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You’ve just graduated and you’re ready for your big dream: your own business. Then the nagging (albeit healthy) doubts creep in: can I do this? Is this the right thing for me? Don’t panic. The University of Amsterdam Alumni Association (AUV) offers graduates who are thinking about starting their own business six coaching sessions with an expert coach who explores with them just how much of that doubt stems from valid concerns. And, even more importantly, how they can use that doubt to get their business off to a good start.

We talk to business coach Roosmarijn Vos. After graduating with a degree in Communication Sciences (1986-1992) she herself became an entrepreneur. So she knows what it takes to make an enterprise succeed. ‘It’s a good idea to discuss your ambitions and plans with a coach from the outset. This helps you make the right choices to ensure that your business gets off to a good start. It’s not easy to pinpoint for yourself why you want something. I help you with this by asking very specific questions.’ 

Deeper layers

Alumni can sign up for a coaching session through the AUV. ‘Clearly, we start with an intake interview. This allows me to see whether we click with each other, whether the person has entrepreneurial potential and whether they are amenable to coaching. We then make six hour-long appointments for face-to-face coaching in Amsterdam. During these sessions we primarily look in more depth at what the person wants and why. People often think: Great! My own business! But what is it that they find so great about it, what’s behind it all? It’s all about those deeper layers. Is it great enough to get you through the hard times? Because it’s definitely not without its challenges. Take someone who’s just graduated and gets offered lots of great jobs. But they want to do their own thing, to build their own business. And they also want to have fun with their friends. It’s a conflict. In the long term, working hard for something you’re passionate about conflicts with the things that you want to do with your friends.’ 

Too much thinking

When does Vos see a red flag? ‘If there’s too much resistance and a person has their foot on the brake too much. It’s always very subtle. Especially with people who have studied, who are used to asking all kinds of questions about things. That’s fine, as long as it doesn’t end up with you sabotaging yourself and postponing things. If people spend too long having second thoughts and being uncertain, then I see a red flag. Spending too much time thinking conflicts with one of the basic principles of entrepreneurship: action!’ 

The AUV Young programme provides recent graduates with coaching, network meetings and mentoring programmes. It allows young alumni to develop practical career skills and gives them guidance on mapping out their careers.