Mr Schulze, what makes self-employment so attractive?
Being able to make your dreams a reality. Self-employment gives me the freedom to do what I can do and what I want to do.
In 2009, you established your ice cream brand, “Ice Guerilla”. How did you reach that point?
Everything started with the fact that I gave up my steady job as a sergeant in the German armed forces in order to revive the boarded-up cinema in my hometown of Beeskow. The cinema has three screens and an ice cream café. And I thought, if we’re going to sell ice cream, we should make it ourselves – and that’s how “Ice Guerilla” came into being.
The name sounds vaguely martial. How challenging was it to start your own business?
Taking the plunge in and of itself wasn’t so difficult; you just have to consider the consequences at an early stage. It’s been my experience that if you want to be self-employed, you should be ready to turn your life completely upside down. For me, though, that was a positive experience.
You’re currently building an ice cream factory in Beeskow. Is expansion important to you?
The demand – particularly from big customers – has been growing for years. That’s why we’re growing, too, and we’re creating jobs in the region long-term. That’s particularly important to me; without the people here, we would never have enjoyed the level of success that we have.
What’s your dream?
One day, I’d like to be able to sell our premium ice cream in stores throughout Germany. That won’t be easy, of course. In that sense, the name “Ice Guerilla” also hints at the competition between us and the big ice cream producers.
How important are partners who support your work?
Having a sparring partner in business who recognises your needs is extremely valuable. If I need frozen blackcurrants, for example, and my partner says, “No problem, I can handle that,” then that’s even better. And if my partner says, “Tell me what you need; write me an e-mail, and you’ve got it” – well, that’s the best thing there is!
What’s your recipe for success in self-employment?
Believe in yourself, your idea and your project. And don’t focus primarily on money or free time – it will take a while before those things come your way.