Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in professional coaching but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nicolas Stephan, Co-Founder of SPARRKS Service GmbH, located in Berlin, Germany.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I’m Nicolas, one of two co-founders at Sparrks, a business coaching platform. We offer companies one-to-one business coaching for their talents and leaders with top management coaches for immediate upskilling and enduring results. We developed a highly time and cost-efficient business coaching format that allows not only executive management but also middle and junior management to profit from coaching with the best business coaches on the market. In four digital, 45-minute one-on-one coaching sessions, users work on their most important development areas, from leadership, to communication, and negotiation, amongst others. Our users enjoy the effectiveness of the format, the quality of the coaches, and the efficiency of the product. On average, users achieve a 76% improvement in their capability in the respective coaching area.
Our clients consist of large blue-chip corporations and medium-sized companies, such as leading consulting firms, “hidden champions,” and successful scale-ups.
Tell us about yourself
My now co-founder Jakob and I got to know each other at the global consulting firm Bain & Company, where both of us were Senior Managers. We had both been consulting on change implementations and developed trainings together. With deep exposure to personal development in the corporate world, we witnessed people become more effective leaders with the right coaching. In all our years of leadership development and consulting, we have personally experienced the upskilling and motivation surge that coaching can generate, particularly when working with some of the world’s finest systemic coaches on the executive floor. However, we also knew that business coaching in its traditional form was reserved for top management, given its time- and financial cost.
During one of our bi-weekly Sunday brunches, it dawned on us: What if you could achieve in a few sessions as much or more than you could in a classic string of 10+? My co-founder comes from a family of entrepreneurs and business coaches. I am a trained medical doctor turned management consultant and entrepreneur who has previously successfully started a company. So we just said, ‘let’s do it!’ Build an offering that improves leadership performance throughout all ranks, with minimum disruption to the working hours, but with immediate and long-lasting effect.
Each day I am motivated to further improve the offering with a team of dedicated Sparrkies. I love to read the stories of how 4 coaching sessions have made a significant difference in individuals and left a lasting, positive mark. I am excited that almost all our clients continue and broaden their engagement with Sparrks. As we bootstrapped this venture, I am super motivated, day by day, to grow it organically and sustainably into a leading professional development platform. And we are on a good track.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Having built a solid, growing business, including scalable operations with very limited financial resources, by constantly focusing on what moves the needle vs. what’s nice to have.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Shaping and fostering an upbeat, productive, and high-energy company culture even during times of pressure and fast growth.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find the right 1-2 people you want to start a business with. Be 100% sure about them. It’s more important than being 100% sure about your business idea.
- Make your business model and the underlying operations as simple as possible and start out with a lean prototype. Then listen to your customers and implement their feedback quickly.
- Be obsessed with your customers and over-deliver on their expectations. As a young business, you have a competitive advantage that you need to capitalize on as long as possible.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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