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Times of Crisis Are Times of Counseling

Steinbeis consultant Doris Deichselberger provides support with the founding of a counseling center for people going through difficult times

First came the coronavirus pandemic, then came the impacts of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine: Many people are currently struggling with situations that cause psychological stress, or with difficult phases of life, or with the challenges of social upheaval and the fears associated with such situations. Not only can this have a serious impact on the circumstances of families, children, young adults, and other individuals; psychological well-being and mental health also have a direct influence on people’s working lives and, ultimately, overall social development. This is a fitting time to set up a counseling center dedicated to supporting and caring for people currently in need of urgent help in coping with everyday life. And this is exactly what the Enz Counseling Center in Mühlacker, Baden-Wuerttemberg, does. Steinbeis startup coach Doris Deichselberger, an expert in the field of business startups, drew on her expertise to provide support with setting up the center – from the initial idea to the actual launch of the company. “It was a project relating to key infrastructure, especially in current times, so I was very happy to help it become a success,” she explains.

Some of the services offered at the center include so-called outpatient parenting support, such as socio-pedagogical family assistance and outreach family therapy. Thanks to their training, many years of experience heading up public and independent youth welfare organizations, and the support of private providers of youth services, managing directors Lena Bullinger and Philipp Ziegler are not only in a position to appreciate such welfare services, they also know how they should be run, in cooperation with the youth welfare departments through which funding is provided. Experience shows that more socially disadvantaged families are in particular need of support. “We founded the Enz Counseling Center to provide individual support to children, teenagers, families, couples, but also individuals going through difficult times or crises, or when they want to make changes to their personal circumstances or workplace. The support from Doris Deichselberger, as a long-standing Steinbeis business consultant, was extremely valuable to us during this process,” say the two founders.

From the initial concept to implementation

Once the two founders had decided to embark on the journey to self-employment, they found themselves confronted by a whole host of questions: What type of business would be right for them, what should they write in the business plan, how should they acquire customers, who else would they need help from to successfully get the company off the ground? Bullinger and Ziegler went with their list of questions to Doris Deichselberger. “During the startup consultation session, we systematically worked out the answers to all our questions and got some really important information and advice,” say the business founders.

The services offered by the Enz Consulting Center are now based on four pillars:

  1. Outpatient parenting support in cooperation with the local youth welfare department
  2. Counseling for families, couples, and individuals going through difficult phases in life, with a desire to make a change
  3. Occupational social welfare advice, coaching, and team development for companies
  4. Taking time out, recreation, and events in the countryside (“Forest & Meadow”)

The Enz Counseling Center supports, advises, and accompanies people and groups both in private settings and at the workplace. To find suitable answers to different and often complex needs, Bullinger and Ziegler do their utmost to consider multidisciplinary requirements by offering a team of experts from different professional backgrounds, spanning a variety of areas of expertise.

“Aside from the practical and highly constructive ideas and inspiration we received, and access to different contacts from Ms. Deichselberger’s network, her coaching sessions laid a foundation for us to take all issues into account that would be relevant to setting up a company. At the same time, we received numerous ideas that proved helpful with important negotiations and customer acquisition,” conclude Bullinger and Ziegler.

Tips on successful client acquisition

With the support of Deichselberger, the business founders worked up a comprehensive acquisition concept and an effective implementation strategy. “A number of steps need to be followed to succeed with client acquisition. One thing I recommend is planning specific approaches in detail rather than just going out there without properly thinking things through – so, for example, in what order and with which ideas should customers be approached? What do customers actually need? What’s the benefit to them? Where do you already have contacts? What’s the goal for each meeting? From experience, this is a successful way to build on contacts to new customers,” suggests Deichselberger.

Focus on occupational health management

In addition to services offered in the field of outpatient child and youth welfare, and counseling for private individuals, another important service offered by the founders is aimed at companies and organizations with a focus on the psycho-social health and well-being of employees, especially as part of occupational health management programs.

By offering active support on issues relating to work, healthcare, the family, and people’s personal situations, Bullinger and Ziegler work with clients on the development of a made-to-measure roadmap for maintaining good health and staff performance. This is achieved in close cooperation with the firms that hire them to actively help achieve significant reductions in the psychological and mental stress of employees.

Companies and other organizations can also take advantage of service bundles related to team development. This is where, if interested, services can be linked to events organized under the Forest & Meadow pillar, to allow teams to stand well back from the workplace and get to know each other – and grow together – in completely different ways.

The support provided by Deichselberger as a management consultant played a pivotal role in the success of the new company set up by co-managing directors Bullinger and Ziegler, who also succeeded in positioning the Enz Counseling Center among key stakeholders. “In addition, the impartial views of a third party allow you to look at your startup from a different angle and this offers you an opportunity to get off to a safe start by receiving professional advice – especially in times of crisis,” highlights Deichselberger.


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