Ditch school before graduation and take a chance on entrepreneurship? Simon did it
Since the beginning of high school, Simon no longer liked going to school, and when he did show up at all, he was usually late, even though the high school was around the corner. When he came back from a trip to Amsterdam after the fall vacations, things got even harder. Eventually, the then 17-year-old decided not to go at all. "I just didn't feel like going to school anymore," he says today with a sheepish grin on his face.
While his father accepted this decision, his mother was quite worried, and his friends did not understand why he just gave up so shortly before graduating from high school. Simon himself didn't even know exactly what he wanted to do instead – so he first did what he already knew: work. Since he was 16, Simon had a mini-job in a beverage market. Once or twice a week, he would sit there at the cash register, sorting merchandise and helping customers.
Business-minded school dropout
Other young people may dream of an influencer career, a startup or their own cafe, Simon came up with a different idea: He imagined what it would be like to take over the drinks market when his boss retired one day. When he told him about it for the first time, he just laughed. But after Simon left school, his idea suddenly didn't seem so strange anymore. To finance the takeover, he looked for another job as a warehouse worker. He was still unable to raise the full amount, so he borrowed the rest of the money from his family. And his former boss finally agreed to pay in installments. A year after deciding to stop going to school, Simon entered the beverage market as a business owner.
What to do without high school diploma and studies? You can lease a mountain restaurant, for example
"My dad is self-employed. I probably wanted to follow in his footsteps a bit," he says. Ironically, the new daily routine wasn't all that different from the one he wanted to escape. Like school, the day at the drinks market began at eight in the morning – and just like in his school days, Simon still found it hard to get up early. But if he could come there sometimes only to the third hour, that was not possible in the beverage market. If he slept, finally the business slept too.
Even cramming remained a program. After ten hours of work, he sat with his father in the evening in front of the accounting department: invoices, insurance policies, documents from the tax office. He had not been prepared for any of this at school. Now he studied more eagerly than before – the discipline came with the motivation for his own store.
At the beginning, he worked six days a week, took no vacation and hardly ever went to parties. Only gradually did things become more relaxed, he hired temporary help – even a few of his friends started working for him. In the second year, one of his brothers joined the business. Together they developed further ideas: a stand at street festivals or grilled fish in front of the beverage market for customers. The business went so well that after just three years he had paid off his debts completely, says Simon.
Simon actually wanted to get involved in Munich's nightlife with a bar – but it turned out quite differently
A year later, he decided to turn the beverage market over entirely to his brother. He traveled around the world for six months, then returned and was faced again with the question: What do I do now?? Finally, he came across an ad: At Sendlinger Tor – right in the middle of downtown Munich – a bar was being leased out. Gastronomy was always Simon's big goal, he wanted the store. Together with his friend Norbert, he wrote a concept and successfully applied for a private loan. But an hour before signing the contract, the bar went to a competitor. Instead of taking part in Munich's nightlife, Simon first went to his grandmother in Ruhpolding in the Chiemgau Alps. Bored, he searched a real estate website for listings in the area and came across an ad: "Mountain inn for lease" – zero pictures. Simon made an appointment to visit the place, actually just as a joke, after all he and Norbert wanted to open an urban bar and not a restaurant in a natural idyll. But the decision was made quickly: They wanted to lease the Alm. The panoramic view and the old tiled stove in the guest room were just too beautiful.
Now Simon and Norbert are managing directors of the inn "Brandler Alm". They had only one month until the opening. The kitschy decoration of hearts and animals had to disappear, a chef and waiters had to be found and the menu had to become more "Bavarian". In addition to the venison, which comes from local hunters, handmade spaetzle can now be found on it. Vegetables and herbs grow in the large garden.
If you don't get anything, you become an innkeeper – that's what they used to say in the old days. Simon sees it differently
In the beginning they also had older staff, today they are all Simon's age, so around 25. He realized that it's hard when the boss is younger than the employees. Now there are some old friends in the team again. "We cook on a gastro level, but still among friends, which is awesome," he says happily.
"If I had just gone through with it back then, I would now have a high school diploma," says Simon looking back. Despite all his success, he realized that without an education or a high school diploma, you usually have to take detours in order to implement projects. Especially when it comes to financing, banks want to see a deal. "And almost every project stands and falls with it."
Even abroad it is more difficult to get a job without a degree. But he has just found out that the Chamber of Commerce and Industry offers a special final examination if you have previously worked for four and a half years in a particular industry. Soon, Simon could officially be a retail salesman and get a little closer to one of his next dreams: going to Costa Rica and opening an organic farm – with a hostel on the beach.