Coaching in the flat white economy

flat white

By Martin Vogel

Ahead of our event next Tuesday on London’s dynamic start-ups sector, here’s some reading to get you up to speed.

The economics analyst, Douglas McWilliams, who coined the the phrase “the flat white economy”, has updated his prognosis for the sector:

“The mix of activities from software to digital advertising and marketing is now the UK’s second largest business sector, accounting for around a tenth of GDP. Nearly half the UK economy’s recent growth is attributable to it directly or indirectly.”

This is apparently driven by the UK’s strengths in online retail and online advertising, and by the supply of talented young people from all over Europe. An enticing area of growth for coaches perhaps, and one that is likely to throw up interesting leadership challenges. But, McWilliams warns, it’s not all rosy:

“East London is becoming expensive and overgentrified; rents for both residential and commercial property are pricing out the lower value jobs. South London is becoming the new East London but space is running out. Growth is taking off in many other parts of the UK – Leeds is the largest Flat White Economy outside London while Edinburgh, Brighton and Birmingham are the fastest growing. But if London starts to fail, growth elsewhere will not fill the hole.”

In short, continued growth is not assured. And, if the flat white economy fails, there aren’t many other games in town for the UK economy.

There’s great insight into the experience of founding a company provided by Alex Wood, who last year founded The Memo, an online journalism site. He’s written a piece entitled 9 things I wish I knew before founding my startup. It contains tips such as: don’t hire cheap, hire smart; remember you’re not a robot; and grow some balls:

“When it’s your own business you have nowhere to hide. I had to learn the hard way to be a lot more assertive. And something I think all Brits should be taught at school  –  learn how to say no.”

Precisely the kinds of lessons a coach can help a young founder learn more quickly. On which note, Silicon Valley seems well on board with understanding the potential value of coaching to start-ups and so offers some useful guidance to London-based coaches wishing to position themselves with the sector.

Glenn Laumeister, who runs a coaching business in the US, makes the case in 5 ways a coach can elevate your startup to the next level (the craze for listicles evidently remains popular in start-up land). Glenn covers generic coaching benefits such as: lending objectivity, facilitating team building, and helping leaders develop their own style. But he also includes identifying points of failure early, which is a critical skill for start-up leaders to develop if they’re to get through the obstacles of the first 18 months, from which most start-ups struggle to emerge.

Another Silicon Valley start-up coach, Anamaria Nino-Murcia, emphasises different qualities that founders might appreciate in working with a coach. She talks of accelerating personal growth and gaining emotional support, and has some nice quotes from founders with whom she’s worked – for instance:

“Your ability to personally grow faster than you could ever be comfortable with is the single biggest determinant of whether you will survive and succeed.”


“It’s lonely at the top, and it’s so nice to not only turn to friends or a spouse.”

All the articles are worth reading in full and collectively will take only a few minutes of your time. Read them and come to our session fizzing with ideas.

Start-ups and scale-ups: the new world of business
24 May 2016, 6.30–8.30pm
Space in Marylebone, 10 Daventry Street, London NW1 5NX
Members £36 inc. VAT; Non-members £42 inc. VAT

Book with Eventbrite

Image courtesy David Loong.

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