Free 30 Minute Mentoring Session for Entrepreneurs or Would-be Entrepreneurs!
Keep reading for details of how to book your free 30-minute mentoring session with Charlotte, who is offering 48 back-to-back half hour sessions from midnight tonight until midnight tomorrow night, as part of Startup Day.
As the Founder and CEO of The Change Gang I was recently asked for my opinions on how mentoring, coaching and consultancy can work for entrepreneurs and small businesses. We offer a variety of coaching and consultancy services in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Health, Fundraising and Education. I have worked with students from The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, Doug Richards School for Creative Startups and work with many of the entrepreneurs based in tech city. Some of the relationships have worked really well whilst others haven’t been as successful. It got me thinking about the key ingredients for a successful relationship and a maximum return on investment on the services so many of us invest in at the early stages of our businesses.
When reflecting upon my career which has been full of ups and down, successes, challenges and the odd outright failure I realise the huge amount I have learnt from those around me. Only a handful of the people who have really shaped my journey have been defined as ‘coaches’ or ‘mentors’. It is amazing the amount you can learn from the people if you are prepared to open your eyes and ears. I have learnt huge amounts from members of my team, my friends in completely different industries and even my boyfriend, who only ever gets in trouble if he tries to help me (but continues on trying to support me, regardless of my outbursts of frustration!).
I think the true value in coaching comes from the coachee rather than the coach.
As a coach and mentor myself, I can tell you that it really is quite simple - ask some questions, interpret the answers and then give them back to your client or student with a little bit of objectivity, clarity and insight. Coaching is often about helping people think clearly, encouraging them to see the wood for the trees and providing them with some sense of priority and focus. When you are on the rollercoaster ride that is a business or simply a career path or life journey, whoever you are and whatever stage of your life you may be at, it is likely that you will need someone to provide you with this clarity.
Just like romantic love, when you fall in love with your business, you start making excuses for its dirty habits, ignoring its weaknesses and, if you are anything like me, think you can change and fix things that are really problematic.
In my mind, a coach is just like your protective best friend who is trying to make you see things clearly and give you the confidence to make the right decisions.
As someone who is stubborn, single minded, determined and never listen to my friends when they are trying to get me to get rid of the bad boy and opt for the lovely one, it is hard to be coached and, moreover, it is hard to be coached effectively. I do not like people telling me what to do. I do not like people thinking they know better than I do and I can not stand it when I have to tell others they were right and I was wrong. As you can imagine, I find being a coachee a real challenge and I have moved from one amazing coach to another because actually, I wasn’t prepared to look in the mirror, hard, and make change for myself. I was in business because I didn’t want to be told, because I thought I knew best and because really, I wasn’t mature enough to learn. I think lots of people start off in business because they can’t be told and it takes a true entrepreneur to listen, to learn, to understand and analyse their strengths and weaknesses and be in a position to progress through them with the help of others. My top tips for progressing yourself to a perfect coachee are here:
1. Give yourself time
For me, building business is a marathon rather than a sprint and you need to give yourself time to develop a strong relationship with your coach or mentor. Don’t pressure yourself into changing overnight, don’t rush the decisions that involve bring people into your business and reflect on what is said, what is actionable and what you are able to learn and develop on a long term basis.
2. Process alone
I find that I need time alone to process what I have heard or learnt from my coach. I can get in all kinds of debates with myself and find that using the valuable time I have with my coach as a sounding board for this is unproductive and leaves me more frustrated than when I went in. I find it is most beneficial to discuss key points or concerns, here thoughts, views and options for action and leave with key decisions to be made. I tend to reflect in a relaxing, laptop free environment where I am able to think laterally, calmly and without distractions or stresses.
3. Find trust and respect
It is important that you find a coach the you trust and respect but more, they need to trust and respect you. I have found the best coaches are those I have worked with in the past who are aware of my strengths, weaknesses, ups and downs and respect me despite my flaws. In return it is important that you treat your coach or mentor with trust and respect which means being completely honest, admitting when you feel uncomfortable and provided rational, reasonable arguments when debating with them.
4. Trust your gut
Almost all entrepreneurs talk about their gut instinct and it is really important that you find the confidence to trust yours - it will almost always be rate. You need to learn how to listen to this and become skilled at understand what your feelings mean and where they may come from. Only you can do this but your coach will help you reflect, consider and review your emotions and options effectively.
Whether you are adopting a new role as a coach or a coachee, I think it is important that you bear the points in mind, and allow them to sit at the core of the coaching structure and ensure they develop as your relationship grows. Being either a coach or a coachee can help you to learn more, develop relationships and understand more about yourself. It is important, I think, to start the relationship with small steps and measurable goals and objectives to ensure both parties have well defined expectations and continue to obtain value from the relationship.
I think it is also important for you to ‘try before you buy’. Whilst many of us are looking for a ‘friend for the journey’ it is possible that you will be able to get maximum value by taking a small amount of time from a variety of experts. This is a small ask from both the coach and the coachee and leaves opportunity for the relationship to develop as your business progresses. It is a huge honour, as a coach and mentor to be able to give back to the entrepreneurial community.
It is really important to me, as someone who has a wealth of experience in ‘starting up’ to remember all the people who have made my journey possible and pay it forward by supporting the next generation.
This Wednesday, 14th November, sees the UK's first ‘Start Up Day’,where people will be invited to invest in, support or create Start Up businesses. The Start-up community sits at the core of my being and my journey as an entrepreneur has meant that I have lived every day rather than just existed. I feel privileged to be in a position to give back and so will be challenging myself by conducting 48, half hour mentoring sessions in the 24 hour period between the stroke of Midnight on Tuesday 13th November through to stroke of Midnight on Wednesday 14th November. I will be offering guidance and advice on anything from Marketing to Mindset, keen to help anyone from anywhere in the world who is thinking, beginning or half way through their start up journey. Mentoring sessions can be conducted via Skype, or in person at the Startup Bus, which will be parked outside the British Library in London. To book your slot please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow Start Up Day on twitter using #Startupday.
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