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Cathy Becq has been coaching and advising startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses in the art, culture and creative sector for over 30 years. She has been an entrepreneur, financial director, consultant and board member.
Her diverse background has informed her original approach. She applies techniques from entrepreneurship (Empathy Map, Value Proposition Design and Business Model Generation,...), business and life coaching.
Her approach is based on the observation of sectoral trends of the companies she accompanies, with the aim of broadening their vision of strategic challenges. She helps any company that wishes to rethink its meaning, strategy and organisation, providing the right support to be better equipped to build a solid and sustainable future.
MAD had a talk with Cathy Becq.
"Any coach would tell you that it is by stepping out of your comfort zone that you develop your personality and the singularity of your company."
It seems that you have a very diverse background, what kind of approach are you using thoughout your coachings?
I am above all a generalist, I am interested in many things. Let's say that in my professional life, I have had three pillars: finance, human resources and strategic thinking.
This allows me to have a global and holistic vision of what a company is, to take a step back and see the company as a whole and see the overall balance for the project owner and the company manager.
In my approach, I first try to understand the entrepreneur. Who is the person in front of me? What is their background with its strengths and weaknesses? Then I try to understand the motivation for wanting to start a business. Putting the project into perspective in relation to the global context is also essential. How does the project fit into the current world? Most young creatives see their project in a very narrow way. I try to give them that perspective.
You founded 'Past To Future', a business strategy facilitation agency, what exactly do you do?
I do my consulting and coaching with this company. I focus my advice on developing the resilience of companies I accompany, to help them navigate in this complex and uncertain world we live in. I lead them to question the purpose of the company. It is important to put the proper basics behind the entrepreneurial project, to serve as a guide to strategic thinking and to stay on course facing changes in their environment.
You talk about taking a step back and understanding the ecosystem, what are the other points not to forget when starting a business?
I give a talk once a month at the MAD where I develop about fifteen important points for starting an entrepreneurial business (Introduction session 'How to start your business in fashion and design').
But if we talk about the main ones, as I said, there is the apprehension of the outside world that surrounds the project. But also the client, putting him at the heart of the system. You have to understand who they are and empathise with them, understand their needs, it's essential. Then there is motivation and the mind set.
And finally the team, you have to surround yourself with the right people, even when you start alone, there are ways to surround yourself well. You have to have a team that can deal with all of the company's issues.
"Anthropologists say "make the familiar foreign and the foreign familiar". In fact, it consist of questioning our ways of living and thinking. And it is from self-reflection that comes creativity and understanding of the other. "
You have lived abroad (Australia, Jordan), would you say it is essential to travel, to be open to other cultures, to get out of our comfort zone in order to better manage?
Any coach would tell you that it is by stepping out of your comfort zone that you develop your personality and the singularity of your company.
We've always known that “travel forms youth”, Montaigne talked about it in his essaies. It is extremely important, especially as we live in a global world with colliding cultures. You have to be able to empathise with these different cultures. Through travel you learn a lot of things, curiosity, resilience, humility and empathy are very important qualities for any leader and entrepreneur today. You have to try to go in with an open mind.
Anthropologists say "make the familiar foreign and the foreign familiar". In fact, it consist of questioning our ways of living and thinking. And it is from self-reflection that comes creativity and understanding of the other.
You were an entrepreneur yourself, how do you see entrepreneurship of tomorrow?
Since I was an entrepreneur, things have changed enormously. There was no direct communication with customers, no internet and social networks, and visibility that these channels offer. The barriers to entrepreneurship were much higher.
Today there are far fewer barriers to entrepreneurship, you can start a business in 24 hours. But at the same time, the world is much more complex than before, there is too much of everything. You have to know how to get out of the "noise" that is constantly around you.
When you open an e-commerce site, it is very simple and very complicated at the same time to be visible.
Creativity is one of the essential aspects that we must cultivate today. Not only in the product or service that you offer, but also in your business model and strategy. You have to find creative ways to be more visible than others, more relevant and bring something to the table, it's a major challenge.Companies are very much stuck in traditional ways of operating and it's high time we start thinking differently.
And then we come back to the client, he is constantly changing, we have to know how to adapt, there is a part of agility to remain relevant. But you also have to stay up to date in terms of technology and continue to train. And finally, the entrepreneur of tomorrow must be aware of the global issues facing humanity, such as the environment.