'This Past Month has Been a Whirlwind for me!' - By Michelle Pritchard

By Michelle Pritchard, Inspiring Enterprise 2016 Student

The past month has been a bit of a whirlwind for me/Find Your Spark, which I'm now looking back at reflectively.  I've spent the last nine months starting up Find Your Spark in Colchester which has meant attending a lot of meetings, drinking a lot of cups of coffee and sending lots and lots of emails!  I am pleased to say that all the seeds that I have been planting over the last six months have begun to sprout and everything has begun to fall into place.

This is fantastic news as after moving from London where I built up a sizeable client list, it has meant starting up from scratch again which, truth be told, has been a lot of effort and struggle at times. There have been times that I have questioned myself and considered getting a job but I am glad I persevered and stuck with it as I feel that Colchester/North Essex/Ipswich is the ideal place to add Find Your Spark’s value to.

I have built relationships with Essex County Council, Eastern Enterprise Hub, Home Start, Colchester United Academy, Key Change Resources, Essex University, Iceni and the NEETSA and I am delighted to say that as a result of their impact Find Your Spark has begun delivering trainings to staff and young people and will begin delivering young people and our NEW adult one to one career and life coaching at the Kingsford Centre.

What I have learnt from all of this is firstly that it takes time for relationships and opportunities to happen so the importance of being patient as a baby is not created overnight, it takes nine months.  Nine months seems to be a critical time for most things, for babies to be born, for the honeymoon period in relationships to end and therefore you realise whether this relationship is going to last the distance AND what I am now realising, for businesses to start up!!

What I have also learnt recently is how important it is to be flexible and evolve/change with the times.  Initially, when I set up Find Your Spark, my vision was to work with just the at-risk young people.  Since then I have realised that the staff need training too so have been offering and training up staff from schools, charity organisations and sports academies.  Then it occurred to me that the crux in all this was the parents and how they too needed support/training.  This was especially true if we wanted the material with the young people to stick as often what they learn during the sessions with us has a chance of rubbing off if the environment they return to is negative.  As a result, we now offer parental training in resilience and wellbeing as well as one to one coaching to them and staff.  So, we now offer a holistic early intervention service, which we hope to start offering to even younger children so that we can intervene even earlier.

It’s also important to be open to opportunities as you never know quite where they might lead but also trusting your instinct when you feel like something might not be quite right.  Otherwise you will end up working for and being partnered with something that on the whole is not in alignment with you or your values, which can prove to be tough to get out of.

I have learnt over the years that people tend to buy into me through meeting me, which is why networking, speaking at conferences and going to meetings is so important for my business model to be successful.

So, in summary, be patient, be open to opportunities, be flexible, persevere and network/meet with people as you never know where it might lead.  I am positive and optimistic that Find your Spark will positively intervene and make a difference in the lives of young people, professionals and parents so that mental health issues, crime rates, abuse and worklessness rates will begin to fall and resilience, wellbeing and aspiration will begin to rise.