Well…because it doesn’t!
That dress on a popular discount site? Nope.
One size jeans? Definitely not!
Planning for the curriculum in schools? Nah.
The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to meeting any needs? NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!
No matter how good your ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is, there is always going to be someone for whom it doesn’t work. The reasons for that are simple. We are not all the same.
During my 17 years in schools, I have never yet seen two settings work in the same way, despite teaching the same curriculum, with the same expectations, maybe delivering teaching through the same philosophy. This is because every individual is just that – individual – and it follows that every mix of individuals will be different too.
It’s becoming ever clearer to me that this rule applies to starting and running a business too. I thought I had a really clear idea of the steps to building a new business. I assumed that if I followed these steps closely Anchor Wellbeing would just happen.
When I started out, I had decided how it was all going to work. I would offer bespoke courses, training sessions and one-to-one work to schools at a competitive rate that wasn’t taking advantage. I understood intimately the cost and budget implications the education sector is currently straining under, and believed my insider knowledge would really help me. I still believe this. I understand exactly what schools need to prove both impact for children and justification for financial outlay.
But the world rarely works like that, does it? That would have been way too easy. In truth, despite the raised profile of mental health and wellbeing in education, there has been no true access to appropriate funding to make this happen. Along with a controversial and oft discussed cuts to school budgets, education settings just don’t have the room in their budgets to employ people like me, regardless of how reasonable my fees are.
Cue: THE BIG RETHINK
Something else I am becoming intimately aware of, and yet more images of me with my head in my hands wondering what on earth I’m doing! Then, along came Caroline Leon to the rescue. As one of the Therapist Business Club’s valuable experts, she specialises in Conscious Business. To quote her: “Imagine for a moment a world where business was a force for good rather than greed.” Just like that, I re-focused.
You may remember that my driving force is making a system I no longer believe in work better for my children and my husband, and everyone like them caught up in education. And so, a new plan was hatched!
I have been lucky enough to receive the offer of work from a well established and growing social enterprise which will involve writing and delivering a training programme to a large international business. There is a view to grow this training scheme to deliver to the corporate world on a much wider basis. I had previously been reluctant to take on corporate business, so passionate was I about making a positive change in schools, and this definitely being my comfort zone.
But the rethink and new plan had me looking at the much wider picture. As things stand, I can’t make enough money to sustain my business just by working in schools and with education professionals. I started to look at my ethical and moral standpoint and realised that to make any difference at all, my business had to fund itself and me. The truth is that the money is in doing the corporate work. I am fortunate enough that my delivery system for this helps make money, not just for me, but for a business that I am also passionate about, whose funds go back into improving the mental health of the community they serve. That has to be a win-win situation, right?
But how do I still make the difference to the people I originally started all of this for?
By being able to pay my bills through the corporate work I do, I am in a much better position to offer free, or significantly reduced sessions and workshops to schools. I have also thought carefully about how I can make what I do more ‘mutually beneficial’ to the schools I work with and am currently in negotiation with a setting whereby they provide the venue, I deliver the course, we charge a reduced price for ‘twilight sessions’ after school and split the money we make. The proviso for the school is that the money must be used to fund their own wellbeing programmes, while those who attend get quality training at an affordable price. This is an idea still being worked out, but it has helped to refocus me on how to make my business ‘conscious’ but still pay those pesky bills!
I still don’t think it does. Your conscious business has got to work for you, for your business and for your target community. That’s a lot of different individuals to cater for. What works for one business may not work for another. It’s no good giving away free sessions if you can’t make your accounts balance at the end of it. Spend some time reconnecting with your heart led vision and remind yourself that, rather than thinking outside the box, we can throw the box out altogether. As Caroline Leon says: “When we change the way we do business, we change the world.”
Get out there and change your world!
I would love it if you headed over to Caroline’s website and read her blog – Conscious business and why it matters. I’ve just signed up to the Conscious Business Collective and can’t wait for more inspiration!
My general plan looked something like this:
- Provide the things that we as a school were desperate for but couldn’t find.
- Charge a reasonable and competitive amount that wasn’t taking advantage (like big business so often does when charging schools)
- Be adaptable to the needs of every school, as every setting will need something different – be truly bespoke.
- Be open to ‘freebies’ and throwing in little ‘extras’ – I’m still doing this for the children!
- Give feedback that allows schools to justify their expenses – impact for children, justification of costs etc, at no additional cost the school.
Originally, my plan was to tailor my services to the needs of schools and deliver specifically designed training and support to the education sector. The problem here is that this is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. And we know how I feel about that!
As always, if you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them! Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bye for now!
Raegon Guest – gal on the ground!
About the Author
I’m Raegon Guest, your ‘Gal on the Ground’! I’m a new-start therapist and I’ll be following the member content and providing feedback to you and the team. I moved from my teaching job to become a stress management consultant. I now work with those in the education sector to implement stress reduction strategies for staff, children and families.