There is a school of though that says that enterprise professionals just need to be experts on helping clients with the business planning process. However in my experience the enterprise dimension is just one several that need to be addressed if the client is to be helped to make real progress. If the enterprise professional is to work effectively it maybe necessary to help the client to acknowledge and work on some of these other dimensions. As Iain Scott says about one of his clients (and I paraphrase) – ‘she realised that she had to divorce the xxxx before she would be able to make progress on her business idea‘.
Work on ‘other dimensions’ is not always this radical but it is often present and necessary! Some of the possible dimensions that may have an effect on your ability to make progress with a client include:
- their lack of experience in enterprise and entrepreneurship
- low socio-economic status
- poor quality of relationships with significant others (persistent negativity from friends and family)
- history of educational failure
- poor mental health
- chronic illness
- history of anti-social behaviour
- intimate partner abuse
- substance misuse
- poor accommodation (poor quality, frequent moves, homelessness)
- lack of social capital
- ambivalence about the future
- ethnic, cultural and linguistic barriers
- illegal immigrants
- asylum seekers
And I am sure there are more.
My point here is that unless we are able to help the client to recognise and address the multi-dimensional nature of their barriers to successful entrepreneurship then we should expect high levels of frustration and drop out.
So when we talk about ‘referring the client to specialist support’ we need to extend our referral network beyond the marketing and financial specialists to those who can provide a more holistic support service to real people with real multi-dimensional challenges. Once we have accepted that our clients require this multi-dimensional type of support it provides us with a range of further challenges in managing the boundaries of our own professional competence and practice.