Inspirational companies

If you dream of going it alone but you’re being held back by fear, then take courage from these 10 brave souls who struck out on their own and have never looked back. Their professions range from equity research to running-shoe design, but one thing unites them all – they are masters of their own destinies.


  • Oktober 2009

Mirko Borsche

Sector: Graphic design/media

Location: Munich

Founded: 2007

Number of staff: 6

“All the time big ad-agencies are knocking on our door, asking to buy us, offering tons of money,” says Mirko Borsche (left) sitting on the terrace of his Munich office, stroking Felipe the kitten. Borsche, 37, founder of the graphic design company named after him, turns down all those offers, but not just because he wants to be his own boss. He says: “The main reason is, I don’t believe those agencies will exist much longer.”

In his eyes they are too expensive, too hierarchical, too immobile – simply outdated. Award-winning designer Borsche instead believes in fast, flexible outfits such as his own. Depending on how you look at it, he has six employees, or 40, or none. His entire staff works freelance – the core of his team, six graphic designers, is based at his studio, the rest he has placed temporarily at his clients. Those include weekly quality newspaper Die Zeit – for which Borsche acts as a remote creative director, looking at layouts on his laptop, visiting the headquarters only every few weeks – as well as the renowned Thalia theatre in Hamburg, fashion designer Kostas Murkudis and industrial designer Stefan Diez.

Borsche has worked as art director for magazines jetzt, Neon and SZ Magazin after spending his early years in advertising. He started his company with only one other person, two old computers and some Ikea furniture in a 20 sq m wooden kiosk that cost him €450 rent a month. “It is so cheap to become an entrepreneur these days,” he says.

Soon Borsche moved to his current 210 sq m office space with attached flat and a terrace on which he grows vegetables and frequently hosts barbecues for collaborators.

“Technology makes it possible to work from wherever you want today,” he says about the laid-back as well as highly professional work environment he has created: “I am living my dream.”

Why it works

01 Bureau Mirko Borsche is a great example of a new type of creative company: based on a loose network of professionals, a non-hierarchical structure, and mobile and flexible work schedules.

02 Borsche has learned to only do what he loves. He cooks for staff, provides a relaxed atmosphere in the office and lightly turns down clients he thinks do not fit his firm’s profile.

Three goals

01 “I want to grow old with what I do. In my business this cannot be taken for granted. I want to decide where my career goes and not have other people decide.”

02 “I want to create an international brand but still keep my business small.”

03 “I want to always have relaxed and happy staff whom I like to have around.”