Interview - Laurent Notin, Entrepreneur Coach and Board Member

Can you tell us about your professional background and how you became a coach for entrepreneurs?

I hold a master in Marketing & Sales from a French business school. I left France 25 years ago, lived 20 years in South-East Asia and moved to Finland in July 2019. My background is in market research and advertising. I managed SMEs of up to 150 people in multicultural environments. I’ve always been surrounded by entrepreneurs. Throughout the years, I developed a passion for mentoring, training and coaching my staff and advising clients. When the virus of entrepreneurship finally caught up with me, becoming a coach for entrepreneurs just made sense.


Where does the name "The Bottleneck Entrepreneur" come from and what does it mean to you?

The biggest risk entrepreneurs face is themselves. Marketing, financial management, sales, leadership are critical skills to develop as a founder but the best entrepreneurs, like the elite professional athletes, have developed the right mindset. Humans are very good at getting in their own way and entrepreneurs aren’t an exception. That’s what I call becoming the bottleneck in the business. There are many ways entrepreneurs can be the bottleneck, but the result is always the same: they get stuck and their business stalls.


What are the main challenges you see entrepreneurs facing today?

100% of entrepreneurs will become the bottleneck in their business, multiple times. That’s because as the business grow, new challenges appear. Some of the major bottlenecks are:

-          Having everything tied around yourself because you make all the decisions. You’re feeling overworked and a backlog of requests or pending tasks is waiting for your approval.

-          Being lost in the day-to-day operations, and not spending enough of your time working on the business strategy.

-          Being unable to let go and trust your people. The results can be devastating: from lacking quality time with families, friends, or hobbies to burnout.

-          Making excuses and procrastinating instead of taking personal accountability. You’re busy moving instead of achieving.


What advice would you give to a budding entrepreneur?

Tackling bottlenecks is the easiest part. The toughest part is to recognize and acknowledge you’re being the bottleneck. My first advice would be to develop your self-awareness, so you can detect the bottleneck symptoms.


I’d also give some general recommendations:


- Learn to delegate, not only tasks but also empower your people to make decisions by themselves. Of course they will make mistakes but who hasn’t?


- Ensure that your role is evolving as the business grows. At the beginning of the journey, you do everything yourself, but you must gradually let go of the operational tasks so you can concentrate on what matters most at your level.


- Block weekly time for strategic thinking, either by yourself or with your team.


- Constantly communicate your vision to your team because it’s the one thing binding everyone around you.


- Don’t make assumptions. You’re not in your people’s minds and they’re not in yours. Tell them things straight and allow them to give you feedback too.


- Take care of yourself. Your health should be your #1 priority (before the financial health of your business). How can you take care of your people if you don’t take care of yourself?


What skills or qualities do you consider essential for succeeding as an entrepreneur today?

There are so many… Consider the journey: Entrepreneurs juggle numerous roles, must rapidly acquire diverse skills, and make critical decisions - fast - under the pressure of ensuring client satisfaction, employee welfare, and financial health. It’s no wonder that many entrepreneurs feel alone.


After 20 years working with entrepreneurs, I strongly believe entrepreneurship is a calling. Either you have it in you or you don’t. There’s no in-between.


If you have it, the key skills or qualities to focus on are: Emotional Intelligence, learning, grit, people skills, humility, communication and discipline.


What are your future projects? And why did you join the board of the French-Finnish Chamber of Commerce?

Today, I focus on coaching entrepreneurs so they can tackle their bottlenecks. My clients are located across Europe. I love my job and I hope to help as many entrepreneurs as possible. I recently started a video series called The Bottleneck Breakthrough where I address specific bottlenecks and give practical tips to overcome them. It’s available on my YouTube channel.

With regards to CCFF, I used to be a member of the French-Cambodian Chamber of Commerce when I was living in Cambodia. I missed being part of such an organization. The new board has many ideas and there’s a great dynamic. We’re very motivated to lead the French-Finnish business community and offer support to French companies wanting to export or invest in Finland and vice-versa.

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