When someone is starting out, knowing nothing, how could advice ever be anything but a good thing? When people ask me what the point of coaching is, I inevitably come back to this question.
Coaching differs from mentoring in that a coach hasn’t done the job of their client, so is in no position to dispense advice about how to do it. I think mentoring can be great, and has a role to play, especially in terms of industry introductions. But advice? You can keep it!
What happens when someone gives you advice? We’ve all had the experience. You’re organising a surprise party and one of the people you’re inviting chips in: “Remember to organise for someone to meet the birthday boy and for her to bring him to the event.”
Or you’re trying to locate a friend’s house and they helpfully say “Look on Google Maps and plan a route.”
“Thanks,” you think, “Way ahead of you.”
You’ve already done what they suggested. It’s not because you don’t respect them or are small-minded that when that happens it’s a bit annoying. In fact, every time someone dispenses advice it has a bit of that.
Giving advice is disempowering.
However kindly it is given, every time we heed advice, it squashes us a little. Being told ‘the right way’ to do things not only implies we don’t know, but worse, that we couldn’t work it out for ourselves.
Founding a startup is all about Working It Out for Yourself
So you don’t know how to create accounts? Or hire your first staff member? Or expand beyond Europe? It’s very tempting to ask someone who has done it before. “That person will tell me how I can do it,” you think. But the truth is, they’ll tell you how they did it, which most likely won’t be right for you. You either won’t be able to use their method, or won’t want to. You’ll have just as many questions as before you asked, and be no closer to having a method of your own to find the answer.
A better way
I’d suggest your main targets in a startup should be to learn and to empower yourself.
Don’t focus on the shortest route to having the problem solved. Focus on getting better at solving each problem so that the next is easier. Don’t know how to start accounts? Learn how. Or find a service that will do it for you. Or find someone who can help you solve not just this but other problems as well.
I believe coaching can help you to become more self-aware and thus personally empowered to solve problems for yourself. A coach believes you’re infinitely resourceful, and will help you to bring that out.
Your startup will love you for it!