Global Entrepreneurship Week: Looking back on my transition to entrepreneurship
The “Global Entrepreneurship Week” celebrates its 15th anniversary. Entrepreneurship is celebrated in many countries around the world – 200 to be exact this year according to the official GEW website. This week was initiated in the US and the UK and has grown over the years. It is celebrated in 2022 from November 14th to 20th.
This World Entrepreneurship Week therefore celebrates entrepreneurship and its actors every year in November and it is in this honor that I would like to share with you my experience as a young entrepreneur, based on my 10 months of full-time entrepreneurial activity, since the beginning of 2022.
I hope that sharing my experience, my vision of entrepreneurship, can inspire or serve other people. They sometimes want us to believe that everything is so simple… So without discouraging you either, I would like to bring you a bit of my reality.
Fuzzy beginnings… In a (new) paradoxical world
After 13 years of employment, we wake up one morning, and for the first time, nothing is determined. There is no job description, no manager, no colleagues. We are not given any goals to achieve. Besides, you no longer have a fixed income, or those bonuses based on objectives that you actually liked when you were a salesperson... No more paid holidays, no more participation to help with transportation, no more cards with lunch money. In truth it is about me, and my personal experience which only engages me, so I will come back to talking from the first person ;).
By early January 2022, when I had effectively left my last company and taken some time off to recover from the madness of 2021, I had officially become a full-time entrepreneur. The project: to develop my services as a Certified Professional Coach, with my certification and my ACC accreditation from the ICF in hand.
I woke up in the morning and savored this freedom… No longer having to do a job that you no longer wanted to do. Certainly. But also the freedom to write everything from a blank page! An exhilarating feeling, and at the same time a little anxiety-provoking, especially at the beginning.
I was trained to become a Coach, but I had not been trained in entrepreneurship.
I know how to coach, but you still have to find people to coach! The luck I had was that in 2021, in parallel with my salaried job, I had opened my micro-enterprise in order to be able to invoice the interventions in schools that I was offered to do, but also to have a framework for potential customers who fall on me ... And I had them. At the end of the year, thanks to my network, I thus meet 2 new clients who allowed me to get started at the beginning of the year, and I was lucky to have a freelancing proposal with my old company. What relieve me a little financially on my launch into entrepreneurship, in parallel with the unemployment aid which I benefited from until August 2022. 7 months of unemployment help in my case it passes quickly, but it is already a precious support when we start!
Lacking skills and increased mental load
This observation of the lack of skills was quite strong at the start and I quickly felt under-prepared. Being in a support profession, and having experienced it myself in the past, I know the value of being accompanied. I decided to do some research, and I stumbled upon a French organization called Adie, which specifically supports entrepreneurs in starting their project. I then find myself following a 2-week training course with them, “I become an entrepreneur”. I thus meet other women with entrepreneurial projects, in search of support. We then worked on our pitches, our commercial offers, we learned more about the statutes, finances, communication, etc. This is an opportunity to get external feedback on your project, and to prepare an oral presentation in front of a professional jury at the end of the training.
In parallel with the missing skills, time management becomes a real challenge. How can we organize ourselves when we have to wear all the hats within our company alone? There are the hours when you actually coach your clients, but all this invisible time behind for administration, accounting, business development, communication, marketing, when you train in additional practices or for missing skills, networking with other coaches or entrepreneurs, or when we are supervised like me by a kind of Coach of Coaches.
The mental workload then becomes much greater in my opinion than when I was an employee.
The company, a real vector of personal development for the entrepreneur
I also quickly realize that I am becoming a major commercial target for many other entrepreneurs, with various specialties, who promise you to better sell your services, automate your sales, or obtain customers without prospecting for example… In short. The company becomes for me, a vector of personal development, putting into perspective all that I still have to work on personally (we are all "work in progress!"), for example in particular my limits and my ability to say "no". With all these requests for connection, and these proposals for accompaniments and after a few errors of judgment, I realize the importance of the subject for me. What opportunities to practice saying no :).
Developing your business is also a great opportunity to work on your identity.
As a "normal" person it is already a big question to answer to know who we are.
Now I wonder who I am as an entrepreneur, and as a Coach. And who are the people I seek to accompany, and why. The questions are many; but that doesn't mean we have to figure it all out alone. We must therefore know how to surround ourselves, and know how to be accompanied, while developing our capacity for discernment to find the formats best suited to our needs, desires and constraints, in terms of budget in particular.
Everyone has their own pace and everyone should be empowered to build their business in their own image
As in everything, people always have an opinion (often unsolicited) to give. This is how our entourage allows themselves to comment on our way of organizing our time, our working methods or our pricing policy... You are on all these subjects on a daily basis, and you are trained in your profession and you inform yourself about the competition, practices, etc., but the people you meet (who are often not entrepreneurs themselves) will always have a say.
My father still calls me sometimes asking me if I'm looking for a job... And no, I'm creating my own ;).
Fortunately, those around you are often also a valuable support. And if this is not the case, we must be able to find people who are, or people who share our context, so as not to feel isolated.
This is how in April 2022 I went to the Apéros Entrepreneurs for the first time. Which changes my daily life. In particular by having allowed me to meet people who share similar ideas or challenges.
You will be told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. But I think you really have to listen to yourself. After all, it is our project, our skills (in part at least) and our vision. No one is better equipped than us to carry it out; otherwise they would be doing it too. You are the leader!
For a long time I was stressed by communication topics in particular, namely "you have to" be present on Instagram and "post 3 times a week" at least in order to be visible... I have come to understand that not everything works for everyone and that's OK. I want to be present on Instagram, but it's not my style to post 3 times a week, and I'm not yet convinced that for me at least that's where all my future clients will come from... Although of course that could also happen.
Others are certainly more Instagram experts, and good for them if it works well. For my part, I prefer to write articles on occasions, and meet people. Talk with people. Inspire them when possible.
“Trust The Process”... or having a form of “faith”
If you don't believe in yourself, no one will believe in you.
I don't have all the answers yet, I haven't yet learned all the cogs of entrepreneurship (and fortunately, otherwise it might be boring to have already learned and understood everything in 10 months), I don't realize yet the turnover that I hope to achieve, but I am convinced that I am on the right track and for the (almost) first year, I am doing well.
I planted seeds, and they are growing slowly. And it seems to me that the ones I have not yet dared to plant... is that there is a reason. I may not be ready for all these seeds yet, but I am growing my garden and at my own pace, and I trust life. When the right time comes, I will.
Once again, each at their own pace. And as my coaching school “Trust the process” taught me - I trust that the process, things, are gradually being put in place. Everything in its time. I have faith in myself and faith in life.
What an honor, what a pleasure, to give myself this time and this space to give my project a chance. I thank myself for that. And if I had to do it again ; I will make the same decision again.
What’s Next ?
And now what? I will continue to develop my activity as a Coach and Facilitator. I have specific clients directly, I will continue on this path.
Since this summer, I have started to develop partnerships with platforms. In particular, I support people in their desire of witching careers, or women to develop their leadership. I'll see what these new partnerships do. And I have the ambition to develop my activity with companies.
I started after the summer to give various workshops "Diagnosing your Leadership" or even Workshops around Self-Confidence or Inter and intra-team Communication. The next workshop planned is group coaching for salary negotiation. I am committed to continuing my commitment to help companies develop their female talents and improve gender parity at all levels of corporate hierarchy.
If you know a company that might be interested in my services (Individual Coaching, Collective Coaching, Workshops and Team Seminars) do not hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to discuss the problem encountered and co-build the appropriate solutions together.
And you, what is your experience of entrepreneurship?
If you haven't started yet, what does this article inspire in you?
If you have, what points do you possibly share?