Grand Designs for Your Small Business

Blueprint-150x150When it comes to Channel 4′s Grand Designs I am uncharacteristically behind the beat. I have watched only a handful of episodes (and been inspired by them all) and I confess I have also had cause to write to friends who I know are fans and complain about Kevin, bless him.

There are about 150 episodes of Grand Designs which have been filmed over the last decade. My limited exposure means I have probably watched about five to ten percent of that output and boy is it addictive!

And whilst Kevin may be easy on the eye, at least at the start of that decade, as I say I have had cause to complain about him.  He’s what my mother would have called a Jonah. If anyone ever listened to him, they’d simply cancel the project. Fortunately for us, the viewers, they do not listen to Kevin. Or maybe some of them do and simply sling him off site? I’m enjoying that mental image right now.

A starry-eyed, relatively optimistic home-building newbie has a plan – a dream – to build their own home. Quite often the plan is a bit sketchy and they are mostly not qualified to do this. They either have a budget which they exceed almost immediately and with a contingency fund which is far too small, or they don’t have a budget at all. Frequently what they plan to do has never been done before, involving either new technology or prototypes. They are fearless, fearless I tell you. They just get stuck in, and more power to them.

And then Kevin arrives on site with his negativity hard hat on. He says it can’t be done or it will look ghastly or some such “helpful” remarks. Fortunately the dreamers take no notice of him whatsoever or they put on their ear defenders so they can’t hear him and they break ground and something of great beauty rises from that hole in the ground and is eventually completed or as near as dammit. I find them completely inspiring and now want to emulate them, something I thought I would never say. Build my own house? Are you barmy?

Kevin keeps up his depressing monologue throughout the build until the final phase when he suddenly makes a switch, forgetting anything he has ever said before and praising the builders and the house in ever more creative ways. It’s rare that Kevin doesn’t like the finished product, although I have seen one of those, thinly disguised.

How frustrating is this? Not enough to put me off the programme but sufficient to have me shouting at Kevin long before the first ad break. Thank goodness the visionaries just push on regardless, paying him no heed. But given that they do, you’d think he would have twigged on by now, after 150 episodes? Or is this an inherent part of the magic that is Grand Designs, shouting at Kevin the Jonah?

Kevin’s coaching style is exactly the opposite of my own. His “clients” have a vision they are sure they can achieve despite Kevin’s doubts, negativity, unhelpful comments and 100% lack of support. Kevin does his best to put them off their game.

Go Creators! Just imagine what they could do if I was their coach. [Or perhaps I should be Kevin’s?]

My coaching style is to believe in my clients’ vision before they can see it fully themselves and shout encouraging, positive and helpful thoughts and ideas from the sidelines while cheer leading, supporting and falling in love with them and their project. I am not quite as away with the fairies as some of the wannabe builders, but I’m not far off. I certainly have far more in common with them than I do with Kevin. Kevin’s clients achieve their success despite him.

I wonder what goes through the self-builders’ minds before they apply to have their Grand Design featured on the show? “Shall we have that Jonah Kevin McCloud round here, with his TV crew, casting doubt at every turn through what will already be the most stressful months and years of our lives?” Have they completely lost it? Clearly the answer is a resounding “No!”despite what excellent telly it makes.

Because, honestly, they’d be better off calling me – and I know nothing about building – but I believe in their ability to achieve whatever they put their mind to and I can already see a glorious end result, despite the vagaries of the building trade, the Great British weather and the inevitable glazing delays.

What it all comes down to is this; an adventure. A Great Big Adventure. Risk. Going for it with no idea what the outcome will be and surrounded on all sides by naysayers and numpties. I could not be more excited or thrilled for the brave and adventurous starry-eyed ones as they take up residence in their gorgeous new home, and deeply envious.

And how does this differ from our entrepreneurial ventures and being self-employed? Not at all in my book.

I hope you have planned a great big entrepreneurial venture for yourself and for your business and that I can continue to be – well, not your Kevin McCloud exactly but what Kevin would be if he and I swapped bodies and lives and personalities.

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One Response to “Grand Designs for Your Small Business”

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  1. I must confess that since writing this piece, I have discovered Kevin McCloud in another guise. In a short series of 4 episodes where he built his own shed in the woods, the “shed of his imagination” as he kept on referring to it, he exhibited no signs of negativity whatsoever when it came to his own plans and prowess. He turned into a creator, an experimenter, a pioneer, and a funster. So Kevin, I don’t take all of it back, Me Old Love, but some of it. I’ve seen your flip side and it’s great! Good on you, re shed. I am also a shed owner, The Abundance Shed, the shed of my dreams. In fact, your little shed project has inspired me to make more of my own beautiful shed in 2014.

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