I had a very frustrating lunch today with a self-employed business consultant I’ve known casually for a while.
She’s made a good living from her field for 18 years, but admits the big win has eluded her – the major, longer-term service contract that could provide income stability and serious money in the bank.
She is outstanding at what she does. And she clearly wants something to happen. But she’s been at it so long I think she’s lost the stomach for taking chances – and the will to try new things. I wasn’t trying to sell her anything – just looking for new ideas that would rekindle her passion for the business and connect her with the high-value clients she needs. But despite her current dissatisfaction, she wasn’t listening.
It was very strange. Every time I came up with an idea she told me a story. She wasn’t building on my idea, nor did she pooh-pooh it – she just talked about things she had done in the past. Sometimes it was about a similar initiative she had tried that didn’t work out, but often it was just vaguely related. She wasn’t saying my ideas wouldn’t work (at least, not directly). Just talking right past my suggestions, as if hoping they would go away.
Her evasion got so blatant that finally I pointed out what she was doing. Pointing out people’s flaws to their face is a high-risk strategy, but sometimes I’ll take the chance. (Just ask my friends, if you can find one.)
The consultant considered my feedback. Then, consciously or not, she kept on doing it. She didn’t reject any of my ideas, but continued to ignore them. Most involved only an investment of time, not money, but I guess the opportunities I was suggesting to her were not the slam-dunk she’s looking for.
I have rarely met an entrepreneur so in need of opportunity, yet so unresponsive to it. I think it’s called burnout.
I'll be thinking more about this person, and I'll try to help one more time. Suggestions welcome.