A Bit of Cake And A Natter

A bit of cake and a natter

Have you ever done this thing where you’re coaching a client and you turn into Richard Branson?  No?  Never done that thing where you try to give them business advice?  If you have, read on!  If you haven’t, it could easily happen – so you need to read on too!

It all starts when you find out they’re self employed

It often happens early on in the coaching when you discover that they have some sort of business – they’re self employed in some way.  And so you start digging around in the numbers a bit.  It then becomes clear that their business is literally making zero profit (or a nominal amount).

So, what do you do?

You find yourself in a virtual Dragon’s Den.  You sit there, like Richard Branson, and, before you know it, you’re in some sort of business coaching session.  You start looking at all manner of business strategies that will help them to improve profits and their bottom line.  “Have you tried this?”  “I know someone who could help you with your marketing!”

And we feel so clever.  Helping this client with their business – like some sort of guru.

But they might not be in it to make money

The thing is, we never actually question whether or not the client even wants our advice.  In reality, it should be pretty obvious – you’ll start to see their eyes glaze over…

But no, you’re off on one.  You’re ready to get some spreadsheets out.  You can fix this!

What we have to understand is that sometimes people have a vocation for the sake of the vocation itself – not because of the business, or their desire to make a huge profit.  It doesn’t matter to them if it doesn’t make them shed loads of money.  They are in it for other reasons.  And what you need to understand is that those reasons are just as valid to them as the money.

For some people, it’s more about the piece of cake and the natter

I’ll tell you a story about my Grandad.

He retired at 65 and he and my Nana used to go and play carpet bowls.  They even clubbed together with the neighbours to buy a special carpet bowls mat.   And every Tuesday at 11 o’clock, my Grandad would get dressed up to the nines in his full suit – the lot!  He and my Nana would then set up the bowls and play a little competition against all the other neighbours.  And the rules were, you had to play with your partner or spouse.

Now, my Grandad was a super-competitive bloke who took the whole thing really seriously – it was really important to him that he won.  He would even have strategies and tactics – it was literally like psychological warfare.

The trouble was, he only bowled every other go – in between his shots, it was my Nana’s turn.  Now, she wasn’t at all competitive.  She only really went along to see her friends.  To her, it was all about having a piece of cake and a natter.  She loved catching up with her friends and hearing all their news and gossip over a nice cup of tea and a slice. That’s what mattered to her.

Poor Grandad.  He would get so angry when she just bowled for fun.  It was almost as though he was saying, “how dare you just do this for fun!  Why aren’t you taking this more seriously?”

We all have different motivations for doing things

So when you’re with your self-employed client, don’t be my Grandad.  Don’t tell your client that they absolutely must take this more seriously and make a profit.  And definitely don’t imply that if their business isn’t making money then it’s not a proper business – or that it needs fixing.

It’s really important to recognise the fact that we all have different motivations for doing things.  And for some people, it might just be the social aspect.  Maybe it gives them a bit of independence.  A bit of social structure – some self esteem and self worth.  They probably just really enjoy doing whatever they do in their business and don’t even need it to make them any money.

If that’s the case, leave it be!

Because sometimes, we just want a bit of cake and a natter.

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