Thanks to the Gründerinnenzentrale Berlin, a platform supporting women in setting up their own business, we met Aniela Horntrich. Since her childhood, Aniela has cultivated a passion for gardens, wild herbs and tea plants. She recently turned her passion into her professional activity, and now teaches Berliners how to “vegetate” their terrace and balconies. Her small enterprise NELKA (www.nelka.net) was just set up this year.
Aniela, what is your business idea / philosophy?
I specialized in the “greening” of small urban areas such as roof terraces, balconies and patios. I often adapt my work to the residents’ preferences. Most clients want to be included in the designing and elaboration of the garden so that it becomes a common experience. I also take care of the plants or help my clients to take care of them!
How did you “learn” to be an entrepreneur?
The “learning” took place at two different levels. On the one hand, I acquired the expertise on gardens, on the other hand I had to learn how to be self-employed, to found my own company, where I need to pay specific attention, who can support me, etc.
I acquired the expertise by practicing, while I was taking care of our family garden and roof terrace. During this time, a true passion for planting and working on roof terraces emerged. Even though I already had a job, I took the time to develop this passion. I think that having an interest and pleasure in doing something helps learning quickly and simplifies the learning process. Before I set up my business I did a lot of researches on the internet, I red many books, visited gardens and tested many new things in my garden and roof terrace.
Moreover, as I worked for some time as a project manager, I am at my ease with all kind of people, I am good in communication and can successfully manage projects. Additionally, my back office experience helped me in tasks such as accounting, taxes, invoicing, etc…
The Gründerinnenzentrale Berlin has been a great support in finding someone who could help me writing my business plan. I would recommend anyone to write his/her own business plan. It is possible to find templates on the internet, the content can be then developed autonomously. It took me much more time than I planned, but it was worth it because many things became clearer, for example how many contracts I need to get before my balance is positive!
Did you attend a course?
After completion of the website (I used a programme with some ready-to-use templates) I followed a course at the Gründerinnenzentral about search-engine optimization. I had no idea about it, I only knew that being visible on the Internet is important. The course provided me with good inputs and I could really improve the visibility of my website.
What about social networks?
They are essential. I have been trying to be present on different social networks and platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest or Houzz. Physical networks should not be forgotten! It is very important to build and maintain a large network of different people. You have to learn to catch and re-catch people’s attention, without being too intrusive. You never know where the next job is coming from… In addition, exchange with colleagues is very important and is always a precious source of information!
Aniela, thank you very much for your contribution and all the best in your endeavors!