I get so frustrated when I see a 4 day enterprise coaching course being commissioned that pays little or no attention to what makes the role of the enterprise coach different from the business adviser.
I witnessed one recently, delivered by an Enterprise Agency (so they MUST know what they are talking about) that started with a half day on ‘Building empathy and rapport’ (this should have been subtitled ‘Using psychological flannel to manipulate your client’) before going on for a full three days about ‘business planning’, ‘marketing’ and ‘finance’. It even included a ‘very useful’ glossary of financial terms that every enterprise coach should know (things like profit, loss, break-even and cash flow). Essentially it was a four day course of basic business advice re-branded ‘Enterprise Coaching’. SFEDI accredited which is handy, except as far as I know SFEDI have yet to do develop any standards for Enterprise Coaches (which makes me wonder how they can accredit the course)!
- The challenge facing the enterprise coach is NOT to provide business advice to people living in areas of deprivation.
- It is NOT to help people who want to start a business to develop viable business plans.
- It is not to sell them places on workshops or training programmes – even if this is what mis-guided funders incentivise them to do.
It IS to:
- make connections in communities
- become trusted
- have structured conversations that help people to uncover their aspiration and to get back in touch with their potential,
- help people assess their options and choices and make decisions that are most likely to help them make progress with their lives.
- to engage with pre-contemplators and to help them contemplate. It is to help contemplators to prepare for change and to ensure that they can access relevant, high quality and personalised specialist services.
Enterprise coaches develop people.
They unstick people.
They help people to grasp the possibility and practicalities of progress.
They help people to get in touch which their enteprising soul.
They build social capital, they put people in touch with fellow travellers and with sources of specialist support.
They work on shaping social contexts to make them more supportive of enteprise.
Some of the people they work with will go on to develop businesses. Others will go back into education and skills, some will remain as before.
After a relationship with a skilled and powerful enterprise coach each one of them will have been challenged to think about what they want to get from life and how they are going to get it.
They may not have had ‘Break-even’ explained.
The concept of enterprise coaching is being broken.
It is being broken by bureaucrats who believe that the best way to increase start up rates is to put watered down business advisers into deprived communities to push self employment and entrepreneurship.
It is being broken because the enterprise industry is exploiting an opportunity to re-package ‘bog standard’ business advice under another name and sell it to unsuspecting and ill-informed regeneration commissioners.
It is being broken because Reality TV and the media at large insist on promoting the ‘Entrepreneurship Fairytale’ in which all that is needed is a good idea and few hours with a business adviser.
It is being broken because we lack a brave, positive and long term approach to developing more enterprising communities.
It is being broken because we are not seriously trying to engage the disengaged in making a better life.
Anyone ready for a change?