In a world that is becoming increasingly competitive and ever evolving, having an innovative idea for a start-up can be as exciting as it is challenging. Whether it’s an innovative product or a unique service that breaks the conventional mold, the startup journey is full of learning curves and roadblocks that demand creativity and strategic thinking.

Author: Jose Piironen

Beyond the creative idea, running a business requires a lot of other skills: managing finances, understanding legalities, executing sales, to name a few. A start-up coaching program tries to disseminate these complexities into manageable sections, allowing the participants to grasp and implement these fundamentals effectively.

The truth is, that start-ups often face a multitude of challenges. In no particular order, some of the most common are:

  1. Deficiency in leadership: lack of proper leadership, team and/or management skills may lead to misguided business decisions and inefficient use of resources.
  2. Lack of capital: Many start-ups struggle to secure funding to help their business to grow. This can result in a lack of resources to invest in product development, marketing, staff recruitment, etc.
  3. Substandard market research: Some start-ups fail to thoroughly understand their marketplace and the needs of their target audience. This can lead to product-market mismatch, causing the business to struggle.
  4. Inadequate marketing and sales: many start-ups do not have the right marketing and sales strategies in place or simply don’t have the funds to execute them. They fail to reach their potential customers and spread the word about their business.
  5. Time management: start-ups often struggle with managing various business components simultaneously. There’s just too much to do and too little time. (Eisenmann, 2021.)

Overcoming obstacles

This is where the relevance of a start-up coaching program comes into play. The Business Mill start-up coaching program works as a catalyst transforming dreams into reality, providing a solid bedrock to passionate students and teams from South Karelia region who venture into the colossal business playground.

In the beginning of 2024, we piloted the program for the first time. We had a total of 20 persons with 11 business ideas in the program. The 6-week coaching program consisted of five themes and each session was planned to provide the tools and know-how to address the previously mentioned challenges. The themes and topics discussed were:

1. Limited company: Governance and ownership strategy

For start-ups in Finland the company form is usually a limited company. Therefore, we focused on the topics related to governance and ownership strategy as they determine the future of the company based on the goals and vision the founders have. Other very relevant topics are shareholder agreements, non-disclosure agreements, contracts, and continuous company development. At the very beginning of the journey the founders should also consider the distribution of the tasks between the team, board, share issues and cap-table, dilution, and investor agreements.

2. Finance

Our coaches gave guidance on strategies to appeal to investors, write compelling business plans, and formulate effective pitch presentations. The common financial instruments for start-ups are FFP funding, crowdfunding, venture capital funding, business angels, and variety of local public funding instruments.

3. IPR and patent strategies

Start-up entrepreneurs need to understand that their ideas, designs, logos, inventions, or processes are valuable assets that need to be protected. Understanding and integrating intellectual property rights strategies into their business plan will provide entrepreneurs with a solid foundation for protecting their innovations and thus a competitive advantage in the market.

4. Networks

The core benefit for entrepreneurs is to get the advice of seasoned professionals in their field, so creating and identifying the relevant networks is crucial. Networking helps in establishing such connections. Also, it might create opportunities like partnerships such as joint ventures, speaking engagements or sales while simultaneously creating the brand-awareness.

Discussion with peers or people from the same industry can often guide through the challenges they may have already faced. Networking, at its best may also significantly save the precious time.

5. Sales

Through coaching, entrepreneurs can gain insight into effective market research and sales strategies. They learn how to identify their target demographic, understand their needs, and develop products or services that meet them, without forgetting the importance of customer feedback.

I benefitted the most from sharing my own experience with business experts. Following the coaching topics with fellow entrepreneurs was stimulating by learning from each other’s experiences. I made new friends also, not just networking contacts.
Nilesh Tailor, participant and entrepreneur at Tailored Business Solutions

In conclusion, the Business Mill coaching program provides the tools and techniques essential for overcoming the myriad of challenges start-ups frequently encounter. The support and guidance of an experienced coach can mark the difference between start-up success and failure.

Start-up coaching program gave practical suggestions and hands-on tools for my business growth. I strongly recommend this program for people who are about to setup a business.
Dr. Suraj Jaiswal, participant and founder of Berrytron Oy


Eisenmann, T. 2021. Why Start-ups Fail. Cited 16 April 2024. Available at


Jose Piironen is a business advisor and RDI-specialist at Business Mill. He is enthusiastic about helping students, individuals, and companies in South Karelia region to reach their full potential.

Illustration: Eetu Karppinen

Published 22.4.2024

Reference to this article

Piironen, J. Unlock your potential: The benefits of a start-up coaching program. LAB Pro. Cited and the date of citation. Available at