By Rob Lacroix, Expat Coaching Company
Those who were there when I made my pitch at the previous AABC meeting might remember I am a life coach. What I did not tell you is that I also have another activity within my company. I am also an “idea coach” at VINS. You might be wondering what it is an idea coach does.
“Imagine this: You have a great idea”
You have a great idea for a startup or for a new service to be introduced within your already existing firm. It is such a great idea that you are completely and over the moon enthusiastic about it. In those moments it is hard to keep your cool, and keep your professional distance and ask yourself those confronting, but so necessary difficult questions to make sure you went over everything correctly. And after you asked yourself those questions, it might still be hard to shape that great idea in a clear and structured base for further steps, like a business plan or an action plan. How do you prevent chasing your own tail, as the Dutch proverb says?
“Ways to keep a professional and analytic view on things”
At such a moment it might be useful to look for someone who can help you to keep an open mind and who will coach you, in order for you to keep a professional and analytic view on the matter. You might turn to a friend or relative. This is always good to start with. They will be able to give you a first feedback on your idea. Important to keep in mind is that, your friends and relatives will mean well, but the risk with that is, that they care for you and might not be objective to what you say, in order not to hurt your feelings. Therefore, they might be (to) positive, where they should be more critical.
Here are some examples of questions to ask them: would they buy your product or service? If so, what do they think is the most compelling reason for doing this? Was this what you tried to achieve? On the other hand, if not, then this is a moment for reflection. Why not? Did you explain your idea well? Might they just not be part of your potential market? Is there a market? Or is your idea still so vague, that you were not able to explain it to them in such a way that they “got it”. In this case you could seek out a professional coach, in this case an Idea Coach. An Idea Coach, with the use of regular coaching techniques, will help you structure your idea in such a way, that you will be able to decide whether it is viable, if you are able to explain it to others in a clear and comprehensive way, and if it is viable, know how to proceed in putting it in a business plan.
“How does that work?”
You (you single or you plural) sit down with the coach and go over your general idea. The purpose is to get the idea structured in your head, by asking you questions and engage in exercises in order to help/force you to think deep level about the essence of what you want to deliver. Different coaches use just as many different techniques.
I work with a system of three, a first glance, simple questions. The questions are important, but not the most important part of the exercise. What is really important, is that you get to the essence of each question and to the connecting answer. What usually happens without professional guidance is, that questions are asked, and sometimes even the right ones, but the answers are to easily found, without any real soul searching and effort. This is usually a good sign that you have to ask again and again that same question, until you are sure you have reached an answer, that will give you a solid base to build your business plan on. A friend or relative, with nothing but good intentions, might accept these easy answers. A good coach will never settle for an easy answer and will keep “badgering” you with the question on hand, until you are both convinced that you have reached the essence. Only then you move on to the next question, etc. This sounds easy, but it is not. And this is why it takes up to 4 hours to do this exercise.
I have been doing these exercises for a while now and there are a few certainties. First, I still have to meet the person who had it all clear in his or her head, in such a way that he or she could answer all 3 questions without difficulties and straight to the essence, even though some of them thought they did.
Second, it takes a lot of effort and it is quite confronting. Most people are quiet tired after one of these session. But who said it is easy to be an entrepreneur.
And third, most people will have more clear and structured and sometimes, surprisingly different, thoughts about their idea.
“So I sat down with a coach, what’s next?”
Then it is time for homework. Because you have to take those new insights and let them first sink in. Chew on them and then work with them. What are they telling you and what can you do with that? Part of following up on a session with a coach could/should be returning to your friends and telling them your “updated” idea. See what, if any, has changed in how they respond and what does this tell you.
After talking to your friends, you could do a follow up with your coach. Either in another mini session or in a monthly reflection session, in which you can address the issues you run into during the further panning out or execution of your idea. Here also the approaches differ over the relative coaches. Ask your coach what he or she things will work out best for you and your situation, but make your own decision, because as always with coaching, it has to feel good for you.
“Being successful is always within reach, but it certainly helps to give yourself a head start”
Every year loads of people have ideas for new businesses or new products or services. Only a small part of those get to the stage of execution. From those, some will not succeed, because the idea owners did not structure their idea thoroughly and therefore were not prepared right.
I am sure a lot more of those ideas would have been executed successfully, if they only would have had the right (idea) coaching. So if you have a great idea for a startup or for a new service within you already existing firm and want to turn the odds in your favor, consider to give your idea a head start with the right professional guidance and contact an Idea Coach.
Dare to life your own life and be happy!
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