How to create an effective workshop to help entrepreneurs
Here are the four steps to organize a successful challenge solving workshop for entrepreneurs.
Our first tip is to pick entrepreneurs with early stage projects so you can help them better. For our shemakes event we worked with Yushing and Sophie. They both had a specific challenge to overcome which we took the time to frame with them.
Yushing’s challenge was to promote her line of vegan paper and linen accessories, “Shing”. Sophie needed to build a business model for her third place project called “Labifelom” - a new space in Lyon centered on fashion's environmental impact, providing DIY activities for children and adults. A good challenge should be narrow enough to bring concrete solutions, but wide enough to stay open to several unlocking possibilities. You should also consider objectives and constraints that need to be indicated while finding workable solutions.
The second crucial ingredient for a great workshop is to pick great mentors. A mentor is someone who can “unlock” your entrepreneurs: mentors should work in the same sector or have a skill-related job position, and be motivated to help entrepreneurs.
We recruited a team of 6 mentors:
- Meriem, Gaelle and Baptiste working at a sustainable brand called Le Slip Français,
- Catherine, the president of Fashion Revolution France,
- Alice, founder of a creative co-working space called Hall Couture, and Sophie, working as a stylist.
We mixed in our third ingredient: facilitators (in other words: us). Facilitators lead the workshop and facilitate collective intelligence.
We prepared an engaging introduction with ice-breakers so that all participants could get to know each other, followed by a pitch of our entrepreneur’s projects and challenges. This moment is particularly interesting for the innovators as it develops their oral skills and self-confidence.
After the introduction, we opened a safe and creative brainstorming space in order to unlock ideas. This is a key step of the workshop, when entrepreneurs can access many ideas and opportunities. For instance, Sophie obtained contacts of a potential project partner, and discovered new revenue models. Yushing realized that before promoting her brand, she had to define a strong brand purpose. As facilitators, we also helped mentors grow thanks to the workshop. The six mentors feel they improved their skills in project coaching, their creativity, and expanded their network.
The cherry on the top of the cake for our shemakes Challenge Solving Workshop is the venue that hosted us. It took place at La Caserne, an accelerator of ethical fashion projects in Paris. An airy and light space with room to spread out is key, but it was also helpful in this case to pick a venue that already hosts a like-minded business. The participating entrepreneurs got the opportunity to pitch their projects in front of La Caserne’s team, who kept in touch with them after the workshop. Both entrepreneurs gained visibility through La Caserne’s social media posts.
This challenge solving workshop was a great opportunity for Yushing and Sophie to get feedback about their projects, while the activity also acts as a model for future workshops dedicated to enabling female entrepreneurship in the T&C sector.