People First: Swiss Startup Founder Mike Baur Divulges The Key to Successful Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs often start the journey of business ownership with a fantastic idea, a brilliant business plan, and a way to fill a perceived void in the current market. They utilize their cunning skills, tireless work ethic, professional resources, market research, extensive analysis, and other measures to ensure the success of their budding businesses. With their noses deep in contracts, sales figures, and expansion plans, entrepreneurs can sometimes lose sight of the backbone of their business, the people who have helped to start it, tirelessly work to maintain it, and dream of sitting shotgun on the ride to successful expansion. Thus, more and more successful business owners are recognizing the importance of a humanistic approach to business, through mentoring opportunities, fostering individual and group talents, and valuing the various roles played by peers within a business venture.
Mike Baur, co-owner of Switzerland’s mega-successful business accelerator program, the Swiss Startup Factory, recognizes the power of the people. With extensive banking successes in his previous professional life, Baur learned firsthand the struggles facing entrepreneurs while providing investment counseling, and portfolio management. Through his communication with Switzerland’s savviest business moguls, he was able to garner valuable insights regarding the various growing pains of startups. Thus, when he developed the need to scratch his own entrepreneurial itch, his own foray into the realm of business acceleration included a humanistic approach from the get go.
Their startup accelerator was in the business of helping individuals succeed in business, and though numbers, sales figures, and business innovation were deemed vital since inception, the notion of building a highly functional team was given just as much clout. Through working with several “cases”, Mike Baur quickly realized the success of his entrepreneurial clients was relative to the scope of their leadership teams, and not merely the brilliance of their business models. Baur also learned that an individual’s motivation for entrepreneurship often dictated their success, along with their perseverance and strength of character throughout their business’ growing pains.
As a fully privately funded accelerator, Baur and co-founders Max Meister and Oliver Walzer self-funded their venture for the first two years of business, choosing to forgo their own salaries. Through this self-funded method, the two entrepreneurs were able to ensure that their business was run exactly to their liking, without the extra hands in the proverbial pot that often go hand in hand with corporate funding. Thus, from inception, the Swiss Startup Factory was run with integrity, with the two co-owners spearheading their incubator in a way that felt organic, people-centric, and successful. Upon receiving equity returns from the successes of their initial clients, the company remained privately funded, and able to continue to operate on their own terms.
For the Swiss Startup Factory, and their respective clients, there exists an exchange of information, references, community connections, market analysis, financial counseling, and traditional business leadership. However, what sets the company apart from other incubators is their focus on the mentorship aspect of business leadership. Mike Baur has amassed several years’ worth of successful professional experiences within the realm of banking, and entrepreneurship, and shares valuable insight with his clients on a daily basis, providing motivation to budding entrepreneurs throughout the toughest of phases of business development.
Throughout the growth of Baur’s company, this people-first approach continued to ebb and flow as the company experienced exponential growth. With more and more applications from fledgling entrepreneurs hoping to be accepted to the SSUF program flooding his inbox, Baur decided to trust his instincts, and actually began accepting less entrepreneurs into the program. Instead of capitalizing on the popularity and growth of his company by saturating it with several entrepreneurial teams, Baur realized the need to keep the number of clients limited. In turn, this smaller number equated to more specialized attention, higher level of consumer care and interaction, and ensured that customized and niche attention could be given to each business, instead of a broad spectrum program vague enough to cover all types of business ventures.
As the ultimate goal of their business is to create an infrastructure designed for initial success, scalability, and long term growth, Mike Baur and his team take great efforts in creating customized roadmaps to success for their clients. This expansive roadmap features business aspects, such as ROI measures and profit building, but also focuses on establishing concise individual roles, team relationships, and human resource related aspects of successful businesses. Baur encourages his clients to forge strong business relationships with their teams, and to recognize the loyalty of key players, who may be elevated to roles of greater responsibility as the budding business begins to grow.
Baur, along with co-founders Meister and Walzer, have honed their emotional intelligence throughout their time at the Swiss Startup Factory, scaling their own business by actually and deliberately living through the advice that they provide to their clients. In turn, this practice-what-you-preach approach is what has made their advice iron-clad. As mentors who actually abide by their own guidelines, both men have given much credence to investing as much time and effort into the people who enable their company to function on a daily basis, as to the actual product that they are providing. Baur coached his clients to take stock in the same values and principles that he has found to be vital to the success of his own business venture, and continues to live this doctrine.
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