The NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator programme and your pet business with Sophie Gowling

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Are you thinking of taking part in the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator programme which supports businesses looking to grow?

If so, this podcast interview with Sophie Gowling, Enterprise Acceleration Manager for NatWest will give you all the information you need.

You’ll learn what the programme is, the four pillars of support, who it’s for, what coaching is, how it can support your pet business and more.

For the last six months, I’ve been part of the Accelerator and I share my personal experience of how it’s helped me launch my Pets Get Visible membership and work on other areas in my business and life too.

Listen in on the player link below or you can read the key points as a blog.

Hi Sophie, can you tell us a little about you?

My background very different to kind of the traditional path of what people expect coming into a bank.

I’m from a creative background, I studied Art at university, and ran my own jewellery business that I set up at university.

I joined the programme myself after graduating so I was able to focus on growing my own business.

I had the opportunity to come on board with NatWest, working as a coach and a programme manager and I still have my jewellery business too.

I’ve experience on the other side of the table from taking part myself, which has been really valuable.

Can you explain what the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator programme is?

“It’s a six month fully funded business programme for businesses that are looking to scale and grow and it’s open to all industries.

“We have what we call the four pillars of support.

Community is an essential aspect of that. And certainly the one where I see all of the magic moments happen when people connect with like minded individuals.

“You have the Coaching, with a dedicated accelerator manager, who is your business coach throughout the six month period.

“We have Thought Leadership, so your workshops on the core fundamentals within the business that are going to help you scale and grow, as well as peer to peer group coaching sessions and community events.

“Finally, there’s Networking. As the biggest bank for business in the UK, NatWest have an incredible network, both internally and externally, and with other businesses in the area.”

What are the benefits of being part of a group with different businesses but similar goals?

“We want to make sure that people don’t feel like this is like ‘men in suits and top hats’ and very scary individuals.

“It’s not, everyone is very approachable and people make friends for life, and it’s so beautiful to see.

“People have those magic moments of, ‘Oh, I know somebody that can help you with that,’ and they can just make that introduction.

“It’s that giving back, that collaboration. Entrepreneurs are very like minded, and they’re striving towards that common goal.

“So even when you do work in different industries, you’re often facing the same challenges and able to be there for one another.”

The coaching element is something so valuable, can you explain how this works?

“I always start off by saying that the coaching is a non advisory service.

“Sometimes that can make people think, ‘Oh, God, I want all of the answers. And I want you to tell me it all now!’

“We normally do a 45 minute to an hour session every month.

“For some people, it’s being able to speak out loud and have that sounding board.

“For others, it can be that level of accountability to say in a structured environment, ‘Okay, this is what you said you were going to do last month, these are what you say your goals are, you’re not quite kind of heading in that direction. Is that still where we want to go? Or are we looking at going somewhere else.’

“The coaching is very bespoke, it’s tailored to what it is that you’re wanting to get out of that. Whether that’s looking to increase your confidence as a leader, or it might be that you’re looking to kind of hit certain financial goals or hit a certain benchmark within the business.

“We’ll focus on that and take a bit of a deeper dive into any challenges and roadblocks that may be getting in the way of achieving those things.”

For me, the accountability means you have direction and you things get done

“Yes, it just shows the power of accountability and saying, ‘This is what you said you were gonna do, are you on track?

“Being able to kind of realise that bigger ‘why?’ Sometimes when you’re doing things, and it feels like a long slog, some of those goals are smaller in terms of the time that they’ll take to achieve, but some of them can feel like a mammoth task.

“Breaking them down into manageable tasks is absolutely something that can be realised through coaching.

“And it’s also useful to explore the bigger reason as to why you’re doing things, the impact of the actions that you’re taking, and what that’s going to do for other people.”

What would your advice be for any pet business owners listening and considering joining?

“If you’re stuck, always come and talk to us because we are you don’t need to bank with NatWest to come and have a conversation – we’re a friendly bunch with teams across the country.

“If you are somebody with what we call the growth mindset, somebody that’s looking to move forward, regardless of what industry you’re in, if you’re looking to kind of build some momentum, have that kind of motivation of being around others learn, be challenged, and kind of have a real focus, then come and talk to us.

“And even if the accelerator isn’t the right thing for you, whether that’s now or in the future, then we can signpost you to business support that is available in your region.

“There’s a real power in seeing other people’s journeys, learning from them, having that structure to take some of the pressure that you feel when you’re trying to spin a lot of plates and to feel a little bit more in control.

“We’d love to speak to you, we’re here to support you and your business and we love hearing about it.”

Links mentioned in this episode:

Applications are open for the latest round until February 27th, and the programme runs twice each year, starting in March and September.

To apply, visit: https://www.natwest.com/business/business-services/entrepreneur-accelerator.html

Connect with Sophie Gowling on LinkedIn

Learn more about Pets Get Visible, my Accelerator project and mini-membership: Is my Pets Get Visible membership right for you? 

Connect with me in my free Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/publicitytipsforpetbusinesses

Check out my pet blog and soon to be directory at www.thepawpost.co.uk

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