Monday, January 30, 2017

Lessons From The Layoffs 02: Get Over Holding All Business Meetings at a Coffee Shop

In this age of the mobile office and work-from-home entrepreneurs, coffee shops may be a good way to initiate a meeting with a new client or have a quick face-to-face catch up with a co-worker, but --

holding one's business meetings regularly at a coffee shop is not a long term business strategy.

Holding one's business meetings at a coffee shop is not a substitute for an actual office (whether that's at home or rented in a commercial space.)

Let me illustrate --

I enjoy writing at coffee shops. There is definitely something about sharing the space with other people who like coffee and treats-to-eat-while-drinking-coffee that makes visiting a coffee shop GREAT. I've definitely been inspired in and have written and planned out work-related things in coffee shops a lot. So yes, DO support your local coffee shop (and clean the table up after yourself before you leave!)

I've also had great meetings in coffee shops. When you think about Nashville and how spread out we are (and are further becoming as rents and house prices go way up past the median of affordability for the average worker/business person) it's crucial to have an "in between" location for friends to be able to meet and catch up.

Having an in-between location to meet would be especially necessary then, for business associates who are probably otherwise both working from home. Maybe your co-worker is allergic to dogs, or there really aren't enough chairs around your dining room table to seat who all need to discuss plans going forward. Or maybe it really isn't appropriate to meet your client at your house. All of these examples are legitimate reasons to need to meet at a neutral public place.

Nonetheless -- let's face it -- there's only going to be so much really in-depth business planning you can do in a public place when you involve one or more people beside yourself, and this is the long-term strategy point I'm trying to make.

Starting up a home-based business is the dream of many, and in some circumstances it can be run from home always. There are also times a home-run business spins out and grows to where it can be moved into a commercial space. The distinction and timing can be clear-cut to the small business owner, though not always.

However, in these layoffs I'm bumping into curious hybrids of the coffee shop business meeting that are like seedless fruit: convenient, but leaves nothing behind to replicate itself and thus feed the future (of the company).

This "seedless" coffee shop business meeting hybrid is where the coffee shop meeting is the main office meeting. Always. What this shakes out to really mean is:
        1. Entrepreneurs are not taking the time to develop their business in a timely manner. 

        2. Company Supervisors are not understanding that "supervising" actually means assessing their workforce in order to utilize each person to the best of their capabilities. 

The coffee shop meeting is just not a great long-term strategy. In-depth planning takes time, and means discussing company issues that are really not appropriately discussed in a public space. A public meeting by its very nature cannot truly provide the time for in-depth planning mobile workers.

We're not talking micromanaging, we're talking discussing goals and schedules, which necessitates impartation, which sometimes necessitates "taking over" a room -- and that just cannot really be done in a public place. This is why companies have conference rooms.

This isn't how everyone operates but I've seen enough to recognize it's a slippery slope. And it contributes to the illusion that there is communication happening -- and we have enough people in management positions who don't seem to understand what management and communication means. Which that in itself is another post ...

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