be prepared for the fact that you will lose people on the way there. Some people will not share your vision and that is fine. A cohesive team is especially important for a company in the early stages.
4. Be ambitious
One of my favorite sayings is: “Aim for the moon, if you miss it, you will be under the stars”. This perfectly describes the mindset required to build a successful start-up.
Don’t be afraid to question norms – as a species we would never achieve anything if we always did things the same way.
5. Accept your weak spots
Choosing a leader’s path takes strength, but your powers are not infinite. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to take breaks. Everyone has to recharge their batteries every now and then and your business will be all the better in the long run. And if you hang out with the right people, they will help you when you need a break.
6. Dare to jump
Be brave and be ready to take leaps in confidence. While you are little, do the things your competition is unwilling to do.
If you take the step now, you will be a more competitive company in the future than one that has to reinvent itself on a large scale. For Manheim Express, AI and fintech integration are just two ways we did it.
7. Stay connected
The connections we make over the course of our lives help us move forward faster. In this sense, stay connected to your team, your customers, but above all to the outside world. In difficult times, the people you are connected with will straighten you up, and your customers will be a constant source of inspiration. Never stop exploring new things – you never know where the next spark for a great idea will come from.
Automobility is his great passion. In the course of his career, he has already implemented exciting projects for several major brands, including Jaguar and Land Rover Germany, Hyundai Motor Europe GmbH, Europcar and the Volvo Car Corporation. After joining Cox Automotive in 2017, his current task is to develop a completely new digital business model for the used car industry with Manheim Express.