Life Outside the Box: Coaching Entrepreneurs
Raechel Pefanis, BA, MDiv, MSW, RSW
IFC Certified Professional Coach (ACC)
When the entrepreneurship bug bites, it is hard to be unbitten. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 13% of us decide to strike out and see if we can do our product or service better than what’s already out there.
Entrepreneurs tend to be excitable, outside-the-box thinkers who have surprisingly successful track records with ideas that others can’t even imagine trying. Where others see frightful risk, the entrepreneur sees potential. Where others see a overwhelm, entrepreneurs tend to see excitement. And for most true entrepreneurs, they will hold more than one business in hand over the course of their lifetimes, a feather in their caps. Entrepreneurs are high stakes players, and to avoid the total destruction that these high stakes games can result in, they will have to set up contingencies and safety nets that allow them the mistakes and setbacks that will eventually come with serial entrepreneurism. Coaching with this type of person will usually centre on a number of themes.
Follow through: Entrepreneurs are people who are future-oriented (as opposed to present or past) and who tend to load their energy at the front end of their projects. They are great at seeing a new venture, getting it stared, and pouring in the hard work that it will take to get done. But this type are in their weaknesses when it comes to the final steps of the job. Having designed the car and created it’s power, these types often have a hard time remembering to keep the wheels from coming off on projects that were imagined a long time ago.
Care for others…and self: The coach has one daunting struggle ahead of them when they begin work with an entrepreneur, and that is the tall task of convincing their entrepreneurial client that they and those around them have finite resources and need times of restoration. Tending to push themselves far harder than most others, entrepreneurs will squeeze every drop of effort, cash and goodwill out of those around them, and may make critical missteps in doing so. And, even if they do learn to hit the brakes with others, they often fail to do so for themselves. Coaching along these lines will mean becoming the “beautiful enemy” which is to be the voice willing to push back against the client sometimes. Entrepreneurs will generally find that they can take a lot of people away with their good, compelling ideas. The coach will often become the one that holds them accountable to reasonable timelines for work, paying attention to non work priorities, and perhaps the most important fallout these clients will face; the temptation to negatively label themselves or others for less than 100% energy 100% of the time.
Self-respect: Entrepreneurs often need a coach in their corner to teach self-trust and self-acceptance. Often tending to naturally surround themselves with cautious and critical others, the coach will help the entrepreneur to learn to trust their instincts. They will often help to create a space for the client in which to learn that:
Mistakes are part of the gig, and serve as ways to iterate the product and service rather than as weapons to use against the self
There are differences in quality between people, and not all will be as eager to please as the entrepreneur them self. Entrepreneurs must learn the character discernment that leads to careful choices in partners, key players and critical staff positions
Necessary endings will come. They must learn how to spot that it is time to move on, in order to preserve the gifts of entrepreneurship, building sustainability through other people and system.