Tips from our co-founder Dijana to other future entrepreneurs

In her Deutsche Startups interview, Dijana discusses challenges on the entrepreneurial journey, her daily start-up routine, lessons from past mistakes, and advice for aspiring founders.
Published on
August 9, 2023
“It is very important to have a vision that you believe in”

Founder's everyday life - does that even exist? “Hire people who are smarter than you and think about what you leave behind as a legacy – apart from what you earn,” says Dijana Galijasevic from Impact Hero.

How do normal founders start in a normal startup workday? How do young entrepreneurs really switch off after work and what would the up-and-coming company leaders wish they had known before founding their startup? We asked exactly these things. This time Dijana Galijasevic, founder of Impact Hero, answers. The Berlin-based company, which also owns Grow My Tree, makes tree planting and other impact products accessible and affordable.

How do you start into a normal startup workday?
There really is no such thing as a normal day. I start my day with a meditation that helps me become present and focus. I firmly believe that self-awareness helps us increase our social awareness. This in turn helps us to feel a greater connection to nature. My morning is blocked for 'deep work'. I spend the rest of the day with team and project work.

How do you unwind after work?
I like reading, listening to podcasts and watching documentaries. But I also like to relax by going for a walk – preferably in nature. I also like meeting up with friends and colleagues. It may be about other topics than work.

What would you have liked to know about being a founder before founding a company?
Take your time setting up your CRM system and do it well. Share ideas with others, enjoy their feedback, and embrace what you need. Wireframing is a very useful thing to convey what you want from others. Don't be afraid of new things, just watch tutorials and learn for yourself. Just try, fail and grow.

What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome on the way to founding a company?
Build courage, perseverance and a great team that suits you professionally and culturally, because it can be a rocky road if you want to do everything on your own. In addition, one needs a comprehensive knowledge of various subjects such as finance, accounting, marketing, sales, product development, but above all people.

What were the biggest mistakes you've made so far - and what have you learned from them?
As mentioned earlier, when setting up a CRM system, the most important thing is to take the time necessary to do it thoroughly. It is also important to find a balance between rational thinking and intuition. Data-driven decision-making is important in all areas of work, and building a strong, consistent foundation that remains independent of personnel changes is critical.

How do you find the right employees for your startup?
I think it's very important to have a vision that you embody and that you really believe in. My vision is that every company recognizes that it has tremendous power to do good. And that one day companies will be able to say to their customers and employees: “Every transaction we do has a positive impact on the world – with the help of Impact Hero.” At the very beginning I tried to win over people I trust. After all, we spend a lot of time with the people with whom we create something together. Interviews take a lot of time, but they are worth it because you can see more and more quickly who suits you and who doesn't. External HR support is also very valuable and time-saving.

What advice do you have for other founders?
I believe that empathetic leadership is the key to long-term success. Hire people who are smarter than you and think about what you leave behind as a legacy, apart from your earnings. When you have found a dream team, give your employees something positive to take with them. Show them that you care about their sanity. Shows sympathy and appreciation. Give away little gifts like a tree for a birthday or a kilo of collected plastic for Christmas. Stand out as an employer who is aware of the most pressing challenges and making a positive contribution to our planet.

Without which external tool would your startup practically no longer exist?
Our CRM tool Zoho is extremely important to us. We also appreciate Asana's efficiency in managing projects and use Slack for seamless communication. We also support Ecosia's mission and for some it's Wellsome, a resilience building platform.

How do you keep your team in a good mood?
A few aspects that help our team stay motivated and positive: We start our meetings with Mind the Minute, a simple mindfulness exercise that allows everyone to get in the mood for the meeting. In doing so, we leave the last task behind and do not yet think about the next one. Also important are:
Open and transparent communication, a supportive working environment and team-building measures, opportunities for professional and personal growth, flexible work culture, fun!

What has been your wildest startup experience so far?
A major challenge is our rebranding from Grow My Tree to Impact Hero and ensuring coherence and consistency. Funding rounds are also a hugely positive learning curve. We have successfully created a basis with our first financing by angel investors and are now looking forward to the next round, which we are currently preparing.

Read the article here.

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