Why do Start-ups need Business Coaching? It is often thought that start-up founders get enough advices from investors and mentors, and they don't need more of it

By Mahesh Balani

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If you are a start-up founder, you are probably thinking, "so in addition to investors, incubators, accelerators, community managers, mentors, experts, I now have to work with a coach??" Hopefully, after you are done reading this article, the need to engage with a coach will be a compelling one.

Coach Draws the Roadmap to Achieve Goals

What enables CEOs of very large and very successful corporations drive stellar results year after year? What differentiates successful leaders from the rest of the pack? What do BU heads, managing directors, and other senior leaders in these companies do differently? Working with a coach is among the other very key ingredients to this successful formula.

The coach usually works with the CEO and other leaders in the organization, helping her/him define objectives and goals – either personal or for the business. A coach also draws a roadmap to achieve the goals and holds the leader accountable for those actions.

Coaching Provides an Environment Based on Confidentiality

While the concept of coaching itself may sound simple, the real power of the approach is in what the coach brings to the engagement.

Coaching provides an environment based on complete confidentiality. It is a non-judgmental approach based on active listening and questioning skills.

Such an environment is usually not available to a leader within the organization, not for the lack of intent but inherent challenges in organizational design, performance pressures, and a very complex and dynamic market in which global enterprises must play these days.

Lack of Awareness

So what's the reason start-up founders don't work with a coach? Quite simply it is the general lack of awareness of the coaching framework and how it benefits leaders and businesses. It is also because founders are expected to be getting enough advice from investors and mentors, and they don't need more of it. Or maybe they will get a coach when the business grows to a larger scale and they have time to then work with a coach.

In sports, Coaching is Required to Improve One's Game

Drawing a sporting analogy, it can be said that an amateur understands the necessity to work with a coach as much as a professional sportsperson does. It is seen as a way to get an edge in improving one's game and be able to climb up in rankings.

If you are a founder of a start-up or a small enterprise, you are probably like that amateur sportsperson who is looking to go pro. Maybe then you want to get a coach.

At this stage, it is worthwhile talking a little about how coaching is different from mentoring or training, and even counseling.




Set duration of engagement, although the relationship can last over a long term

Relationship is ongoing that generally lasts over a long term

Generally short term engagement

Formal structure to the conversations, usually scheduled on a regular basis

Informal, conversations are set up on an ad hoc basis as required by the mentee

Formal structure to sessions, scheduled in advance

Sessions are objective focused with clear action plans for implementation

Sessions are largely guidance, with mentor offering suggestions based on their experience

Sessions are based on a set of issues identified that need addressing

Focused on improving performance & outcomes and can be for professional and personal goals

Focused on overall personality of the mentee and covers all aspects of their lives

Focused on solving deep-rooted issues that are psychological in nature

Largely future focused, past analysis only as needed

Since this is more long term, it can cover past and future

Requires diving into past issues and problems associated with events/triggers from the past

Involves a 360 view of stakeholders, especially in a professional context

The mentor is a guide and usually in a position of influence that can help in professional advancement

Strictly with the individual with very rare involvement from other stakeholders

If you are an entrepreneur getting a good business coach could make that difference between making it and making it great. To help you make up your mind here is advice from 2 entrepreneurs you may have heard of…

Bill Gates, Microsoft "Everyone should have a coach"

Eric Schmidt, Google "The best advice I have ever got was to get a coach"

Wavy Line
Mahesh Balani

Business Coach

Mahesh is a seasoned business leader with over 20 years experience in building and growing global businesses. As an Executive Coach for professionals and business owners, he has worked closely with several individuals in defining their professional and personal goals.

He has also coached and mentored global teams to deliver high impact results for customers across services and manufacturing. He is a GE certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.

Mahesh is also a Partner with Anthill Ventures where he manages innovation programs bringing startups and enterprises together to co-innovate. He conducts a number of workshops focused on helping startups scale, and is active in coaching & mentoring entrepreneurs. He is an active speaker and writer on the startup ecosystem. 

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