Info

"Just getting started" is easier said than done. Here we have compiled extensive information and news on the subject of coaching, founding and business succession, which you can download free of charge. Some are more theoretical in nature, others quite practical tips and checklists.

SUBSIDIES (SELECTION)

COACHING BONUS

The IBB Business Team is a subsidiary of Investitionsbank Berlin and supports the establishment and growth of innovative, technology-oriented companies through subsidized coaching with the Coaching BONUS program. We have been a member of the consulting team since the beginning of 2007 and have since supported more than 100 projects, mainly spin-offs from Berlin universities.

INNOVATIONS NEED COURAGE (IbM)

The model project "Innovations need courage" promotes innovative services and technology-oriented start-ups. Subsidies are provided for consulting services and coaching in the pre-startup phase.

The project is supported by the Zukunftsagentur Brandenburg (ZAB). We have been accredited in the IbM consultant pool since 2007 and can support you in the initial application process.

ProFIT EARLY STAGE FINANCING

The IBB program "ProFIT Early Stage Financing", which has been in existence since October 2012, supports founders of innovative companies with a grant of up to EUR 100,000 who want to carry out an innovation project. We have already successfully supported several projects in this program. We advise you in the planning and structuring of the innovation project, the acquisition of the required mentor and in the concrete application writing.

ProFIT PROJECT FUNDING

IBB's ProFIT project funding program, which has been in place for years, supports SMEs that want to carry out technological developments, especially when cooperation between science and business is sought.

EXIST START-UP GRANT

The EXIST program of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) supports founders from universities: students as well as graduates and doctoral students. Thanks to our extensive experience and high success rate (over 90 percent) in supporting EXIST applications, we can not only help you formulate your idea paper, but we can also advise you on finding mentors and, if necessary, universities.

BAFA "PROMOTION OF ENTREPRENEURIAL KNOW-HOW".

The "Promotion of Entrepreneurial Know-how" program is aimed at all founders up to five years after founding in almost all industries in the post-founding phase. As accredited consultants at BAFA, we are also happy to help you with the application process and the search for a suitable regional partner.

OTHER SUBSIDY PROGRAMS

There are a number of other startup subsidies that are available to founders and established companies. These include, for example, the Berlin Startup Scholarship, the ILB's Innovative Startup program, and the Brandenburg Startup Service. We will be happy to advise you on these and various other offers.

BUSINESS PLAN AND FINANCIAL PLANNING

Examples of business plans and manuals can be found in many places. Not all of them are good. Many even cost money. Here are some tried and tested links.

A convincing and proper financial plan is not as hard as it looks - if you use good templates. Here is a tried and tested template.

You will receive a more comprehensive template during the consultation.

COACHING BASICS IN BRIEF

What is founder coaching? How does it work? What to look for so that coaching is useful and successful? Nobody should waste time and money. Here is a little clarification.

WHAT IS FOUNDER COACHING?

Coaching is the solution- and goal-oriented support of founders. In a coaching the founder is accompanied by continuous discussions in founding process, in order to arrange this process in terms of time and content. During coaching, the coach gives targeted feedback, but avoids direct interventions (advice, instructions for action), as is common in consulting and other forms of advice. A coach is a sparring partner. Through his experience, he can point out dangers, answer questions, provide assistance, and suggest solutions. A coach conveys which points have to be fulfilled in order for a start-up to be successful and makes clear which points have not yet been solved. Ultimately, however, the main goal is to promote self-reflection. So: All answers and decisions have to be found/made by the founders themselves. The founders themselves are responsible for advancing their founding process intensively and quickly and for obtaining the necessary expertise. Because: You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink! Only those who burn for their company from the beginning will be successful in the end.

COACHING ROADMAP

A coaching roadmap is the development of a master plan for consulting. It should state exactly which tasks need to be completed when in order to successfully implement the start-up. Success in this sense means starting a business and securing financing through equity, debt or cash flow. Attendance at startup-related events is also included in the coaching roadmap. The plan will probably never be implemented exactly as written down, but that's not the point. The important thing is to consider what support is important and in what order it should be accessed.

COACHING PROCESS

The initial meeting is about building trust between the coach and the founder. Basic information is conveyed, problems are identified, insights into structure, deficits and conceptual considerations are gathered and initial homework is set. Expectations on both sides must be clearly formulated. The intervals of the following personal meetings, telephone calls or video conferences should not be longer than two, maximum four weeks. At each meeting, the tasks that were set at the last meeting are reviewed and new tasks are distributed along the lines of: who does what by when? Brief minutes are taken of each meeting. If meetings are cancelled more than once or tasks are not completed several times, there are serious doubts about the founders' willingness to implement. The supervising institution is then informed and a crisis meeting is scheduled at short notice.

BUSINESS PLANS AS HANDRAILS

The business plan is the written summary of the entrepreneurial plan. It describes all essential strategic considerations and builds the basis for discussions with investors. Above all, it forces you to think through and structure your ideas. The strategic questions are particularly important: What will make money? Why can I solve a problem better than a competitor? Where, to whom and how exactly will the product/service be sold? Where will the money for financing come from? A coach will enable the founder to put his own thoughts into words. When working out the concept, he will give hints, restructure, and pose questions that are still open. However, the core must always come from the founder himself, because he must support the plan and represent its contents to third parties.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD COACHES AND CONSULTANTS

It is not easy to recognize the quality of coaches and consultants, the market is highly non-transparent, and evaluations are often only given under the table. Here is a checklist of good coaches.

A good coach/consultant ...

  • is contacted by the coachee/entrepreneur and not vice versa.
  • has been recommended by other founders/entrepreneurs.
  • offers a free initial consultation.
  • asks many questions and asks for time to think before accepting a mandate.
  • faces transparent and collegial competition with other coaches/consultants.
  • has years of experience in consulting, in managing companies and, at best, has founded his own company.
  • presents his fields of competence and preferred industries in a coach profile.
  • names reference projects and other coachees/consulting projects where one can learn about the approach and quality of the coach/consultant.
  • uses different methods in coaching/consulting and clarifies in advance the methods used.
  • knows his strengths and weaknesses and recommends competent colleagues for other areas.
  • has a mission statement in which he presents his principles and values.
  • has a large network of experts and is accredited with various institutions and networks.
  • has described clear processes according to which coaching takes place, e.g. preliminary information, roadmaps, interview protocols, target agreements, handover of results/documents, etc.
  • discusses with you in the first meeting which goals are to be achieved during the coaching/consulting period, how the tasks will be distributed and which steps will be taken in which order.
  • is easily accessible, keeps appointments and has enough time for your questions and concerns.
  • carries out the coaching/consulting himself/herself and does not subcontract to third parties.
  • arranges his contacts in a simple and uncomplicated way.
  • does not do your work, but helps you to do this work yourself.
  • encourages and demands reflection.
  • avoids direct interventions, but gives hints and suggestions for self-reflection as a sparring partner.
  • does not have simple answers and standard solutions, but adapts to your specific situation/special needs.
  • regularly and transparently provides information about completed consulting hours and their contents through time recording.
  • is a good listener and has social skills.
  • identifies problems and addresses them clearly.
  • never pressures you to do or sign things.
  • never sells you anything/talks you into anything.
  • conducts an evaluation at the end of the counseling process.

12 QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR COACH

Finding a good startup coach is not that easy. Here are 12 questions to ask a potential coach before handing over the mandate.

  • What skills do you have as a coach? Which things should I rather discuss with a colleague?
  • Can you recommend colleagues with whom you have had good experiences?
  • How many projects have you already coached? From which industries?
  • Which supervised projects can I talk to about your work?
  • Do you carry out the coaching yourself?
  • How much time do you have for my project and in what time frame?
  • How quickly can I expect answers to my questions? How quickly can appointments be made?
  • How does the coaching run and proceed?
  • Which coaching methods do you use?
  • Do you have standardized roadmaps/forms/checklists?
  • What network do you have at your disposal? How are contacts arranged?
  • How are time and consulting content accounted for? How can I transparently track these accounts?

Info and Links

There is no shortage of good brochures and instructions for all sorts of topics related to business creation. Here are a selection of useful links and information material (in German).