The KFA team

Staying Sane & Savvy

Starting a business of any kind is not for the feint hearted. Especially if you join an entrepreneurial accelerator, like the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator, that demands extreme levels of business leadership and personal development that most people have never experienced before. And for which they are largely unprepared.

Truth is, it’s hard, if not impossible to prepare for an entrepreneurial life that pushes you mentally, physically and emotionally. But the most successful entrepreneurs are those who learn and grow personally as they start and scale their business.

Done well, creation of a business accelerator style is a messy and often chaotic process. Imperfection is encouraged, uncertainty pushed to its limits and personal ego foregone to fully empathise with the wants and needs your customers. Add multiple mentors and advisors into the mix and you have a perfect storm of intellectually ambiguity and complexity.

Such creative ways of working can be hard on even the most ambitious and experienced entrepreneurs as humans are not designed neurologically, emotionally and physically to operate in such dynamic conditions. Too much change, too much task switching or fast-paced entrepreneurial effort overloads the brain quickly. If not managed carefully, it can lead to stress, overload and overwhelm.

Lightning Lab takes the health and wellbeing of start-up founders as seriously as it takes supporting the design and build of new business to maximise their growth potential. That’s why all start-up teams are briefed on the essentials of personal and team resilience, and there are routines and rituals baked into the programmes to ensure teams check-in regularly on their levels of mental and emotional fitness. This includes time for teams to have fun and blow off some steam.

To help navigate the inner world of being an entrepreneurial leader, team CEOs are assigned a volunteer executive coach and leadership mentor who they meet fortnightly to discuss personal development and business leadership challenges privately.  This provides CEOs much needed breathing space away from the rough and tumble of day-to-day business building to clear their heads and talk through any personal challenges that start-up life throws at them. What gets talked about is private to the coach and CEO, although we do know having an independent sounding board can make the difference between entrepreneurs just surviving or thriving through the accelerator programme.

There’s actually no breakfast at the CE breakfast… but it’s really valuable to share learnings with other CEs in a guided discussion once a fortnight“—Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator cohort feedback

Even if you have a coach on your side, being CEO can still be a lonely existence so Lightning Lab helps its CEOs to share their experiences with each other with my help as a Leadership and Team Performance Coach. These peer-to-peer conversations play a vital role helping CEOs handle issues, situations and challenges that only other start-up CEOs going through the process together can truly understand. Day-to-day support and encouragement can also be given amongst CEOs via a private Slack channel.

Surviving the maelstrom of starting-up a business relies on the determination and tenacity of entrepreneurs to succeed and their openness to growing personally so they may succeed in business leadership. The combination of Programme staff, mentors, advisors and coaches allows all our Kiwibank Fintech teams the best possible support and challenge to be successful. And, grow personally and professionally in the process.

Julie Treanor is a leadership developer, facilitator and performance coach who specialises in designing human-centred leadership that sparks enterprising, creative and entrepreneurial minds.