Are entrepreneurs born or made? It’s a common question but there has never been any real consensus. Personally, I believe that with a bit of knowledge and encouragement many of us can unlock our entrepreneurship potential. I also think that parents and schools have a role to play in encouraging wider thinking about career opportunities amongst the young. This includes thinking about the opportunities around entrepreneurship.
With this in mind, a mother-daughter entrepreneurship workshop initiative seemed like a great way to encourage entrepreneurship, a workshop that would raise knowledge and confidence in both the younger generations and their mothers. As a result, earlier this month I was privileged to be able to deliver my first ‘mothers and daughters’ workshops at Kendrick School in Reading.
The focus of the event was on discovering our ‘entrepreneurship potential’. It was a really fun evening and the feedback about the course has been great. That is really good news for me and I am now looking for other schools that are keen to host similar workshops. In this article I wanted to explore a few issues that came out of the workshop, which I believe we can all learn from:
1. Surrounding yourself with people that can make you ‘bloom’
The difference in people’s contributions at the end of the evening compared to at the start of the evening (3 hours earlier) amazed me. It was like watching a roomful of flowers come into full bloom. All engaged and were responsive to begin with but then the energy and confidence rose and I ended up with an incredible array of individuals with loads of ideas and amazing creativity. Being able to create and facilitate a workshop that enabled that to happen made me so proud! What a privilege!
This highlights the real importance of all of us surrounding ourselves with people who can help us ‘bloom’ on a daily basis. People who can bring out the best in us and people who can help us find our potential.
2. Focusing on the positives
In one of the first exercises, I showed teams a YouTube clip and told them they would firstly have five minutes to consider what they had liked and then a further five minutes to consider what they hadn’t liked about the clip.
During those first five minutes, every team slipped into just focussing on what they didn’t like. Why is it we all do that? If we are to support one another then we need to overcome this desire to immediately criticise and highlight what wasn’t so great and, instead, always seek to focus on praise and identifying what did go right.
As women, we are often our own harshest critics so we probably already know what wasn’t so great. A bit of positive feedback from our friends and colleagues about what did work well could go a long way to building our confidence.
3. Achieving full potential
I have to confess to being a little disappointed that so many mothers said they were only there to support and encourage their daughters. It’s great to support and encourage others, but it’s a failing of many women to spend so much time supporting others that we don’t spend enough time on ourselves. And with entrepreneurship exploding across the UK, across all the age ranges, it’s not just those coming out of education who are setting up in business.
Spending time on ourselves, finding what we need to learn, networking with those we need to connect with is so crucial if we are to achieve our potential. And, if any one of those mothers was using their daughter as an excuse to attend, then what a shame that it has to be that way. No one should ever have to pretend they are not interested in exploring new ideas or thinking about their potential. If I am honest though, I think quite a lot of women do: we downplay our interests, our needs, our dissatisfaction with the roles we currently have and also, most crucially, we often downplay our ambitions.
I hope though that this one entrepreneurship evening might just have encouraged one or two of those who attended to be braver and more assertive about what it is they want in life.
4. The elevator pitch
We practised developing an ‘elevator pitch’ in order to explain in just a few clear sentences what the business idea was and why someone should buy. After all, communication skills in business are absolutely crucial. The mothers and daughters did brilliantly but this exercise was an important reminder of how vital it is that we find a way to clearly and concisely explain what it is we do.
Women, I find, often get carried away with the reasoning and rationale behind their product or service. They justify why they chose this business; they seek our affirmation that we agree with what they are doing. And only then do they start to seek to sell to us. But that all takes so long that before they even get to the sales pitch, the elevator has hit ground level and the person you want to sell to has long since hopped out. Great to be passionate and enthusiastic, but be careful not to then miss the sale!
5. Leaving time for creativity
And finally, we had a great session on creativity. In teams, I challenged them to come up with six great uses of a stale doughnut. They then had to develop their ideas and come up with a business idea. Great fun and simply inspiring how, in just 15 minutes, a group of people can take a crazy idea and develop it into a great business idea.
What ideas can you come up with if you set your stopwatch for five minutes?
I expect that before that session many would never have believed how creative they could be or how exciting it can be to turn a wacky idea into a money making venture. Let’s hope they remember the evening next time someone asks them if they are creative or have business potential!
Wouldn’t it be just great if we could all take time out of our busy schedules to spend time having fun exploring our potential?
If you are nodding your head and if you are part of a school, college, university or women’s group who would love to put on an event like this, then please do let me know as I would love to help (free of charge wherever possible). In fact, it would be a privilege to help!