The Path is coming into focus:

The path is coming into focus

In my current coaching work, I have the privilege of working with a number of new entrepreneurs who are trying to set up low cap start ups.

They all come from very different backgrounds and life experiences -none of whom fit the mental image of the typical entrepreneurial stereotype you form when someone announces themselves as an “entrepreneur”.

They are also not looking to set up in the IT Industry, or in any new industry area attached to renewables, or crypto currency or any other hip new development yet to establish itself.

Most have business ideas on bog standard industry areas and markets where more established competitors are settled and in mature phases of their business models with known brands and clear market presence on social media platforms and cash in the bank.

Most of my candidates in the early stages of their development journey, are not even aware that these businesses or existential risk exist.

I am working with them because they applied for Government support to establish their business and have met the eligibility criteria to be accepted into the program. Their business idea has to pass through a fairly basic SWOT Analysis process and thensurvive a basic bench top audit by approved program analysis – some of whom have very deep industry experience and an impressive resume to match. It is the job of the analyst to provide an informed judgement on the likelihood of the business to meet various “success indicators” – the main criteria being the the business is actually launched, established and still operating in 12 months time and is cash flow positive.

Its not that I am unexpectedly unearthing the next Elon Musk or Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos, it is more that I am helping candidates realise their goals and ambitions which in turn provokes a degree of personal growth and development which quickly outgrows the narrow confines of the program design. We move from the “establish a business” outcome to something more dynamic and far broader in appeal as candidates begin to take more responsibly for their goals and ambitions and their increasing confidence in their own abilities. Rather than just give up when they realise that their business idea does not identify and solve a market need, or that the competitor research realises a more effective business model in play, they pivot and use “design thinking” and “agile leadership” to leverage what they have learnt and find new ways of identifying and meeting market needs. It is truly “teaching an entrepreneur to fish” stuff.

The relationship with my candidates begin with my role as an analyst, then as an educator/trainer/assessor, then as a mentor and then as a business coach. It isn’t the easiest of professional role transitions but it has given me an insight into the transformations that occur when the inner entrepreneur is coaxed out in unlikely candidates. I have been an educator and trainer for more than 25 years and I have had numerous rewarding and soul enriching experiences in a range of different organisations in different countries – but coaxing entrepreneurs out into the light is fast becoming one of my most rewarding experiences.

The value of the coaching approach in this process deeply listening to the candidate and working the “why” until emphatic goals emerge – which are often completely different to the goals first started in their first draft business plan. I have been using design thinking and the agile development approach mostly (as well as all the other coaching tools) but its helping candidates to capture the creative energy of their inner entrepreneur that the real epiphanies and moments of joy are realised.

I get to follow the development of my candidates for another 12 months and I am really excited about the journey ahead.

The tribal call of Agile Coaching is becoming louder.