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How valuable is business coaching for startups and upscaling technology SMEs?

Updated: Feb 25, 2023



Business Innovation Coaching can be incredibly valuable for startup and tech business who are upscaling as it provides the guidance and support needed to help entrepreneurs develop creative strategies to grow their business.


Services provided by a Business Innovation Coach

According to the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), a Coach "helps a person or a group to develop and enhance their professional, relational and personal potential in the realisation of their projects and to take their rightful place in the relationship they have with themselves, others and their environment."


So, what does the Business Innovation Coach do extra or differently?


A Business Innovation Coach can help startups identify and prioritise their goals, develop creative strategies to reach them, grow their businesses. This valuable support might help you:

  • Formulate your company purpose, vision and mission, set strategic objectives and help you and your team focus on their delivery

  • Discover customer needs, group them into segments, and then find the "good fit" for your product or service

  • Design a go-to-market strategy and tactics, for instance to win your first pilots and then pivot the strategy to land and expand

  • Develop a value proposition, communicating and testing it

  • Investment readiness for instance by choosing the right business model and developing convincing financial projections

  • Understand strategic collaborations and how to identify and engage with partners

  • Organise the business for growth and optimise its operations.

The Business Innovation Coach, just like any other coach, uses a variety of models, tools and approaches to help their client come up with innovative solutions to their business challenges. They also equip clients to continue work, alone, once the assignment is over. Depending on their experience as a coach or an entrepreneur, they might also reference additional startup and upscale strategies, business models and growth hacks.


Whilst coaching services are usually understood, the associated benefits are still unclear to startup and SME leaders, particularly female leaders, particularly relating to the commercialisation of research or the upscale a business. I was recently invited to outline those benefits at the European Innovation Council (EIC) Women Leadership Programme Awards Ceremony in November 2022 and this is the long version of the argumentation.


I hope this article will help you understand the benefits of the transformational journey, through a challenging and supportive coaching collaboration, and also decide if business innovation coaching is something you might want to try..


8 tangible benefits of coaching

The tangible benefits of coaching that can be measured include:

  1. Increase productivity

  2. Improve teamwork

  3. Develop team satisfaction

  4. Boost client satisfaction

  5. Improve performance

  6. Reduce costs (2)

  7. Secure early stage pilots and grow revenue (2)

  8. Raise employee engagement and retention.

Studies on the ROI of executive coaching suggest that the coaching ROI can range between 221 to 788% with benefits in productivity and employee satisfaction. In a study, 53% of business owners and executives said the coaching improved productivity and 67% said it improved teamwork. (1)

Executive coaching ROI can range between 221 to 788%

When evaluating the tangible benefits of coaching, you might want to assess beneficiary satisfaction levels, learnings from coaching, the application of coaching, business impact - for instance revenue, revenue growth, retention, cost savings, efficiency - and finally ROI - including costs for planning, coaching, travel, the executive down time, admin support, telecommunications, facilities and evaluation. (2)


9 intangible benefits of coaching

It is well documented that a coach offers you a safe space for career and personal development, gently nudging clients into self-reflection, a crucial activity for leaders, away from the very busy work pressure in order to gain clarity and build resilience. (3) Coaching clients are less knowledgeable about the intangible benefits of coaching and yet, they are often mentioned first in the coaching debrief session:

  1. Boost your confidence

  2. Increase clarity

  3. Improve internal and external communication

  4. Develop emotional intelligence and empathy

  5. Raise accountability

  6. Promote forward focus

  7. Enable transformation and change

  8. Strengthen work relationships

  9. Find ways to manage attitude such as executive presence, stress, resilience or energy levels (5).

My clients regularly mention them as being as impactful as tangible benefits as they really boost their entrepreneurial skills which in turn, are essential to find the strengths and resilience to lead a business expansion.

"The most important thing is that you find a coach that you trust. Coaching is a very personal thing. Your coach motivates you to take action and gets you out of your comfort zone to initiate behavioural change. To do this, you have to be absolutely honest to your coach and yourself, which takes courage and is not always easy. To find the coach you feel comfortable working with, I highly recommend the chemistry calls.
Secondly, you should be opened to the coaching tools offered, some of them might seem unusual. Take them as an opportunity to learn something new. I was quite surprised as Virginie once suggested playing cards. So be curious.
Last but not least, as a coachee you should be agile concerning your coaching plan. I first did not plan to work on my leadership skills or time management as I was quite focused on sales and customer relations when working on my coaching plan. But I am very thankful my coaching journey with Virginie brought me there." Daniela Wirthl, Sendance Austria, EIC WLP participant 2022.

Business coaching is more impactful when combined with other leadership and performance improvement initiatives

Dr R.L Hughes research, measuring the ROI of business coaching taking the case of a start-up organisation showed that business coaching is most effective when combined with other types of services. It showed that "the degree of business impact likely is related to complexity of the executive’s role, and to the relationship between the organisational environment and individual performance. The implication is that coordinating executive coaching with other leadership development, performance improvement, and rewards initiatives should increase business impact." (6)


In another study, training alone increased business productivity by 22%, whilst when training was paired with coaching, productivity increased by 88%. (7)


Business coaching enables transformation and change

Based on my personal experience as an SME leader and the feedback from clients and investors, a huge benefit for businesses upscaling very fast and documented in research is to ""enable transformation and change": change the top leaders' behaviour as well as others' by generating self-awareness, re-evaluating one's perception and also forming a new perspective when the expected outcomes do not occur" (8).


As "change" is a constant component of any startup life, in a world that is also less predictable than ever before, isn't the ability to quickly "reframe" or "pivot" and be "change-ready" really valuable?


I would love to discuss how to get the most of your coaching assignment so feel free to reach out.


(1) Executive Briefing: Case Study on the Return on Investment of Executive Coaching. MetrixGlobal, LLC. Merrill .C. Anderson, PhD, November 2, 2001.

(2) Measuring the ROI of a coaching intervention, Part 2. J J Phillips, www.ispi.org

(3) The value of coaching, J. Gardner, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, 2022

(5) The Case for Executive Coaching, Andrew W. Talkington, Laurie, S. Voss & Pamela S. Wise. Business Magazine Chemistry Section November 2002

(6) Measuring the Return on Investment of Business Coaching: A Case Study of a Start-Up Organization, Dr. Richard L. Hughes and Dr. Richard L. Hughes Jr.

(7) Olivero, Bane and Kopelman (1997)

(8) The Impact of leadership Development Using Coaching, ISSN 1930-806X, Vol 6 Its, Summer 2018, pp 137 -147

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