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THE MAGIC OF COACHING AND MENTORING THE ENTREPRENEUR

Supporting the entrepreneur in a holistic and effective way.

We find ourselves in an environment in South Africa where it is well known that those businesses that have survived and thrived; those side-hustles that have become small business and those after- hour jobs that have resulted in extra income have all been built on a sharp skill set possessed by the individual.

One of the skills that appears to have become vital is entrepreneurial skills. Entrepreneurial skills encompass the ability to react to the everchanging dynamic and competitive market environment, the ability to negotiate, the ability to work smart and long hours, when necessary, the ability to multi-task, and so on.

In South Africa the additional challenge is that very often those same entrepreneurs are dealing with other challenges especially as South African society battles its demons and struggles to deal with its traumatic past. South Africa is a society in flux. The pressure on the entrepreneur is therefore not only their business but every transaction and action which is built on personal relationships. Being able to remain focused exclusively on the growing business can prove anywhere from tricky to extremely challenging unless one’s ability to build rapport and also manage one’s life holistically is effective.

Ensuring the vitality and coping ability of the entrepreneur is where mentoring and coaching become imperative.

The distinction between coaching and mentoring comes into play and is important to understand. 

COACHING: THE VEHICLE TO SUPERIOR THINKING AND GROWTH

Having a coach is like having a personal trainer in a gym, for one’s mind and emotions.

The task of the coach is focused around what the client desires to accomplish from today onwards. It looks forward at the future, the client imagines what they wish to achieve and are accompanied along that path by the coach. The coach assists them to find their strengths and access abilities that they might never have known existed. The line between business coach and personal coach in this economic environment has become more blurred. As mentioned above the stress on the entrepreneur emanates not only from the business but the stress of their private life as well, the business coach therefore has to have the ability to be flexible and agile, as the coachee might wish to move between business and life issues- both of which directly affect their ability to cope and their companies bottom line!

BUT…Why Does Coaching Work?

Coaching is built on the idea that the quality of everything one does depends on how one thinks about it first.

The thinking environment plays a critical role. Life is busy. Life is noisy. Life is distracting and finding tranquility in life is not easy. To find the ‘space’ to do quality thinking is a challenge. The coaching relationship however not only assists in holding the coachee accountable and for carving out time to think but also uses learnt techniques to push the thinking further and asks questions that allows for more sophisticated thinking to take place. A thinking environment is created which is made up of ten parts, these include being non- judgemental and active listening. In the presence of these ten parts, coaches make a space for people to think for themselves with rigour, imagination, courage and grace.

I believe that coaching is about empowering one to make conscious decisions to empower the individual to become the leader in their own life. The entrepreneur wears the hat of a leader in multiple arenas, their business, their family or private lives and these all coalesce into how effective the individual will be as they journey through the varying aspects of their lives.

A coach needs the skill to make it real, meaning finding right balance of interpersonal skills and the practical skills to convert discussions into actions.

Leadership is being aware of the whole system and understanding its dynamic web of relationships- even if all the components are within. It is living with the vision and values, thinking on the ‘edge of chaos’ to evoke creativity and initiative so that resilience and the ability to be adaptive is developed. Based on educational and psychological theory, science and art combine in purposeful and inspiring conversations

MENTORING: THE VEHICLE TO SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT AND COMPETENCE

A mentor plays a different role. A mentor assists a person with less experience, then themselves in a common field. The mentor after listening integrating and assessing the specific needs of the mentee provides motivation, guidance, and insight into the specific difficulty within the area of the field. The direction that is offered is strategic and very focused. It is problem led. A mentor thus needs to have skills in the area of mutual endeavor, preferably first-hand experience, knowledge, and insights in the area in which mentoring is being provided– because mentoring should be built on solid and concrete advice and guidance.

Essentially a mentor is a trusted advisor who may also chose to build a relationship with the mentee while both advising them and if they are still in business, modelling positive behaviours. Depending on what is negotiated at the begining it may be a longer-term relationship. The critical aspect that differentiates the good quality mentors from others is that a good mentor is someone who doesn’t want to produce a clone of themselves, but rather is enthusiastic about their mentee’s goals, respectful of their abilities and willing to champion for their success. They need to be able to effectively and expeditiously recognise the strengths and challenge of the individual being coached, in order to boost them and ensure they stay on a forward moving trajectory.

THE KEY BENEFITS TO MENTORING AND COACHING

  • Both mentoring and coaching are extremely effective learning techniques.
  • Both mentoring and coaching can be formal and informal, with mentoring often seen more informally and coaching often see more formally.
  • Both can increase employee engagement and retention when applied.
  • Both mentoring and coaching can increase confidence and the interpersonal skills of the person providing the mentoring or coaching, and the person receiving it.

 

We at REAP have chosen this uniquely structured programme, as in South Africa there are many NGO’s and companies that value and support SMMME’s and entrepreneurs. These companies however offer ‘hard skills’, material aid and often some business training, however what is lacking is the strengthening of the entrepreneur themselves. What is incorrectly called soft-skill, are really essential skills for being a successful and fulfilled individual.  All of our coaches are registered with one of the governing boards and our mentors are area specialists. We recognise that for the SMMME to succeed the human being standing in the center is the one who keeps all the moving parts together and running successfully. It is the human being who needs to be built up into the most effective and successful entrepreneur they can be because – it all starts from them!