Founders’ Mindset: Be Coachable

By Kate Sackman

No one accomplishes anything alone. No one. Not even Olympic athletes. They have coaches, teammates, physical therapists, trainers.  The same is true for entrepreneurs.  Every ambitious entrepreneur wants to build a big company, retain 100% control, and make a lot of money.  Having confidence in your intelligence and abilities is great, but understanding your weaknesses is essential to creating success.  Other people are weak in areas that you are strong. Accept it. And pick the right people with the necessary skills to complete the team.

Founders need advice and have may ways to find it.  Mentors, experienced entrepreneurs, trainers, and your co-founders all have wisdom and advice to share. The founder’s job is to listen to the advice, consider it thoughtfully, filter it, and decide.  If the founder is closed and stubborn, no matter what advice he receives, it will have no value.

In the StartUP FIU Empower Accelerator program, our job as teachers and coaches is to stimulate innovative thinking in our early-stage founders.  The short 14 weeks of the program are an intense period in which we help founders reduce the risks of launching their company and become investor-ready. During that time, we are constantly challenging the entrepreneurs to deepen and improve their research to understand customers’ needs and desires as well as their competitors’ advantages and methods. We ask them to clarify and test all their assumptions about their business model.  For the know-it-all entrepreneur, this is a waste of time. But for those who are open and wise, the teachers, mentors, and peers in the program are an excellent source of wisdom. The coachable founder will be open to exploring ways she had not yet considered and inevitably her business model, strategy, and plan will change for the better.


About Kate Sackman

Kate directs the Empower Accelerator at StartUP FIU and is a serial entrepreneur with industry experience in software, medical devices, media, environmental science, marketing and finance. She believes powerfully in the potential of passionate entrepreneurs when their energy is focused and persistent. As an adjunct professor at FIU, she teaches Global Social Entrepreneurship in the Honors College and Technology Entrepreneurship to master’s students in the Engineering school. Since joining FIU in 2016, she has truly enjoyed helping over 100 start-up founders innovate in all areas of strategy, business model, funding and pitching.