Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, I’m Claire Osborne and I’m the founder of The Mindset Society. I started the company during the first UK coronavirus lockdown as stress and anxiety were skyrocketing, and sadly many employers I was talking about were at a loss of how to help. It’s not surprising, helping people work through their thoughts and emotions and figure out how to solve personal and professional challenges needs independence and expertise that employers can’t offer on their own. That’s where the Mindset Society comes in.
The Mindset Society provides coaching to startups and scale-ups in particular because innovation in business presents a huge opportunity to change the world for the better, and by enabling people, and the ripple effect that creates, you not only help people be happier, you also put a rocket up that positive change.
Two types of service are the real flagships; coaching founders directly to help them power decisive action with deep insight, or supporting founders by working with their teams to help them take a step back from the pressures of modern-day work (now in a pandemic!) and reconnect with what they need to look after themselves & get the most out of their time at work.
I launched the company from my lounge, while in solo lockdown thanks to coronavirus, and not only has it given me meaning in this madness, it’s also averaged over $15k revenue a month since.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I ended up here after years of working long hours making money for someone else, slowly being ground down by the knowledge that my work wasn’t making the kind of difference I wanted it to. I have some fancy awards and great figures to put on my CV but this was about something bigger - how was I going to contribute to the world is a better place?
With your motivations clear, and a good understanding of the unique quirks in how you think and work, anything is possible.
My own experiences with the stress and anxiety involved in the world of work meant I knew how unproductive pressure and uncertainty can be without the right support. It’s not surprising that 60% of new ventures fail because of problems with the team. So I planned a career change, I was off to do something completely different, something creative - to become a special effects make-up artist, so I quit my job and took a break while I waited for my make-up course to start.
But during that break, I realized I’d made that decision from a position of wanting to get as far away from my previous career as possible. I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. So I found myself having quit my high powered, well-paid job & having no idea what to do next. I’m not going to lie - the panic at that point was pretty intense!
So, I consulted in my old industry and talked to my clients about their challenges. It quickly became clear to me that Founders face some specific challenges; being alone in an uncertain environment - it can be lonely at the top, with few people you can talk things through openly with, and that through no fault of their own they don’t always find it easy to support their people. Not only are they busy people, the dynamic environment of a start-up means they’re often staffed by a really high potential but less experienced workforce, with less ‘middle management’ to give the kind of hands-on support that makes the most of that potential.
Before I knew it, one had employed me to solve that problem; coaching 15 of their team members. At that time, all I had was a free weekend coaching course to tell me how but that gave me enough confidence to invest in the skill. Two years and a lot of training and coaching hours later I’m recognized by the International Coaching Federation and spend every day helping people understand themselves better & use that knowledge to create the world they want to live in.
Whether a Founder, or a member of their team, people who work with me come away with a clearer picture of what their goals are, and what they need to do to achieve them. Essentially, I help people make really great decisions and take action on them, so whether that’s for a business or an individual that means better results and less time, money, and heartache involved in making those goals a reality.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching the business cost me about £1k (most of which was, in hindsight, unnecessary spend!) and involved three big tasks; figuring out my proposition, creating a website, and connecting with the people that wanted my services and there were lessons aplenty in all three.
When figuring out my proposition I got some advice not to focus on the target audience I’d identified and initially, I took it. After all, the person advising me was ahead of me in my market so they knew best, right? Wrong! For a business to work, it’s YOU that has to believe in it. If you have belief and your customers agree, the rest will take care of itself. That meant I chopped and changed my marketing messages, not the end of the world but there were probably a few early customers left a bit confused!
As for creating the website, the idea that that was necessary was the mistake here. People rarely buy coaching from a website, they buy it based on word of mouth. Creating the website helped me nail my proposition and gave me the confidence to get it out there but it wasn’t strictly necessary. Let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time and money on it.
And as for connecting with people that needed my services - the big lesson here is that there was no need to spend huge amounts of time and money on sophisticated marketing techniques. All my growth has come from my existing network, by being open about what I’m doing and being generous in the way I work with them, they’ve brought business my way meaning I can focus on the work of helping people make the world a more positive place to live.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The biggest thing that brought customers in is them having a visceral sense of how coaching could benefit them and their business; by finding ways to encourage my network to talk about their experiences of being coached by me like the thank you note & gift card I send to people I work with encouraging them to provide a review, make introductions and pass on their thanks to someone in their network by gifting a coaching session, and by providing businesses free support to help them through the scary environment that a global pandemic has created. The accepted position is that you should never give coaching away free, I disagree - so many of those I gave it free to went on to become paying customers or introduce me to them.
When working directly with Founders, we generally work together for around six months, as that's often just about the right amount of time to create meaningful results that they can then sustain on their own, and it's good for there to be a break in coaching so that the time we spend together is focused, often they'll come back after a break when they've identified a new challenge for us to work on together. When I'm working with teams, the relationship is often much longer, as my relationship is with the business but the coaching is with the team, and the team is ever-changing. New people join and new challenges come up so who I work with within each business is constantly changing.
So for retaining customers, this is simple. Be great at what you do. The rest takes care of itself.
Get good at networking, fast. You’re going to need people for two things; emotional support and creating opportunities.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Now we’ve got the basics right, The Mindset Society is about to start doing two exciting things; adding complementary services & scaling up.
The reason it’s called The Mindset Society is because of the ripple effect of empowering people with the knowledge & the skills that they can make a positive difference, if you help one person they go on to help many others. I’m tapping into that with the first new service; the creation of cross-company support networks; taking people going through The Mindset Society coaching and connecting them to create even more sustainable impact and meaning.
The second is providing education on the core skills people need to create positive change in the world, starting with emotional intelligence and resilience. We’ll be starting with workshops on the neuroscience and practice of mindfulness, people will learn the science and be supported to start their own meditative practice.
All this is happening while streamlining what works, I’ve been hands-on with every aspect of the customer experience while learning what works. Now there’s a foundation in place to start bringing more people in to grow The Mindset Society’s impact even further.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I always knew the adage ‘done is better than perfect’ but now it sits at the heart of everything I do; The experience of spending time and money on building a website only for the proposition to keep evolving taught me that the most important thing is constantly putting your product in front of customers and iterating on the feedback. It’ll never be perfect so there’s not much point in trying, but by putting it out there and learning from it, you can get closer than you were yesterday.
The Coronavirus pandemic has also been a game-changer, while it’s effects have ravaged the health and wellbeing of so many, it’s also placed a hefty emphasis on the importance of wellbeing support that truly works. While many employers were waking up to this already, it’s now an unavoidable fact that if employers want their businesses to succeed they need to invest in fully supporting their employees to bring their A-game to work. When lockdown struck, I considered putting the business plans on hold, but instead, I decided to speed up my plans to launch so I could get it out there while people needed it most.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Full Circle Global provided my coach training, through them I connected with a host of wonderful coaches that have inspired me and kept me motivated. I can’t thank Full Circle or the coaches enough.
The Prosperous Coach by Rich Litvin and Steve Chandler was incredibly useful for thinking through my own strategy for growing the business, while I wouldn’t say I’ve copied everything, it definitely helped me know which decisions I needed to make for myself.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Firstly, know your motivations, starting your own business is incredibly rewarding but is not an easy thing to do. And you’re going to be the only person motivating you to do it. Without a really clear picture of why you’re doing it and where you want to get to, the risk is that it’ll become a chore rather than a delight. With your motivations clear, and a good understanding of the unique quirks in how you think and work, anything is possible.
Secondly, get good at networking, fast. You’re going to need people for two things; emotional support and creating opportunities. After my expertise in coaching, this is undoubtedly the skill that’s had the biggest impact on my capability to create a sustainable business. My advice here would be to not think of it in the traditional corporate sense of networking though; this is simply about being yourself, being generous, and being willing to tell people your hopes and dreams.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re hiring paid admin support right now, and shortly we’ll be bringing in additional coaches and specialists in neuroscience and meditation.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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