December 8, 2014

Setting up in business – 3 essential character traits from an executive coach

Since being a teenager I’d imagined I would own my own company at some point in my life. I’d come from an entrepreneurial family – but still at 30 years old had no idea how I was going to make the move from my comfortable London corporate job into the grit and fast-tracked hustle of entrepreneurial life.

Ultimately the decision was made for me (as often happens when we hold a vision that we’re not taking sufficient action to realise!). In a challenging 12-month period in the second year of the new millenium, I left my marriage (an empowered choice), bought a new home (an inspiring space), had my first child (an eternal blessing), took a short maternity leave (14 weeks) and returned to my Commercial Director role … where 3 months later I was made redundant (with a healthy pay off – a lovely silver lining!).

As a single mother it made sense to invest in the flexibility of running my own business. It took a full 6 weeks of conversations and meditations to work out what product or service would most inspire me. There were no executive coaching schools in the UK in 2002 so I did a post graduate degree out of the US – that was a juggle!

I took on my first executive contracts while I was still studying and within 5 years had clients from some of the biggest media companies in the world – directors, editors, publishers, actors, authors – what a delight. The next 5 years I expanded to coach leaders in finance, medicine and new energy – CEOs, MDs, marketeers and financiers. From there I began to work with business owners of small and medium sized companies who themselves had made their own leaps into entrepreneurship and were conscious to keep aware and ahead of their game – thus their seeking out an executive coach in London.

There are people who will be driven at some point to go into business on their own. There are others who enjoy the cultures and routines found in most salaried jobs. If you think you’re one of the former, here are the top 3 character traits that got me beyond decade one:

  •  A healthy relationship to risk: there are points when you ask, borrow or say ‘yes’ for something way beyond what you think you can deliver. Growing pains are an essential part of expansion. The wisdom lies in defining healthy risk: too cautious or too gung ho and you may not make it through to your crucial year-3 tipping point (where it often gets easier – extra confidence and experience perhaps)
  • A strong support network: this could be family (although they’re often not the best people to help you stretch beyond your comfort zones) or could equally be other business owners who’re a few (or many) steps ahead. I’ve found that mentors, business coaches and mastermind groups have all enriched my journey to date – and I continue to invest in an executive coach for my own ongoing best performance.
  • A philosophical mindset: there’s just no way you can foresee the challenges or the opportunities that show up month to month. What helps though is to define and hold a clear vision of where you’re heading. What difference is your product or service going to make to each person who encounters it? And then, what difference is delivering that service seamlessly year after year going to make to your quality of life and your ability to give back?

As an executive coach in London and now increasingly in Scotland, I see people every day who’re choosing to make extraordinary changes to their life – personally and professionally. If you want the same … consider the leap!

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