Since the beginning of my start-up coaching practice, I have often had to explain my profession. Friends, family, former university colleagues and business partners; they all asked me one day about my work.
Sometimes I would have liked to simply tell them that I am a pharmacist. It seems to me that it would have been much easier for everyone!
Recently, I realized that I was a guest blogger for LIME for more than 18 months. Time goes so fast, it’s amazing! Since the time that I give you advice in entrepreneurship, I told myself that you would probably like to know what my coaching practice is. I present it to you in detail today.
A non-standardized profession
Start-up consulting is not governed by a professional order. The profession is therefore not standardized, at least for the moment. This means that the initial training of the advisers is not predefined, but also, that there is a variant in the approaches.
Over the years, I built my coaching practice by combining approaches and schools of thought. Also, I developed my own code of ethics, modeled on that of psychologists. The ethical rules of psychologists are those that best apply to a role of accompanist in starting a business.
Sometimes ambiguous role
Many times, people have tried in vain to define my work. Over time, I built my little compilation of the most popular quotes. I share them here:
“Ah! Do you write business plans? “
“Are you a consultant? “
“Are you an accountant for entrepreneurs? “
“Ah, you’re like a kind of Dragon! “
“Are you an analyst? “
“I understand … you’re a mentor! Do you want to be my mentor? “
My favorite quote is where I’m compared to dragons. She makes me laugh because I’m so much less rich than them! People are trying to get my role back into a predefined box. They refer to notions they know to try to understand what I am doing. That’s normal, that’s how the brain works. That said, I laugh all the same, because none of these definitions is the right one.
The role of business start-up advisor can not be equated with that of the consultant, mentor, analyst, investor or financier. Even less to that of a business plan writer!
As if to make things even more complex, the words advisor and coach are often used interchangeably: business start-up adviser, start-up coach . Nothing to help!
A coaching approach
The ICF defines coaching as a creative thinking process designed to help the client to target and implement the strategies that will enable them to achieve their professional and personal goals. The coach’s role is to guide his client in discovering his potential and resources in order to put him into action.
The start-up business advisor uses coaching as a framework for intervention. This means that his interventions rely mainly on coaching, but without restricting himself to it. Within this framework of coaching, the business start-up advisor will also offer advice as he is also the expert in business start-up. He must guide the entrepreneur on his entrepreneurial approach. The adviser’s responsibility therefore includes giving professional advice on the viability of the business project and proposing different avenues for improvement to the entrepreneur.
That said, although counseling is a significant part of the intervention, the fact remains that coaching must always prevail, and without exception. Under no circumstances should the board supplant coaching, it is a golden rule.
This is the complexity of the role. Advice or professional advice must always and in any place be at the service of the coaching process, not the other way around. In other words, the board must always be at the service of the aspirations of the entrepreneur as a person and not at the service of the company to be created.
The success of an accompanying mandate
Now, you’re probably wondering what is a successful term for a startup business advisor. To tell the truth, there are several cases.
The first possible case is somewhat with rose water. This is the one where the entrepreneur starts his project as he had visualized it from the start. My role will have been to propose some improvements while helping the entrepreneur to put in action to deploy this project which calls to him. These cases represent about 15% of my clientele.
Since the individual must always remain at the forefront of the intervention, you will not be surprised to learn that some of my accompaniments result in the abortion of the business project. This is the second case. My client having walked in the process of accompaniment, he realizes then that the entrepreneurship is not the good way to follow to develop, at least for the moment. While some choose to postpone their project until later, others put a definitive mark on entrepreneurship. These cases also represent 15% of my clientele.
The other two scenarios represent about 70% of my clientele. These are the cases where the entrepreneurs have to rework their project in more depth. While some of them will do intense work over a very short period, others will take much longer to do this work. This is often the first pivot for these entrepreneurs. In the business startup universe, pivot is any structural change that involves a change in the business model, or a complete change in business model.
The pivots are cognitively and emotionally demanding for the project leader. Not only do they require deep thought, but they also involve overcoming some difficult emotions. For a contractor who has spent time and effort in developing his business plan, a pivot can sometimes be a source of discouragement. However, it is part of the role of the starting counselor to take into account such emotional reactions.
This diversity of circumstances makes, in my opinion, the beauty of the business start-up advisor profession. By placing the individual at the center of the intervention, we then witness the deployment of its full potential through different avenues. Then there are many possibilities that you would not even have thought of yourself as a companion.
An evolving profession
The business start-up advisor profession is still young. Originally, it was strongly associated with the economic development community. Today, she is off the beaten path and takes various forms.
Given that entrepreneurship is in vogue, the general population is discovering more and more different types of start-up support. While nobody paid attention to it less than ten years ago, the spotlight today is on mentors, coaches, consultants and advisors of all kinds.
In such a context, some pseudo-counselors provide start-up support services whose methodology has not been validated scientifically. These approaches entail a risk of significant harm to the client, both in terms of his business and on a personal level. I warn my clients to keep a critical eye on the different approaches available. Since there is no professional order governing the profession of start-up advisor, vigilance is required for the client.
That said, the evolution of the profession does not only lead to slippage. On the contrary, the profession is organized and structured gradually. I was fortunate to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Training Masterclass this year, which brought together startup advisers from more than 20 countries. New support methodologies are proving themselves internationally. Trained and competent coaches with innovative approaches abound.
For my part, I live the best of myself through my profession of business start-up consultant. When a coaching session ends and I feel that my client is progressing, I feel professionally accomplished.
I consider myself privileged that my job is to help people unlock their full potential through entrepreneurship. Day after day, accompaniment after accompaniment, I feel that I contribute to something bigger. A happiness lives in me and I sincerely believe that it is contagious!