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Innovation and good business skills are no longer enough for a successful business. At Jyväskylä’s Startup Factory, startup entrepreneurs learn to build an organizational culture where growth arises from the wellbeing of the entrepreneur and the team and the maintenance of common performance.

Jyväskylä Startup Factory, which rehauled its operations in 2019, is an incubator for startup companies. The 12 most potential growth companies in the region are selected annually for 24 months of coaching. The coaching consists of 12 different themes such as financial management, marketing, sales, and product development.

One of the themes is the wellbeing and performance of both the entrepreneur and the team. Coaching takes place within the Performance Program, a unique coaching program conceptualized specifically for the Startup Factory. Its aim is to instill a performance-enhancing wellbeing culture in the organization.

– In addition to having strong substance expertise, the team must also be able to use it correctly. If performance falls below par, the team will not be able to perform adequately for success, summarizes Henna Kautto, startup coach at Startup Factory.

– If you ask me, wellbeing is the cornerstone of business.

Henna Kautto, who has worked in the development of wellbeing at the individual and company level for more than 20 years, has seen a big change during her career. The concept of working ability has shifted from treating diseases and ailments to maintaining health and wellbeing.

A wellbeing entrepreneur builds a wellbeing business

Kautto knows what she’s talking about, because she, like many other coaches at Startup Factory, has a background as an entrepreneur.

– We know what kind of pressure a startup entrepreneur, typically in their busy thirties and with a family, often faces.

– Similarly, we have an understanding of how much the entrepreneur’s own wellbeing produces success in the company. Without an entrepreneur and a team that both feel well and good, there is no chance of a prosperous business. That’s why we wanted to make this philosophy an integral part of business coaching, Kautto says.

A lot of research has been done on the impact of wellbeing on the success of an organization. All results point the same way: the turnover will grow and the bottom line can improve by percentages hitting double digits. Roughly estimated, wellbeing return on investment, ROI, is sixfold.

Self-awareness and identification of own boundaries are key

According to Kautto, the biggest risk for startup and growth entrepreneurs is working too hard without a clear focus. Good self-knowledge and self-management skills turn out to be the most important in managing performance.

– The point is to recognize one’s own inner resources on an overall level and accepting their limitations, she says.

– Contrary to popular belief, it is not healthy for an entrepreneur to try to know and achieve everything. We each have strengths and weaknesses. While you may be able to overcome your weaknesses to some extent, it is smarter to hire skills to the team that fill the gap.

– Currently, the rising trend is mental coaching, that is, personal training services on the mental side. This is a great thing because health is not just about physical performance but also recovery, brain capacity and mental capabilities.

While wellbeing is above all an individual’s internal experience, at its best it is also visible from the outside. A prosperous organization feeling well attracts talent.

– Sales is a good example because it plays a key role in the company’s growth. It is important that salespeople perceive themselves as capable and have a good grip on their job. For example, they have the tenacity to work long-term in a situation where it takes a long time to get deals.

– People may also unknowingly prefer to buy from a seller who seems energetic and goal-oriented, Kautto points out.

Startup Factory concept produces results

The concept of Startup Factory, where wellbeing coaching is a very central part of business coaching, is unique in Finland.

– Of course, Jyväskylä’s strong and multidisciplinary expertise in physical development and wellbeing research is reflected in our operations. Wellbeing has been chosen as the spearhead of Startup Factory and it works.

Although the companies involved in Startup Factory operate in different businesses and they come from varying histories and backgrounds, Kautto says that significant business results can be seen already after the first two years of operation.

– One of our customers increased its turnover during the incubator from zero to 4.2 million euros. Another met its turnover and personnel targets a year ahead of schedule, she says.

– We are also being found by entrepreneurs who understand the importance of wellbeing and performance for their business and are motivated to develop. For example, 86% of the participants in a pilot study conducted two years ago felt that their sleep quality had improved and more than 60% learned to regulate their own workload better than before.

Kautto emphasizes that although the coaching involves a lot of physical exercise, various measurements and studies, Startup Factory takes a holistic approach to the wellbeing of the entrepreneur.

– There is only one wellbeing.

Read more about Startup Factory and Performance Program.