Posted: Mon 31st Oct 2022
StartUp UK is Enterprise Nation's scheme to provide free tailored support to budding entrepreneurs.
Backed by the UK government and high-profile firm Monzo Business, the programme delivers initiatives such as e-learning, online training, national events and flagship annual conferences throughout the UK.
As the scheme continues to run, we're talking to some of the business owners who have been taking part, to hear how it's benefited them so far.
Here, we talk to Laura Love-Petschl, owner of Between Humans, a coaching social enterprise bringing transformational coaching to communities and grassroots and community organisations in London.
How did you come up with your business idea?
After a career change several years ago, I'd been working in the charity and non-profit sector project-managing frontline services for refugees and migrant women in London. I loved my work and feeling a sense of purpose, but unfortunately the stressful nature of the work and my own perfectionism combined to make me burn out.
I took a step back, and at that point had the great fortune to be able to access some coaching. It was transformational, not only because it really allowed me to properly reflect on what I wanted and become more self-aware, but because I realised that it has huge potential for community work (and for the organisations involved).
However, I also realised that there are equally huge barriers for people accessing coaching, or even knowing what it is and that it exists. So, I created Between Humans to bridge the gap between community work and professional coaching.
I now work in collaborative partnerships with different social impact organisations to embed coaching in their service design and delivery, drawing on my experiences working in the sector and even my language skills (I speak conversational Arabic).
I'm at a really exciting point where I'm also starting to build the capacity of the organisations themselves through developing in-house coaching skills, peer coaching and roadmaps to a coaching culture.
My goal is that everyone has access to coaching to feel empowered in their own lives, and that people in frontline work no longer pay with their own wellbeing as the price of working for a social purpose.
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What do you think makes your business unique?
Between Humans is a rare beast: a community and grassroots coaching social enterprise (planning to register as a CIC next year!). There aren't a lot of professionally trained coaches doing what I'm doing – taking coaching usually only available to people in leadership, management and executive roles and making it accessible, inclusive and within reach of people from marginalised and under-represented communities.
Likewise, coaching is an unusual approach in frontline community work where the emphasis is often on directive approaches such as providing information, advice, guidance or training. So, Between Humans is changing both coaching and community work, one session at a time.
You've taken part in Enterprise Nation's StartUp UK programme. What were your reasons for doing it?
When you start a business, there's so much to learn because you often have to wear so many different hats – at least until you can afford to start hiring or outsourcing. Not all of those hats are an easy or comfortable fit!
StartUp UK offered opportunities to develop my knowledge about all the aspects of business I need to understand in order to have a real chance of success.
The other reason I'm excited to be taking part in StartUp UK is that, through Between Humans, I'm working with a charity to provide coaching to women from under-represented backgrounds who are starting businesses. It's great that I can signpost them to resources and events that are actually accessible for them, because they are free or low-cost and a mixture of online and in-person.
So it feels like participating in StartUp UK is not just a win for me and my business, but a win for the women I'm coaching as well.
How has the StartUp UK programme benefited you and your business so far?
Attending the StartUp Saturday event in London was an amazing opportunity to meet lots of other entrepreneurs and right off the bat I made some great connections. It was really refreshing to be learning in a shared, physical space – what a lovely change from all those Zoom sessions!
As I started Between Humans over a year ago and it isn't my first experience of starting a business, I wasn't sure how much new ground there would be to cover. But I was so wrong. I took away loads of new ideas and approaches and the session on social media in particular has made me reconsider how I am using it at the moment.
I'm keeping an eye out for other activities and events to join, and I really appreciate the regular updates about what's happening with StartUp UK.
What's the best advice you've received from taking part in StartUp UK?
Taking part in the StartUp Saturday event really opened my eyes to the value of working with an accountant. I've always felt quite comfortable managing my business finances as it's something I've done a lot of in the past.
But hearing business accountants talk about the ins and outs of different tax implications and different business structures really made me think about how much I don't know. I'm now in the process of researching accountants.
Do you have any business advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
As a coach, I tend not to give advice! However, when I've been running meet-ups for women starting businesses, the general conclusion of everyone present is 'just get started'.
We can get really attached to the idea that we need to know everything about starting a business, or our area of business, before making a first move. But that can also end up being a way to avoid taking the plunge and putting ourselves out there. Or, we can end up wasting time researching or learning things that we don't actually need to know.
I personally prefer a more agile approach of figuring it out as I go, and talking to a lot of people along the way. Once you take that approach and also speak to more people who have started businesses, you realise that is what most people are doing most of the time.
This is also where StartUp UK is helpful because there are so many bitesize resources to access on so many different topics; I can hone in on exactly what I need at a given moment rather than trying to learn everything upfront.
Access support to start your business
Visit the StartUp UK hub for resources that give you the education and inspiration to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.