According to a 2014 Startup Guide issued by KfW, 868,000 entrepreneurs took the plunge in 2013 and embarked on a new career by becoming self-employed. There are many ways for business startups to find support. In fact, at times, the choice is bewildering. Just a glance at the long list of conventional options when it comes to receiving advice shows that the typical focal point of consultation is the underlying concept of the setup – the business plan. A business founder usually just comes along with their special skills. The Steinbeis Consulting Center for Strategic Skills Management has decided to do something about this. It offers prestartup advice to analyze the more general skills (generic competences) of entrepreneurs drawing on the scientific methods of KODE®, the special instrument for assessing and developing skills.
It goes without saying that a startup needs a meaningful and viable concept. The concept is essential for finding funding and winning over business partners for the new venture. But what happens when the finances have been secured and the business owner has to start in their new role as a manager? Especially “one-man-band” startups often find it difficult to gain an overview of all the different areas involved in business and proactively move things forward. Entrepreneurs have to meet a variety of new challenges, that do not always match individuals’ technical competence. It is relatively simple to work out the areas of deficit, but it is much more difficult to assess the demands place on entrepreneurs in terms of generic competences.
The reason why it is essential to understand generic competences was underscored by a study conducted by FOCUS-MONEY, which ascertained that only 50% of vocational success is attributable to specialist skills and the other 50% lies in an individual’s skills of a more general nature (FOCUS- MONEY online, Jan 26, 2007). The generic skills of business founders only play a secondary role in conventional advice on business startups – if at all. Yet it is precisely in the run-up to starting a new business that the skills and background of the founder are so important. If entrepreneurs are clear about their generic skills (and thus their strengths), they will be able to precisely define their own areas of core competence in the new company. This will result in a business concept like a made-to-measure garment, based on a dress-making pattern consisting of the individual specialist and generic skills of the founder. The entrepreneur can then consciously decide on the areas where he would like to expand his skills. Alternatively to address the necessary skills, he may decide to bring in third-party support, hire staff, or both.
The Business Start-up Steinbeis Consulting Center uses the KODE® diagnostic instrument to analyze the generic competences of business founders. A biographical evaluation provides entrepreneurs with a detailed overview of current skills. They also discover how they acquired these skills in the past. Entrepreneurs can then create a personal development plan by comparing findings with future requirements, thus equipping the business founder with the skills to prepare for their future as a startup manager. Bringing in third-party competence and receiving early advice on business competence makes it possible to make quick decisions and not wait until there are clear deficits because the business is failing.
To introduce sustainability management professionally and keep processes moving forward – in a circular process based on the PDCA cycle – a company needs a highly skilled “carer.” This is a person who aside from technical skills, has a strong personality and particularly strong soft skills. To help in this area, the comet coaching – mentoring – training Steinbeis Consulting Center offers training for employees to become sustainability coaches.
Sustainable business has become more and more important to avoid or mitigate mishaps of a commercial, social, or environmental nature. Sustainability is considered by some to be the recipe of success for a global economy, focusing processes and human resources on targets aimed at safeguarding natural resources. Many companies and communities have already recognized this opportunity and assumed responsibility themselves by developing a sustainability strategy complete with sustainability guidelines, by introducing specific measures within the organization, and by signing off sustainability programs. One person to turn to for support with this is a sustainability coach.
The aim of training provided by the experts at the Heilbronn-based Steinbeis Consulting Center is to develop coaches with the personal ability to convince managers and workers at a company of the value of sustainable business, so they act accordingly. Sustainability coaches observe the behavior of workers without being controlling and become people to turn to with issues related to sustainability. They train and coach colleagues and managers on all issues relating to sustainability at the business. Sustainability coaches receive special training on coaching to acquire the learning, teaching, and communication skills of a coach. They also initiate and lead sustainability project – thus they play an important role in value creation within the organization.
Dr. Erik Müller-Schoppen
Steinbeis Consulting Center comet coaching – mentoring – training (Heilbronn)
Injection-molded plastic parts are the core business of KU-TEC GmbH in Laichingen. Founded in 2004, the company is owned by Ulrich Schmid, who is permanently looking for new possibilities to keep enhancing his business. The qualified electrician trusted the advice given by the Steinbeis Consulting Center 4IES, during the planning phase of a new energy-efficient production hall with an attached office building.
The planning phase began in the autumn of 2012. Working together with local architects and heating specialists, Ulrich Schmid designed a new production hall with the objective of optimizing operating procedures. During a short consultation with a Steinbeis expert, Schmid took advantage of discussing and analyzing the extremely high energy costs at the time. The results of the analysis motivated him to adapt his plans, this time focusing more on aspects of energy efficiency. In an initial consultation, sponsored through a development program offered by the KfW Bank, the Steinbeis Consulting Center 4IES took stock of all energy consumers to then determine and point out potential energy savings. Heinz Pöhler, director of the Steinbeis Consulting Center 4IES, developed and implemented a sustainable energy supply concept together with heating and refrigeration engineers and electricians.
The installed solar panels supply the needed energy for cooling purposes in the production plant, especially during summer. The originally planned heating system was no longer required. Instead, waste heat from production is now stored in energy storage units. The underfloor heating and a newly installed hybrid cooling tower also regulate the necessary heat and cooling requirements. The existing and energy-intensive compression refrigeration system will now only be used on really hot summer days. An energy management system monitors and optimizes energy consumption in production and secondary systems.
The new measures will allow KU-TEC to reduce energy costs by roughly 34%. Herewith the company also made an important contribution to safeguarding jobs in a rural area.