Business mentoring", a simple fashion effect of a "trend" semantics of our "startup nation" or a real co-construction approach for startuppers?


Episode 1: The tribulations of a startup startup!


The life of a startup in general is rather complex, uncertain, moving, stressful as well as hyper-exciting and sometimes a little magical, requiring permanently for its leader to be everywhere and all the time simultaneously, able to make decisions on the spot, with, as Damocles' sword, the fact that these decisions will necessarily have a great impact for the future, for better or for worse.


The main observation that we have all shared or experienced one day is, as a leader, our inability in these conditions to step back and have an overall look, to forge a development perspective, a real roadmap and safeguard for growth, which can prove extremely strong and/or complex.


There is a glaring contradiction here that is not easy to solve! Our purpose here is not to talk once more about the complicated life of an entrepreneur or startup but rather to focus on why and how working with a (certified) Business Mentor can, and most of the time is, one of the keys to a startup's success.


The subject is vast and requires to be divided into 2 or 3 episodes, of which here is the first one .


Let us agree in advance that, in the context of this reflection, the term "startup" is taken in a broad sense and refers to a company:

  • young or not so young (for example, it takes about 10 years for a "biotech" to bring a molecule on the market, without making a single euro of turnover)
  • that has little or no revenue, at least that has not yet reached the "tipping point" of the revenue level, the one that validates the viability of the project
  • which can bring a break in technology and/or usage
  • which is open and agile enough (especially its leader...) to rotate if necessary
  • who can be in any field and have any kind of ambitions and objectives.


At ADINVEST France, our experience on the field,  with our clients, has shown us, for the past 10 years (and we have also been a "startup"...) that the manager must possess the qualities necessary to manage a business in startup mode..:

  • his professional as well as personal involvement
  • his courage at all times
  • his overwhelming enthusiasm (especially at the start)
  • his ability to "sell" the fact that his idea is the best (and he is totally and sincerely convinced of it)
  • his confidence in the fact that "it will necessarily work" and that if it is not this month, it will be the next
  • the absence of doubt that translates into "yes, but we're different..."


In short, a pseudo euphoric state, which suggests that he/she is ready to move mountains and that he/she will succeed. Let us be clear, this state is essential for success, but unfortunately not enough.


Very quickly comes the moment, in the life of a startupper, when reality catches up, sometimes with violence (which can be salutary, like an electroshock); sometimes in a more insidious way, in small touches (which can be worse to manage afterwards, the "time" impact playing full effect at that moment).

This call to order very quickly requires a return to a very pragmatic attitude and the fundamentals of any company, a time when masks fall and people "tell each other things", including themselves...


Reminders of this type can come from any source, internal, external but very rarely identified upstream and independent of our wil l: a partner who fails, a customer who leaves us, the bank who cuts a credit line, the accountant who doesn’t do his job properly and places the company in dormancy (lived case!), a competitor or other,  who is (too) suddenly ready to buy the company, incoming markets that are coming up and for which nothing has been anticipated...


And in these phases, the leader comes to lack total discernment, drowned as he is by the tsunami that arrives right on top of him:

  • his enthusiasm gave way to stress and nervousness
  • he is alone to face the breakout and not knowing who to turn to ; he shares on his situation (when he feels the courage) with the first people he meets,  who will all give their advice! And as the saying goes, when the advisor is not the payer...
  • he wants to respond to the most pressing needs,  and very often makes bad decisions, as time plays against him
  • he scatters, forgetting even the semblance of BP he wrote at the time (in fact just a slightly substantiated forecast, with no real strategy other than to become N°1 in the sector within 5 years...)
  • he is as paralyzed, unable to stop this unhealthy agitation in order to take the necessary distance and take the necessary decisions, sometimes (often) even going as far as outright liquidation.


Let us specify here that if it is painful for the ego, liquidation is not necessarily a failure, at the very least it is an incredible source of learning (for the most resilient and those with a strong ability to rebound).


So, you may ask, what is the link with Business Mentoring?

See you next week for episode 2!

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