© Larissa Fessl

Independent at last: A journey through the (Covid-19) Crisis into Self Employment

Steinbeis consultant Doris Deichselberger helps business founder start her own design studio

Many people feel a desire to find fulfillment at work, and many associate self-employment with freedom, autonomy, and professional independence. But what does it take to fulfill your dream of being your own boss? This is an issue Steinbeis Entrepreneur and startup consultant Doris Deichselberger, of the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Change Management and Business Coaching, thinks about every day. During the coronavirus pandemic, Doris Deichselberger helped Larissa Fessl, a media and communication designer start her own business.

Is there a right way to succeed in your career? Or does professional success include much more of the individual pursuit of personal goals and achieving what you’re capable of than anything else? Steinbeis expert Doris Deichselberger helps startups build their base to become successful businesses. Drawing on the expert knowledge of a startup consultant can be of major help when you’re taking your first steps in business. “Every startup is different. It’s important to tailor your advice to each project and the individual business founder,” explains Doris Deichselberger. One startup she supported was a design studio by Larissa Fessl, who had already toyed with the idea of launching her own business as an illustrator when she was a student. Despite this, she started her career as an employee, working as a designer and art director at advertising agencies for a few years. Looking back, Larissa Fessl says, “For the most part I enjoyed my work, but I knew pretty quickly that something was missing.” She wanted to pursue her passion for design, illustration, and finding creative ideas and gain more appreciation for her work.

The first step into self-employment

This underlying sense of dissatisfaction intensified when Larissa Fessl started working from home during the first coronavirus lockdown, and the urge to become self-employed grew even stronger. It was while she was researching information on setting up her own business that she stumbled upon the business consultant Doris Deichselberger and the EXI Startup Voucher program. The business consultant became a sparring partner for the illustrator, providing support on taking her first steps into self-employment and applying for a startup grant.

Long-term cooperation with Steinbeis

Larissa Fessl found it particularly beneficial receiving support from the Steinbeis coach on analyzing the target group, marketing, and client acquisition. Together, they discussed ideas, goals, and aspirations and planned a roadmap for further steps. During the subsequent fast-track consultation, Doris Deichselberger helped the illustrator implement her defined strategy, which also provided a structure for the newly founded creative startup.

Even today, almost a year after setting up her own business, Larissa Fessl still derives inspiration from her sparring partner. In the meantime, she has set up a small design studio, in which she helps other self-employed women design a coherent brand image, i.e. a corporate design. In parallel to this, she is working on an online store, where she’s planning to sell her illustrations as prints.

The Steinbeis EXI Startup Voucher

Funded jointly by the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labor, and Tourism and the European Social Fund, EXI vouchers are aimed at anyone interested in setting up a business in Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Step 1: Short consultation session (free)

  • Individual assessment of the startup concept
  • Initial assessment of plans; information on financing and funding options

Step 2: Fast-track consultation (discounted daily fees of €160 + sales tax)

Fast-track startup coaching to build on the short consultation session, covering topics such as:

  • The business model, a robust business plan, organizational planning
  • Customer acceptance/market entry strategy/sales and distribution
  • Funding/financing, especially venture capital

More information: https://steinbeis-exi.de, where applications can also be submitted.


Doris Deichselberger (author)
Steinbeis Entrepreneur
Steinbeis Consulting Center: Change Management and Business Coaching (Stuttgart)