#Entrepreneurship

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Eclectic Minds: why and how.

Eclectic Minds was launched in Oct 2015 after a lot of thinking, reflecting, jotting down and scribbling. Now is the time to explain in better details how it all fits in.

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Eclectic Minds : le pourquoi et le comment

Eclectic Minds a été lancé en Octobre 2015 après moults réflexions, notes et ratures. Il est temps de montrer l’envers du décor au grand jour.

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#Entrepreneurship in English

Entrepreneurship: A state of mind?

We will not come back onto how Eclectic Minds came to Noemie’s mind in that café in the City. The blog post #Eclectic Minds takes you through the thinking process.

This conversation with Agathe, intern in 2021 at Eclectic Minds was purely business focused.

Agathe and Noemie are both French and the public service is everywhere in the country: teachers, (layers and layers of) administration, police officers, health workers… a large part of your everyday life is surrounded by civil servants.

Arriving in the UK was a little bit of a culture shock in that regard: the British do it differently and more liberally.

It slowly changed Noemie’s perspective and there is no doubt that evolving in such a vibrant city and open culture, it was easier to consider entrepreneurship in the UK.

Less red tape than across the Channel meant that she could throw herself in setting up Eclectic Minds.

The frame that she had, became a bit malleable, therefore she managed to make it her own. Had she stayed in France, she would not have gone ahead.

In France, we tend to oppose education and the private sector. Less so, in the UK.

being a teacher does not fit with the common image of the entrepreneur.

It took a while, but Noémie realized that you do not have to become this cliché of the “businesswoman”. You do not have to comply to the image you are given. This image is changing, slowly. But above anything else, you make it what you want it to be. So far, Noemie is happy to say that she has not sold her soul. She has only managed to find the right tools to give shape to her thoughts.

The reality of running a business

Agathe: “One element that helped you a lot during this journey to develop your business was having a network. Can you tell us why?”

Noemie: “Networking is key. You cannot do it alone.

When I set up Eclectic Minds, one reason was because I wanted to work along the lines that I had decided. (link to previous posts) The other one was also because I felt very much alone and I was sure that others were in the same situation. “

It was not a conscious objective initially, but it has become one. And the pandemic highlighted this. It is so important to keep the fire burning, for that you need people to help you find this way up and to regather your thoughts.

I did not realize it, initially, when I set up the business. I did not know much and, quickly, I realized the impact it could have There was a networking event approximately one month after Eclectic Minds was launched. It was an eye-opening evening because I left with such a boost, business cards, having made contacts, having bounced off ideas, having had to explain what I was doing, to have people smiling back thinking “this is really cool”. Human is at the core of Eclectic Minds, and this is a part of it.

In parts, this is a way of recognizing your tribe. The people forming it have visions along the same lines as you, they share their challenges, their doubts in a way you understand. It helps me to be more focused on who I want to be close to and to surround myself with the right people.

My expertise is around language teaching. It is not web mastering, it’s not social media, it’s not photos, not accounting. I did try my hand on all aspects and appreciate the need of experts, the need to spend money because this person is worth this money. At the end of the day, people pay me for my expertise. I want people to recognize it, so it is only normal to recognize it in others.”

Agathe: “You also found tools over the course of the years and built resources along the way.”
Noemie: “I was helped. I did not invent those tools. I went to people who knew where the tools where. I had a business mentor for the first year of Eclectic Minds before signing with L-Start which helps French women entrepreneurs with all those tools. They’ve got workshops, blog posts, experts… It became my go to place.”

Agathe: “You reached out to female mentorship. What is it like to be a female entrepreneur, do you see any differences?”

Noemie: “I’ve noticed that there is a lot of female lead networks for women. There is a lot to be said about female lead businesses. However, I don’t think it is a question of male or female, I think it is a question of values and what is driving you. I want to be able live off my activity, to earn money, a little bit of financial ambition but this is not the drive of my activity. Maybe sometimes, the questions I’ve been confronted by with male entrepreneurs were money questions, numbers. I’m thinking, that’s not how I communicate, I understand that is important, but that’s not the core, for me.”

Agathe: “You also said to me that it was quite important for you to express the fact that as a teacher, it is okay, it is valid to seek ambition and to be rewarded for your job.”
Noemie: “It’s interesting because I think that when you teach in a public school, on either side on the Channel, there is a problem of recognition. It is a beautiful job to have, and we need teachers, that’s not question. I moved slightly away from that sphere, and I went into the private sector to teach afterwards, I was paid by the hour and putting numbers together, thinking “I would like to be a little bit more comfortable”. It is difficult to talk about money and to feel legitimate to talk about money. It’s a bit of a complex conversation to have. But in other domains of work, it’s not a problem to talk about these things, it’s not a problem to have ambition. So why should teachers not have any? They deserve it, as much as the next person working in the private sector.”

Agathe: “What challenges are you facing today, with Eclectic Minds ?”

Noemie: “It is the challenge of constantly having to learn.
It is a constant learning of thinking “I should have”, or “I ought to do this” or “if only’.

Once thing at a time. My pace is different to somebody else’s pace. It is a personal, mental, challenge sometimes, to have to always reinvent and to always learn from your mistakes. And sometimes, it can feel a little bit tiring on a bad day. But really, isn’t that exiting as well? When you stop making that mistake, it’s amazing. It’s never going to end. I will never wake up thinking “It’s fine” now. Maybe when I retire?”

Agathe: “It might be a great metaphor for other aspect of our lives, like happiness or self-development. We will never be “enough”, we will never be done. It’s a constant process of growth.”

Noemie: “Absolutely. In that process, you need to be nice to yourself, you need to be tolerant with yourself. But need to have the right people around you to mirror that message as well. Hence the network. To have like-minded people who can understand, yet they know as well that you shouldn’t dwell on it. At least, you can bounce off something off someone.

It can be your brother, your neighbor, your friend or whatever.

It is important to keep at it. The parallel with happiness and life in general, if you don’t work at it, how can you pursue anything? If I stopped working on Eclectic Minds, who is going to do it? No one. It’s only down to me. That is an excellent motivation to keep at it.”

An Eclectic vision of the future

Agathe: “What changed for you both on a professional and personal level since you started this journey with Eclectic Minds. You were talking about learning to make mistakes. Are there any other aspects?”

Noemie: “Learning to make mistakes is a part of the journey. It changes the person you were into a stronger character. If you can make mistake, learn from them, and keep going, you feel stronger you thought you were.

In terms of personal investment, entrepreneurship has taught me to keep at it. Reminding myself of the reasons why helps me to move forward. If I am capable of one tiny step, then I should be able to do the next.

And the next big question is: where are you going with this?

I am into it for the long run, so I need to pace myself and regularly look at what has been achieved, breathe, appreciate, and keep going.

It has made me realize that some go for their target whatever the cost on the present time. I want to enjoy the process, and I want to be available for my boys. I want my company to succeed but not at a stupid price costing me the time of now.

I have degrees and qualifications which mean I have choices. I have the experience of working in different environments to know where I would rather be and work. I am extremely lucky to be able to make decisions and not to have to make them.

Considering this started on a feeling, the fact that I made it work for myself is very motivating to offer this opportunity to others.

Now there is nothing stopping from growing. It can grow as big as people want it to be.

I was able to adjust from teacher to setting up a company, surely this means anyone can do it.

The versatility of the concept means it can travel. The flexibility could compare it to play dough: make a beautiful shape out of it.

The baseline has not moved in all these years. it is solid. The shape we give it is up to us, language teachers.”

#Entreprenariat en Français

This post is not translated in another language. Translate this one and another in your mother tongue and receive a credit in return.

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