“We can’t change the wind, but we can change the sails.”Aristotle
This quote shows that one should also change a concept, even if the wind is the same. The wind is the open-house welcome evening. The sails are the concept of the event.
Twice a year, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) organises a welcome evening for new company founders in the region. The concept has changed recently. Entrepreneurs are invited by post or e-mail. Mostly it concerns approximately 100 new entrepreneurs. One year ago, very few entrepreneurs came to this meeting (just seven people), because the format was very outdated. The welcome evening took place exclusively in the areas of the chamber of commerce and industry Cottbus. The chamber of commerce and industry was presented in a presentation by the director of the district chapter, who particularly emphasized the achievements. However, this event format did not find any more visitors, so that in the middle of 2019 the concept had to change completely.
Now the question had to be asked why more entrepreneurs did not attend the event. Together with the office in Senftenberg, I developed a new concept. It was important to look for an entrepreneur in the region where a welcome evening can take place. The choice fell on an egg liqueur producer in Senftenberg: “Das scharfe Gelb”. We planned an inspection of the manufacturing process followed by a tasting. Afterwards, a barbecue evening rounded off the event. In order to give us the appropriate feedback, we designed beer mats for labelling. In order to advance the discussion and get to know each other, I designed some flags with different terms for bratwurst, which were then inserted into the sausages after they had been grilled. We included terms like “promotion”, “emergency planning”, “financing” or “ZDF” (German for “numbers, data, facts”). The plan was now in place, but the big question remained: How is it being received? At the beginning, every entrepreneur should receive a bag with important information and future events.
On 8 August 2019 the welcome evening took place as planned. There were 20 registrations, which is pretty good for a new format. At 6 p.m. the meeting started with a greeting and a special surprise, because we now counted about 30 people. After the greeting, the managing director led us through the rooms of his company. He also gave some useful hints for the other entrepreneurs.
During the barbecue that followed, the concept of the flags worked out perfectly. All participants got into conversation with each other and the employees of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce already arranged the first appointments for consultations. The idea with the beer coasters had to be helped a little by asking the new founders to give us some feedback. We evaluated these feedback cards on the following day and the results were amazing. For example: “a very successful event” or “absolute need for repetition”. There were many positive things, but we also took a critical look at the event. We noticed, for example, that the bags with the advertising materials were somewhat outdated and not in tune with the age of digitisation. In future formats, only USB sticks will be used in order to save resources. In the aftermath of the event, an article was published in Forum, a magazine in which all 34,000 companies are informed about the work of the IHK.
The office in Senftenberg was the first of four to try out the new concept. Due to the numerous positive impressions, the concept will now also be implemented in all other locations in South Brandenburg. It is important to change something in order to inspire new entrepreneurs.