|Enterprise Evangelist||Enterprise Coach|
|Entrepreneurship is a good thing – you should try it.||Entrepreneurship is neither good not bad. For some people it is a wonderful life affirming experience. For others an unmitigated disaster.|
|We can turn your ideas and dreams into reality.||You can make progress in getting the kind of life that you want. My sole purpose is to offer you the help and support that you need on your journey.|
|We need to increase the start up rate if we are to change the enterprise culture in this community.||We need to help more people believe that they can take action to make things better -in whatever ways matter to them.|
|We encourage people to start business quickly. That helps us to keep up with our contract outputs – and anyway you don’t really learn about business until you are in it – do you?||We help clients start business slowly, if at all. We make sure that they have done as much planning, research and training as possible before they start and got a strong management team in place to reduce the risks of failure. If they have an alternative to starting a small business we encourage them to consider it – SERIOUSLY! We understand just how hard small business can be.|
|We spend a lot of money on publicity and events to attract large numbers (we wish!) to use the service.||We spend almost nothing on publicity. Instead we focus on building a great reputation (we know how to do this) and then encourage word of mouth strategies, referrals and clients telling their stories to gradually build interest.|
|We usually start with a bang – but numbers quickly tail off – unless we keep the marketing spend up. We refer clients into mainstream business support or other sources of support as soon as we can. Our job is just to get them engaged.||We start slowly and build exponentially as our reputation spreads. Within 12 months we would expect top be seeing 200 people a year with about 10% of them going on to start a new business. Because of our reputation we also get some existing business wanting to talk with us – but that is ok because we know how to help them too!|
|We do all we can to keep people engaged with our service. We pay bus fares, pick them up in our cars, provide child care and food to make it easy.||We do little to keep people using the service – other than help them build their confidence and self belief in what they can achieve when they work with us.|
|We don’t mention business failure rates. If we start enough – surely some of them will survive?||We monitor survival rates more closely than start up rates. We understand that it is business failures that establish a fear of enterprise and do most to damage an enterprise culture.|
|We design and deliver our services and interventions to deliver policy goals for number of interventions and start-ups||We design and deliver our services with the client needs at the centre of things. Our service is free of charge, competent, compassionate and easy to access.|
|We believe that primarily our clients need help to develop their ideas from a technical point of view. It is all about the business plan. The sooner we can refer them onto a technical expert – such as a business adviser the better.||We believe that the idea and the business plan is one small aspect of our work. More important is helping the client to develop their skills and their passion and commitment towards making real progress in their lives. Understanding psychology is just as important as understanding business. We develop the people – so that if they want they can develop their business ideas.|
|I don’t need to build a strong relationship – I just need to find people and refer them to mainstream business advisers.||It is the quality of my relationship with you that dictates how useful it is.|
In my experience entrepreneurs fall into one of two types. Either they are excellent (perhaps too good) at building their own self belief and confidence – or they are weak in this area – full of self doubts and expectations of disaster. Some communities are full of people with generally good levels of self belief and confidence. In others the opposite is the norm. In these communities the ability to build relationships with clients that enable them to improve their confidence and self belief is key.
Many enterprise professionals act as if confidence and self belief are the same thing – interchangeable words and concepts – but to me there are important differences. Confidence is a temporary thing, transient, malleable in the short term.
Self belief is a more fixed (but still developable) underlying trait or characteristic that may have been grooved for many years. It is our levels of self belief that dicate whether setbacks are seen as part of a consistent pattern of failure (low self belief; generally low confidence) or as just a temporary setback.
Most entrepreneurs will experience a loss of confidence, but their generally high levels of self belief allow them to see this as just a temporary setback, a blip, a one off. Not something to dwell on or let define their expectations of the future or their own self image.
Generally it is not too hard to identify people with low self belief. Their language is full of self doubt and negativity. “I doubt that this will work”, “I have got this idea – but I don’t think it is very good”.
It is much harder to know what to do about it. There are no quick fixes.
My first observation would be that most enterprise professionals have very little opportunity to do much work in this area because they do not have the time to build really powerful helping relationships with clients. The support that they offer is more transactional (think ‘inform, diagnose and broker’) than transformational (think ‘insight, develop and coach’). Their focus is on developing the business plan not the entrepreneur.
For those that do form more transformational relationships then working with both self belief (in the long term) and confidence (in the short term) are central to their effectiveness. So what sorts of things do they do?
- They help clients to recognise their patterns of thinking and self talk and categorise them simply as ‘helpful’ or ‘hindering’
- teach clients how to replace hindering thoughts and beliefs with helpful ones
- help the client to develop and use affirmations to improve self belief and confidence ( a good example of an affirmation for would be entrepreneurs is ‘all setbacks are only temporary’)
- help clients to recognise and take note of times when they succeed, when things go to plan and make sure that these are fully reflected in their self image
- teach clients to visualise success, to see, taste and feel success in their imaginations before they start to pursue it in the real world
- teach clients to focus on lots of small wins – what can we achieve in the next 30 minutes? 24 hours? This helps to build a climate and expectation of progress – which makes it difficult to maintain low self belief.
I know many enterprise professionals choose to ignore this part of their role. They see it as being counselling or psychology rather than enterprise development. They prefer to focus on the ‘hard’ issues of business planning and finance. In doing so many of them compound issues of self belief and confidence as they have little or no belief in the clients ability to succeed or little conception of their role in helping to develop an enterprising psychology in their clients.
The vast majority of time and effort that goes into ‘supporting enterprise and entrepreneurship’ is focused on developing the technical skills involved. You know the kind of stuff:
- cash flow forecasting for dummies
- how to develop a marketing strategy
- making money from your hobby using e-bay etc etc
On the other hand very few providers think seriously about how they help people to learn to be more enterprising in the way they think, in the attitudes and beliefs that they hold, an din how they develop the resilience that enterprise demands.
Wepromote the technical aspects of enterprise ahead of the psychological aspects – just about every time.
But it comes down to this:
You train someone who does not think like an entrepreneur the technical aspects of business development and you have achieved next to nothing.
You train someone how to ‘think’ like and entrepreneur and you have one! Bingo!
So let’s start to think hard about the way that enterprising people think, the belies that they hold and the assumptions that they carry – and lets learn how to help more people to develop and share this enterprising psychology.