What I learned from my role as a startup business coach

Only by letting something go can you have the chance to start something new. When I left an established startup a couple of years ago, I was given the opportunity to start sharing my experience with other entrepreneurs and businesses. Sometimes my role was to act as a caretaker CEO, other times as a board chairman, and sometimes as a salesperson. My friend Petri Kajanderi gave me the working title “Chairman as a Service”.

Only by letting something go can you have the chance to start something new.

Without guaranteed regular income and with changing commission models – and while being responsible for other entrepreneur’s financials and assets – one must take care to constantly assess one’s own values. Thus I went in search of a model where at the end of every meeting or engagement my clients could say with certainty “You have been useful for us today.” If I was not consistently providing value, what reason would they have to ask me to come back the next day?

At the end of every meeting or engagement my clients could say with certainty “You have been useful for us today.”

In certain projects it was clear to see that I was not the best person to provide the services that were required – and in these cases, it wasn’t wise to begin these projects with disappointment as the inevitable outcome. This principle helped me focus only on the projects where we were able to identify the true elements of success at an early stage. These elements may differ from what the client was requesting. In some cases, merely being able to complete the desired work is not enough if that work will not accomplish the client’s business goals.

This principle helped me focus only on the projects where we were able to identify the true elements of success at an early stage.

In my current role at Axenon, we’re helping Salesforce customers achieve maximal return on their investment, and helping Salesforce users achieve outstanding results through making Salesforce work for them – not the other way around. The philosophies that I developed in my business coaching days still apply – and there is no greater reward than good feedback from the customer and creating a trusting environment for future business. Sometimes this may require some modification of hours and of billing, but this true success is only achieved through open, long lasting relationships built on trust – which are surely what our clients are looking for.

There is no greater reward than good feedback from the customer

While today, our clients are generally much larger than those from by coaching days, that initial philosophy remains. I also believe that Finland’s emerging startup culture will emphasize and reward those of us who measure our value by what we provide for our customers, not by the amount of hours we bill.

Interested in hearing how Axenon can help you sell better, smarter, and easier? Drop your contact details into the form below and I’ll be in touch!

Samuli Rantala

Samuli Rantala

Country Manager at Axenon Oy
Samuli Rantala has previously worked for several growth companies in coach and mentor roles and is also a Venture Program Mentor at Aalto University. As part of Axenon Nordic, Samuli helps clients and users get excited about customer relationship management, enabling them to unlock the full potential of Salesforce.
Samuli Rantala