08 Feb From growing pains to massive gains
OK, let’s start from the beginning…
…as a new born baby there’s a good chance you have been born as a result of passion. But when you arrive in the world you are vulnerable and you need love to help you grow.
As a toddler you’re curious and spend lots of time discovering new things, learning about yourself and how you fit into the world. You’re confident and you have no fear. You don’t have to worry about politics or game-playing or how you’re going to put food on the table.
Smells like Teen Spirit
As you grow older and enter adolescence, you become more familiar with who you are and what you stand for, choosing the people around you becomes increasingly important; you’re conscious of who your friends are and who your enemies are. As the end of your school years approaches you need to start making some decisions on the direction you want to take.
Pizza the action
You head off to college or university or maybe an apprenticeship, where you get an education on a chosen subject and just as importantly, an education in life. Probably living independently for the first time, you’re managing a tight budget, learning to do things for yourself like becoming a gourmet chef by putting a pizza in the oven.
You realise that friendships need nurturing; you need to put in the effort especially if you’ve moved away from your home town and you are trying to manage long distance relationships. You’ll be working hard and playing hard and doing lots of experimenting until finally you graduate or pass that apprenticeship.
Time to grow
And boom! That’s when you realise you have to grow up and make some decisions. You enter into the world of work where you need to become professional, so you refine and polish and learn to present yourself with confidence to the wider world. You might reinvent yourself several times as you find your flow, clarify your own personal vision and decide on the mark you want to leave in the world but you are always growing.
The heart of the matter
And if you think about, it a start-up goes through the same steps. The idea for Entrepreneurial Spark was born from a passion to serve entrepreneurs but we still had to take small steps and learn to grow.
We had to be constantly curious about the environment in which we operated, discovering new opportunities, trying new things with that toddler’s sense of fearlessness.
We learnt quickly that the entrepreneur was at the heart of every decision that was made, which is why it was set up as a social enterprise. We received gifts from supporters in the form of cash and the use of premises to grow our business.
In our adolescence we started to define what makes us unique. For us it was about being a people accelerator, and the focus was on the psychology of the entrepreneur. Instead of putting posters of pop stars on our wall, we put posters of entrepreneurial mindsets and behaviours and idolised those.
As our tastes matured, instead of eating ketchup with everything, we created our own secret sauce. Choosing the people around us was vitally important during this time; we began to build a team of people who understood our vision and just like good friends we knew they always had our back.
And, just like any teenager we created enemies; we disrupted the market and fell out with people as we developed our identity and our place in the entrepreneurial eco-system. However, we also did our homework and soon the offers for our next steps started coming in.
Spreading our wings
We went off to uni with backing from RBS and just in the same way you might move from Glasgow to Manchester to spread your wings, we started travelling and setting up home in 12 locations across the UK.
As we surrounded ourselves with more people we experienced the challenges of relationships especially the long distance ones. We learned how to manage the intricacies of team dynamics and the challenge of building an empowered team culture across multiple locations. And just like any student, we had to work within a small budget to make sure money was spent on the right things and bills were paid at the end of the month.
Our Camp America was a trip to India. We set up Entrepreneurial Spark in four locations there to take advantage of the sub-continent’s thriving entrepreneurial scene.
Our end of term exams are our ‘Impact Reports’, which show the effect we have had on entrepreneurs and the UK economy as a whole.
We’ve worked hard and enjoyed the whole journey. Just like at uni there has been lots of experimenting and new partnerships, but the one thing we’ve come back to is our specific ability to develop mindsets through enablement, and we are graduated with more knowledge about our specialty subject and the world in which we operate.
Back to the future
And now we realise that we have to really grow up so we’ve made some massive decisions.
We started by questioned whether our ambition is big enough. Are we reaching enough entrepreneurs in the right way? We’ve decided the answer was no, we can do more.
So in just a few months we built a brand new strategy to realise that. In order to achieve our bigger ambitions we need to refine and polish who we are and how we present ourself to the wider world. We are further professionalising what we do and honing our skills. We also need to make significant changes to create a sustainable company for the future.
In 2017 we will quadruple our capacity to enable 4,000 entrepreneurs by utilising online technology and maximising our centres of excellence in 13 UK cities. London has always been on the horizon and we have answered the call, we open there in August. We will create a UK wide entrepreneurial network to enable peer to peer engagement as well as adding value to entrepreneurs through a wider support network.
As part of growing up we’re redefining our brand and messaging, even changing our vocabulary so terms such as chiclets and hatcheries will now be a thing of the past, entrepreneurs and hubs are the way forward.
Just like a university graduate undertaking their first professional job we’re excited and bursting with enthusiasm as we commence this new chapter for Entrepreneurial spark.
It’s all about you
Growing older is inevitable. The great thing is you have a choice to change what it looks like. We’ve chosen what growing older looks like for Entrepreneurial Spark and we’ve made the change.
So where are you at in your life? What does 2017 look like for you? What changes do you need to make as you grow older. It may be inevitable but the choice to change is yours.