Platform+ People: Why Every Startup Founder Should Have a Coach
Coaches are widely accepted in certain parts of our society: think athletes, politicians and leaders of large companies. They often have coaches, mentors and advisors by their side guiding them on their journey to become better versions of themselves, and ultimately making them more successful at what they do.
Yet, up until recently, in other parts of the working world people didn’t speak as openly about the need to regularly work on themselves with the support of a professional coach. But let’s be really honest for a second — even when we are at our most successful, isn’t there ALWAYS something about ourselves we could probably work on and improve?
What is Coaching?
“Intentional change” is a process that involves picturing your ideal self, understanding your current real self, creating a roadmap for getting from one to the other, and implementing that plan through the practice of new behaviors.
Coaches guide you through this process using powerful questioning, holding up a mirror and holding you accountable. They are facilitators of learning and self-improvement by helping you to see yourself and practice doing something different.
Having a coach is no sign of weakness. Personalized coaching is one of the most effective methods of personal development because it’s the only way that ensures long-term behavioral change and the transfer of knowledge. I’ve learned that these skills are essential to becoming a successful and confident leader. And as Bill Gates already said, “Everyone needs a coach!”
5 reasons why we recommend coaches to our startup founders
1. Many successful people have a coach, you deserve one too.
You have a lot on your plate. It’s hard to simultaneously build and scale a successful company while also being a motivational leader. You wear many hats and bear a lot of responsibility, both for your business and your team. So it makes sense to have a coach in your corner who can hold up a mirror and shine a light on those areas that need a little improvement. The coach will be there to support you when you need it most, encourage you, help you get clarity and clear any hurdles to get where you want to go.
2. It works.
Numerous studies have found coaching to have positive effects, such as increased goal attainment, resilience, retention, engagement, motivation, workplace well-being and overall improved performance. It is also known to reduce depression and stress. Additionally, it can increase one’s self-confidence and personal insight, build management skills and help deal with organizational change. Trust us, it will be worth the time, energy and money.
3. A coach is independent and has no hidden agenda.
You may regularly turn to your investors, your board, your startup’s management team, or family and friends for advice. Coaches are different. A coach is independent and will dare to ask you critical questions that others cannot or don’t have the authority to. They are impartial and don’t have skin in the game. You can be open and honest with a coach and they will help you see any blind spots in a straightforward and respectful way.
4. Not everyone’s a born leader, but you can learn to become one.
By understanding yourself and being self-aware, you can better understand your surroundings and the impact you have on your team. A coach can help you try out new leadership strategies or help you make difficult decisions, which will ultimately make you a better team lead. Especially first-time founders, who have possibly not been in a leadership position previously, get thrown into the deep end of the pool. A coach can help you become the leader your team needs you to be.
5. You’re a role model for your team.
If you want to promote a learning culture in your startup in which people continuously learn, try to better themselves, and become more skilled at what they do, then you need to set an example. If you show them that you are making self-improvement a priority by investing the necessary time and energy, then they will be all the more likely to do the same. In the end, the whole organization will benefit.
How to get started?
Ask yourself whether you are willing to commit to the process. You are always busy, so are you willing to prioritize your needs for a change? If not now, then when? Here are a few thoughts on how do you choose a coach:
Start by asking yourself why you want a coach. What is the challenge you want to work on? What will it be like if you choose to do nothing? It’s OK to have only a vague idea at this stage, the coach will help you get more specific. Then engage with a qualified coach who has a proven track record for solving the challenge you face.
Always have a discovery (or so-called chemistry) call to learn about the coach and their approach. Pick a coach you trust but also one who will ask the hard questions and hold you accountable, not just someone you “get on” with best. Coaches are used to having these no-obligation-calls and are happy to answer any question you have.
Our Speedinvest People team is connected to a network of trusted coaches. Reach out to us via LinkedIn if you’d like to find out more about professional coaching, or maybe even get a recommendation for one of your own. Good luck on your journey!
The Speedinvest Platform+ People team helps founders grow as leaders and supports our portfolio companies with a focus on building engaged, talented teams and strong, healthy company cultures. Miriam Feyer, our Head of People, brings 11+ years of professional experience in building successful people operations in Europe and the US. Valerie Wiederkehr-Prundianu, our People Manager, is an HR allrounder with extensive experience working with founders in the European startup ecosystem. Together, they are a sounding board and helping hand to our founders and their HR teams.