I’m not great at following recipes, but here’s why it helps my business

I love to cook. Okay, the one-year-old and lockdown juggle might be holding me back a little right now, but mostly I enjoy the creativity of preparing meals.

And that’s just it for me: the creativity. Like a lot of things, I’m in it for the creative flair, and sometimes that doesn’t necessarily work out in my (husband’s) favour.

I want to be able to just throw in a dash of this and a dollop of that. I want to be able to sense when the souffles are done. (I’ve never actually made souffles, but you know what I mean.) And I want to be able to play around and produce something yummy that everyone enjoys.

Sometimes it works. There are dishes I can vary depending on my mood, like a risotto with a select combination from the fridge and cupboard, or a slow cooked casserole. Usually, I can play around with these meals because I’ve learned the recipes by heart and made them many times.

Because guess what I resist, literally and metaphorically, in the kitchen and in life? Recipes.

Friends, I do not like being told what to do.

Partly, hello, I’m a rebel. Partly, I want to be able to intuit the best formula for a dish.

But you know what helps me to learn how to cook and discover the best formula for a dish? Recipes.

So what do recipes have to do with business?

You might have guessed that – just like this recent post about cake – there’s a food-based metaphor going on here. (I just love a metaphor, especially a food one.)

Just like in cooking, there are recipes in business, too. Not in exactly the same way, but pretty close. Processes, structures, templates, tips, and step-by-step instructions. Using things is art and science, formula and instinct, logical and creative.

Just like in cooking, you can discover a process in business and once you’ve got the hang of it, you can play around and make it your own. (Or even write it from scratch in the first place.)

Let’s say you want to be able to create a delicious marketing offering. You can learn about how to create different types of content – photos, videos, written pieces – and schedule them. You can follow some suggested recipes and guides. And as you practice, you’ll learn your favourite flavours, and the ones your family (customers) love the best.

Maybe you’ll find some crowd pleasers. Maybe the first time you make a souffle, it won’t rise. (Chances are.) But maybe on the third attempt, it’s just right: perfectly light, gooey in the middle and a little crispy on top.

I love reading about marketing and business. It’s a bit like browsing Pinterest or a good cook book for foodie inspiration.

There are also times when I find a recipe I want to learn by heart, like a basis for making my own granola (that was a pre-baby obsession) that I can mix and match when I like.

My game-changing recipe realisation

Realising and accepting that recipes are in fact helpful and not something I need to rebel against has been GAME CHANGING for me. The structure they give me allows me to be at my creative best. (And yes, I’m kind of talking about business here, not just oat to raisin ratios…)

If you, like me, have realised the value of having a structure and a recipe, I think you’re going to like The Better Business Collective. It has a whole load of templates for sending email newsletters to your subscribers (a VERY worthwhile marketing endeavour), as well as a stunning, magical, easy-but-doesn’t-mean-we-do-it Game-Changing Success Ritual that has the power to level UP your business and your mindset.

You’re oh so welcome in The Better Business Collective if you:

  • Want to raise your business savvy up a level
  • Know that you want to work ON your business rather than IN it but struggle to actually make that happen on the regular
  • Love learning and implementing business and marketing strategy live and in community with other humans in business
  • Are a rebel, like yours truly, and want to get out of your own way 
  • Aren’t a rebel, but would love to unlock your potential and create your own version of success

Let’s get cooking, shall we?

The whole damn cake

A few years ago, I was in a relationship that – it turned out – didn’t really work for me. In many ways it was fun and exciting and adventurous, but something was amiss. The guy I was with was kind of aloof, and it felt like, no matter what I did, I didn’t get the love or time or affection I really wanted.

My coach at the time, Rachel Cole (whom I adore), is all about living a well-fed life, and she had the perfect food-based metaphor.

She said, “You feel like you’re gathering up the crumbs from under the table, when what you really want is the whole damn cake.”

Well. Rachel put words to something I had been feeling intensely, but hadn’t been able to articulate. I hadn’t even known I was allowed to want anything other than what I had. (This, for the record, is one of the moments that made me fall in love with coaching…)

In fact, it felt like I’d been wanting the whole damn cake my whole damn life: relationships, work, friendships, family, food – everything.

It wasn’t just this one relationship in which I was gathering the crumbs from someone else’s table. The metaphor applied to almost everything.

This was probably the moment I woke up from my frustration in my job, and started wanting to ask for the whole cake in my career (which brought me to starting my own business…).

I share this story because I’ve heard variations from my clients, too. They want the whole damn cake: the support they really need, the success they really deserve.

We can be guilty of making do with just the crumbs in our businesses as well as our love lives, thinking we don’t deserve even a slice.

Or maybe we kind of forget that there even IS a big old cake available, we’re so used to crumbs.

Like me in that relationship, we have to figure out how to ask for more. (And sometimes we have to go someplace else where they sell cakes, because it turns out that this place doesn’t have whole cakes available, or perhaps not the flavour that we really want…)

If you feel like you’ve been gathering crumbs, I invite you to grab a notebook or have a conversation with a friend, and perhaps consider the following questions and ideas, designed to help you ask for, discover, or even bake your own whole damn cake:

What does the cake you want right now look like? If you take the metaphor as far as you can, what do you want from the sponge, the icing, the decorations? What flavour is it? What ingredients does it use? What could these things mean to you?

When you see the cake, take the first bite, enjoy it over a few days – what does that feel like? What would be different if you went from gathering crumbs to having the whole damn cake?

How could you ask for the whole damn cake? Would it be asking for the help you really want, carving out the time to be creative, pricing your products appropriately? Or perhaps something else?

How could you learn to make your own cake? Maybe you’d learn about cultivating your audience and making your marketing really effective so that you get the results you want. Maybe you’d learn about scalable income or wholesaling your products. Maybe you’d learn about adding in strong foundations to your business so that it becomes really enjoyable and satisfying to run (aka eat!).

I share this story and these prompts because we all deserve to have the whole damn cake. We don’t need to scrabble around on the floor for crumbs, left over from someone else’s perfect cake.

My job is to take clients from feeling frustrated, feeling stuck, and feeling overwhelmed to feeling confident, clear, and courageous. Normally this requires heavy doses of defining success on your own terms – making up your OWN recipe, rather than following someone else’s. (You like the darker chocolate for the icing, right? Or the frosted rose petals? Or maybe a perfectly ripe, perfectly organic lemon drizzle…)

The cake, to me, symbolises more joy, more fulfilment, and having business and life in flow.

How about you?

Now even more so…

How are you, friend? Where are you on the rollercoaster right now?

Like many, I’m up and down, exhausted and hopeful, trying and then resting. I’m incredibly grateful to be home, safe, well, with my humans. I’m grateful to be able to show up here on my blog, occasionally on social media, and for my clients and groups.

The conversations with clients and the things I’ve been thinking about have often brought moments of “This! We need to think about THIS!” shortly followed by, “But we have always needed to think about that…”

I’ve started naming it the Now Even More So principle.

Here are some examples:

Comparison

We know, don’t we, that comparison is the thief of joy. Right now, it’s not only the thief of joy, but also the thief of sanity and survival.

While real life is kind of shut down – shops are closed, we’re not going out – the internet is very, very alive. And some of the internet is amazing, supportive, truly great.

But I know that for many of us, comparison has increased dramatically. We’re looking to our peers and our leaders and our favourites to show us what to do. We’re not sure what we should be doing. And so we slip into a comfortable groove amongst all the uncertainty:

We compare ourselves to others.

Friends, if this has been you, and most likely is has been, I offer compassion. It is natural to compare. It’s sooooo easy. But no one is you. No one has your exactly skills or experience or situation. And no, you don’t have to keep up with anyone right now.

Whatever you can do to reduce this very human form of self-torture, prioritise it! Don’t drive yourself insane.

Money

I think this is where a lot of us have been hanging out, too. The money worries.

Again, we can worry about money at the best of times, can’t we? And yet Now Even More So.

Clients who don’t usually worry about money are freaking out. People who’ve been in business for a really long time are struggling. Because none of us have ever been here before.

I thoroughly recommend working with an accountant to get the best financial advice for your business, and reviewing the government’s guidance on what you are eligible for.

Know that any situation you’re in right now is not your fault. It’s really easy (for me, too) to blame ourselves, to think that we should have prepared more or that this has hit us harder because we messed up.

This is not your fault.

Any time we worry about money, it hinders creativity, which is ultimately how we get out of sticky situations. The aim, as ever, is to release the worry – or at least put it on pause – while you allow your wisest, most creative, most resourceful self to be in charge.

You have survived. You may need to make hard decisions. You may need to ask for help. But right now, you just have to make the next decision, the one right in front of you.

Discernment

There are, on any given day, about a billion possibilities. This is still true. There are SO MANY options available to you.

I find this a comforting and encouraging thought.

But it also means we have to flex our discernment muscles. During normal times (remember them?), we practice discernment and prioritisation. Well, Now Even More So.

Discernment isn’t about making perfect decisions. I repeat: this is not about perfection!

It’s about choosing the things that matter to you, and the things that don’t. Sometimes, it’s about choosing ONE thing that matters most, and letting others take a back seat for the time being.

It’s about saying no to one thing so that you can say yes to a better thing.

Discernment is a muscle. It requires head and heart. In these uncharted waters, we need both Now Even More So.

What else?

There are more of the Now Even More Sos. Imposter syndrome, focusing on one thing at a time, grieving past decisions, creating community, marketing with authenticity… Not to mention environmentalism, activism, dismantling the patriarchy and white supremacy. They needed our attention before, and now they need it even more.

We’re still going. Even if you business is on pause or hibernating or becoming a different size or shape, you’re still going.

Even more than before, it’s vital that you believe in yourself. That you keep putting one foot in front of the other (even if it’s right back into bed). That you live closer to your dreams than your fears.

Support

I’m running weekly live calls through my Progress not Perfection membership, which is currently Pay What You Can. Join us on Mondays at 12pm, and get access to past recordings and resources when you sign up.

I’m also putting together a directory of small businesses who are still delivering, offering freebies, or sharing services. Add your details here.

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