Interview of Antoine MARTIN from Impactified, the online coaching and self-coaching platform dedicated to entrepreneurs
Antoine Martin, you are one of the founders of Impactified.com – what is Impactified’s purpose?
Antoine Martin: Impactified is an online coaching and self-coaching platform dedicated to entrepreneurs, executives and people who need to give their personal or business life a good push.
Long story short, we connect people with coaches trained to make a difference from a life perspective and from a business perspective, and if you can’t afford a coach or want to start working on your own we give you access to a series of self-coaching video & toolset modules you’ll be able to use without us.
Can you briefly explain what your background is, and tell us about your Co-founder Philippe Bonnet ?
Antoine Martin: Philippe and I are business coaches, but we are also entrepreneurs on a mission to make entrepreneurship and business management more accessible and possible for those who want to be the master of their own game.
There will soon be a billion business owners on the planet, but nothing equips you to become a successful entrepreneur. Not everyone can afford an MBA, and these don’t prepare you when it comes to building your business anyway, so we are using the Impactified platform to make business coaching tools and methods affordable.
On a daily basis though, Philippe and I coach entrepreneurs, executives and managers.
I worked as a consultant in the past, I built leadership programs and workshops, and I built a couple of businesses.
Philippe’s background was originally in the real estate industry where he built and ran large shopping malls for conglomerates. That wasn’t aligned with his values and expectations however, so he reconverted ten years ago as an entrepreneur, and then as a coach after selling his shares of the business.
It means that we understand our clients very well because we’ve been through what they are going through. It facilitates a lot of things and it allows us to challenge their preconceived ideas so their organization can get to the next step.
Clients of Alpha Prime are operating in different sectors, but given your core business, they may all need your assistance to enhance their organisation. How can Impactified start to help such clients and what is the 1st step of your mission ?
Antoine Martin: Business coaching is all about giving entrepreneurs, executives and managers a push when it comes to building and structuring their business from the inside, hence it can be used equally by architects, tech CEOs, trading companies, family offices, so forth and so on.
Coaching is a tool though, and it is really complementary to what Alpha Prime does.
Look at it this way: business optimization from a legal structure and tax perspective is an important topic, but how can you optimize a legal and tax structure if inside the company the business model isn’t square, if the org chart isn’t functional, if the cash-flow previsions are not operational, or if the business strategy doesn’t give you visibility as to what needs to be done next?
Our experience tells us that those who need help to organize the legal structure of their business also have flaws as far as the rest of the business is concerned – that’s where a business coach steps in.
As to the first step – we always start our coaching programs with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis which gives us a precise mapping of what’s operational and what’s not. We developed a No-Sweat SWOT analysis that our clients can use without a coach, however involving a coach is highly recommended if you want the exercise to go deep and challenge you on your business.
For instance, some clients identify no threat, or obtain great scores because they identify a lot of opportunities, but so what? What’s next? What’s the impact from an organization perspective?
Our business coaches are trained to make the most of the SWOT exercise and spot the issues that come out of it. They bring a unique perspective because they think in terms of business methodology, they know what to look for and they know what questions to ask.
Since they don’t know your business in the first place, they will also challenge you very naturally by touching upon issues you probably never considered. The exercise is a game-changer.
Can you give us 2 typical examples of existing or former clients who successfully implemented your solutions
One of our clients is a company based in Europe with an office in Hong Kong, and we have been following them for several years now.
At first, we coached the founder & CEO who then asked us to work with the GM and the CFO. Progressively, we pushed them to structure internally by creating a board (to ensure continuity in case the CEO isn’t there to decide) and we started to work with the mid-management on role definition, cultural difference management and leadership.
The impact is easy to spot. Our suggestions technically saved the company when the CEO had to step aside without warning for personal reasons – the internal board was operational and took things forward. Our cultural management facilitation also makes the team more efficient on a daily basis, while mid-management coaching facilitates organization, process development.
We do a lot of workshops aimed at facilitating brainstorming and group work (through design thinking), so we also organized workshops between Europe and Hong Kong to make both sides work together on strategic planning. The teams remembered the fun of the exercise and the team-building aspect of it, but they did come up with a tangible action plan that day.
Later on we also organized a blue ocean strategy workshop with the top management team to facilitate a strategic discussion on the company’s business model and value proposition evolutions. Out impact really takes place at various levels, but it is transformative by nature.
And another case study maybe?
A serial entrepreneur who runs multiple companies in parallel has been trusting us with his for the past four years with his business.
In his case, business coaching is a question of creating a safe place to think aloud and brainstorm with someone who is outside of the business. The coach is neutral but still knows the ins and outs of everything and therefore can challenge and facilitate out of the box thinking.
In the same way you wouldn’t go to a marathon without training or wouldn’t run a basketball team without a coach, this entrepreneur sees coaching as a permanent booster that allows him to be on top of his game all the time.
Sometimes the discussions are about the positioning of this or that company, sometimes they are about managing the shareholders more efficiently, or about creating internal processes to solve this or that issue.
The benefits are clear from a decision-making perspective: the client feels like they are not on their own anymore (despite having business partners who don’t challenge him), and decisions are made faster so there is a massive win.
So business coaching can complement the structural optimization from a business model and internal management perspective, to wrap up…
Yes, but I’d also add that it can be relevant from a leadership perspective as well – which actually works in parallel to legal, jurisdictional and tax optimization.
When a startup needs to raise money and develop globally, then coaching will increase their leadership from a market perspective because the coach will push the founder’s thinking in terms of market share acquisition and therefore valuation.
Beyond valuation, we also get involved with entrepreneurs at the top of global groups with entities in multiple countries run by over a hundred employees. In that type of situation, the need for legal and tax optimization is obvious, but the founders at that stage also need to affirm their leadership because investors and board members are not always on their sides, hence there is a necessity to think in terms of human capital and human management – again, that’s where we step in.
To use an analogy, whatever the situation, we (as business coaches) are not the engine and we are not the fuel either, but we are the oil that makes everything worth smoother.
About the interviewee: Dr Antoine Martin is the Co Founder of Impactified.com – the platform that puts entrepreneurs and executives with the coaching support they need.