After obtaining certification as a oral surgery specialist, Dr. Martin Lampmann gained his first work experience at the university hospital in Heidelberg before deciding to venture into self-employment with his own practice. One thing soon became clear: He would need to tap into some additional business expertise. The Steinbeis startup voucher gave this budding entrepreneur access to professional consulting.
“I was sure that my business idea would work,” says Martin Lampmann as he looks back. “After all, I didn’t want to open your average dental practice. I wanted to exclusively offer oral surgery with a focus on implants. My offices are completely digital, from the administration to the technical equipment. We offer 3D X-rays and digital implant planning.” But the young dentist quickly came to realize that the vision of a highly modernized practice specializing in oral surgery isn’t enough to convince banks with his endeavor – as for any other kind of entrepreneur, dentists must also present a strong business plan. “Unfortunately, studying dentistry doesn’t exactly lay the right foundations in terms of business administration. That’s why I needed some support, but I had very few financial resources at my disposal,” explains the young business founder. Following a personal recommendation, he met up with Markus Schäfer, who suggested a startup voucher. Schäfer works as a Steinbeis consultant and is also CEO of Advico from Leonberg, Germany. He and his team specialize in startup consulting and financing. Founding entrepreneurs can apply for support with their endeavors as part of the startup voucher funding program offered by the European Social Fund and the Ministry for Finance and the Economy.
Martin Lampmann first took advantage of a short consultation session and then an in-depth consultation. The short consultation, which is available free of charge, gives budding entrepreneurs up to 8 hours of feedback for topics like products, the market, customers and business administration prior to founding the new startup. The in-depth consultation, in which a business plan is developed, generally runs over 10 days. Startups only bear 20 percent of the costs, or a maximum of €160 per day (incl. VAT). “There is a big difference between paying €800 per day or only paying €160,” says Lampmann. “But the far greater benefit lies in access to experts. The consulting sessions forced me to think my business model through, down to the smallest detail, and to concentrate on things that I hadn’t even considered previously. This included things like a SWOT analysis, choosing the right location, market potential and the competition.” Analyzing the target groups and market volume provided impressive confirmation of the young entrepreneur’s business concept. It revealed, for example, that the market potential for implants for people over the age of 45 totaled more than €105 million in the Stuttgart area.
The detailed business plan – complete with a 3-year forecast of turnover, budgets and liquidity – was enough to win over the banks. Lampmann was able to open his practice in Stuttgart in April of 2013. So far, not everything is running strictly according to plan, but Lampmann is convinced that his practice will be a success. “Thanks to the initial forecast exercise, I always have a complete overview of what’s working and where we need to channel more effort. The Steinbeis consulting sessions and drafting the business plan are still incredibly useful to me because I can make sense of the numbers that my tax advisor gives me,” the dentist confirms. “For this reason alone, I would definitely recommend to any founders of a new business that they turn to Steinbeis for professional consulting. And one should never underestimate how much the critical eye of a third party can improve upon the intended project.”