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Catching up with Tara of Solution Revolution: Content, Confidence and Authenticity.

We’re marking five years of Buzz Project and as part of that, we’re catching up with some of our former small business clients, reflecting on the work we’ve done with them, and finding out how they’re getting on now.

Our first catch up is with Tara Gretton, a Solution Focused Practitioner based in Bath. 

Tara’s the Founder of Solution Revolution, which brings together solution focused practitioners from across the South West of England. She’s also a Trainer and Consultant, Director of Solution Focused Trainers CIC, and Co-Founder of The Blossoming Family and Breathing Solutions. 

You can listen to our conversation on SoundCloud, below, or read the interview below.


So we’re taking a little look back at some of the working relationships I've had over the past five years, and one of those is with Tara Gretton, who joins us today.  I've worked with Tara a number of times over the last few years, and we're good friends. For those who don't know anything about what solution focused practice is, as I understand it, you’re using positive language to build on people's existing strengths and encourage self belief? 


Absolutely, yes. Born out of psychotherapy, the SF approach is originally a therapeutic approach, but it can be used across lots of different modalities. It is very much about working towards a preferred future. 

We ask, what are people's best hopes if things were to be a little bit better? What would be happening instead? It’s about the presence of what's wanted, rather than the absence of what's not wanted. 

And the language, as you say, is really key - we don't use problem-focused language. We build on people's existing strengths. So it's about being curious, finding out the details of those strengths, and then amplifying them. Utilising them, in order for people to achieve a preferred future. 


Do you work a lot with children and young people? 


Yes, mostly my work is with children and young people. In more recent years, it’s mostly with secondary school children, adolescents. I work with some primary age children too. So it is a really versatile approach, and it can work with any age. I work with families as well, and with adults in more of a coaching role. So my work is both school-based and in private practice as well. 


If you were to look back over the last five years, what would you say have been the real highlights, or notable events, in the work that you're doing? 


It’s a really, really interesting question. I suppose, when I started, I'd been using the solution focused approach for 20 years, since I qualified as a social worker, which is where I first learnt about it, and then I went into education and work started. That's when I started working for myself, having worked in social care for years. So it was a completely new thing for me, to be in a position to to promote myself, to promote a business, and for people to hear about the solution focused approach. 

Because of the ‘focus’ in solution focus, people, at times, have thought that it is purely about positivity, that it doesn't necessarily address difficult issues, and it might not be the right fit for things like trauma, which is not true. So I think, over the years, for a combination of reasons, solution focused practice has become more well known, even though it has been around since the late 70s/early 80s, and had been in the making for many, many, many years before that. But I think now people can see the benefits, the usefulness of a future-focused approach, that it's not about being problem-phobic, and that it's really applicable in any setting.

I suppose, in having this conversation with you in particular, Liz, it makes me think about how that [communicating the benefits of SF approach in any setting] has happened. Thinking locally, and from my own perspective, and how that's been shared with people, and how that's been promoted in order for people to understand it and then be able to access it. 


So, the communication element is really important here, isn't it? Just like with any business trying to communicate the benefits of its service, you need to make sure that people understand it fully and don't misinterpret what you do. You have to be able to communicate what you do accurately and make sure that message gets across.


So we've worked together a few times over the years, firstly on developing your blog, Tara, and developing some content ideas for that. And then we worked on your website together, making that bigger and with fresher content, as the business and your work grew. You've done other bits of marketing too, over the years. What would you say have been the most effective activities for you in terms of marketing?


I would honestly say - and it's not just because I'm talking to you in this moment! - it 

is having somebody alongside you to support you. Because first and foremost, I am a solution focused practitioner, a therapist.  It's not something that I was familiar with [doing].

And it’s not only promoting myself, in terms of my business, but fundamentally, it was about sharing something that I believe could make a huge difference, not only therapeutically to people, but just generally in people's lives.

The solution focused approach can make a real difference in people's lives. The solution focused approach will do you no harm, you know. To invite people to think about what they want, to build on their strengths, to build people's self-efficacy. I think that's a really wonderful thing to be shared. 

But not knowing how to share that, how to communicate that, in relation to marketing - [I had] absolutely zero experience. And that was something that I definitely found difficult. And you know, perhaps on reflection, if we'd been working together earlier in my business, then perhaps things would have happened more quickly in terms of promoting it. Because I think having somebody alongside you who knows what they're doing in relation to marketing and how to communicate a business, and what that business believes in, and what it's about - 

yeah, it just made all the difference. 

I think over the past five years, I would say it's a combination of things, but it has grown far greater than in the previous five years. I've been running my business for 10 years now. So I really think that has made a real difference and has really helped.  

And to give you the confidence to do it, and in a way that I felt really comfortable with - because it’s not about self promotion. It's actually about something that, at the heart of it, will make a difference to other people's lives, potentially. 


Yes, I mean, obviously we are not selling a product here, it's not a commercial business. This is about helping others, first and foremost. And so it's more about communicating in the right way, and growing confidence in doing that.  Whenever I work with people, it's about helping to develop their confidence in certain areas so they can do that better themselves after they've done some of it initially with me. So totally with you on the confidence thing.


Okay Tara, with a business head on, what's the best bit of business advice that you have ever been given?


Yeah, that's a really interesting question, and I don't think it would necessarily be advice, 

per se. I remember when we had our first meeting. It was around doing the blogs. I remember that we got together and did a real kind of brainstorm of everything.

I mean to somebody like yourself, that might be a really obvious thing to do, but that was such a useful exercise, not only for you to get to know me in the business sense, and what solution focus was, but for myself, to give myself space to have a really true sense of: Actually, what is this about? And what is the message, and how is that going to be communicated? And I think that that has always really stuck with me. Taking time and really exploring things, giving that space to explore and understand what the business is, that made a real difference to the content of the blogs and then how the website was developed. 

I mean, how would you describe that from your perspective, if you were to put that into a piece of advice? That was a really good business experience that I had through you, that made a real difference. 


Well, that's good to hear. Yeah, I think it's really useful to do that and I've done it with a number of clients, where you sit down and you put some time aside to think about your content properly. Content is a word we hear all the time, whether it’s for our blog or our website, social media, whatever,  but we're often so busy, we're all rushing to come up with an idea for something to post that week. What should we talk about? And it takes a bit of effort to take a step back and think about it from the audience's perspective and plan stuff.

And think about what people actually want to hear. What's the problem or issue that I can address? What is going to be really genuinely interesting to my audience? And just spend a bit of time coming up with lots of  ideas, writing them down, and having a regular thought process around content development. It’s really useful. It's really good to know that was helpful.


And if someone was just starting out on their own now, doing what you do, or any kind of small business, what advice would you give them?


Obviously some people starting their own businesses might have marketing comms experience, you know, but I think if you don't - I'm selling you here, Liz, but there - but actually invest in working with somebody who does know, because I think that it just makes so much more business sense to do that and to to help with that confidence, because it's a really nerve-wracking thing to do!

And often, I'm doing it on my own most of the time. I do work with other solution focused practitioners but in terms of promoting Solution Revolution, that's down to me. So I think to share that with somebody and to share it with somebody who knows [is good]. 

I think if I’d done it earlier, it would have made a really useful impact, and would have probably reduced a lot of worry, a lot of anxiety around ‘how do I do this?’. Whether my business would have been more successful sooner, I don't know, but I think that would be my thing! 


At first the blog was a big focus for you, and developing that thought leadership position was integral to what you do. And that does take some confidence, doesn't it to be able to to own something and say, okay, I'm an expert in this area. 


Yes, and that's made a massive difference, they’re still read. And as things change and evolve, the posts that I now put on LinkedIn and on Instagram, it is because of those blogs. It gave me the confidence to write more.

And doing it with somebody and somebody who really knows what they're talking about in terms of marketing and comms made a real difference. I don't think I would have done it alone. I wouldn't have had the confidence.


And as you say, things have moved on and LinkedIn is a great platform for sharing newsletters and blog posts and the like, particularly for you and your line of work. I think that's a great platform for sharing stuff at the moment. 


What five words would you use to describe your personal business style?

To give some context before, I don't see myself as a business person, necessarily. But I believe in what I do, and I believe that it, without sounding very sound evangelical about it, that it needs to be shared, you know. And I think what I learned, in working with you, was that actually I could be true to myself, that I didn't have to be somebody that I'm not.

And you know, you can pick your own style. You know you don't have to be. I'm very driven but I don't want to be forceful. I suppose, what comes to mind, is… gentle, compassionate, empathetic, and thoughtful. Yeah, and that you can do that in business. 


You know, I think that would resonate with a lot of other clients that I've worked with. They would have a similar approach to business and would come up with similar words. I think

it's interesting. 


And just lastly, how are things going for you at the moment? And what are your plans going forward?


Things are good. I mean, I am forever busy, which you know in the line of work that I have is  a good thing and, you know, not so good a thing. But people accessing wellbeing services is a good thing. But obviously there is concern about the rise in the need for [these services].

But what I'm really pleased about is, as I said previously, it's not just about the solution focused approach being applied in a therapeutic setting. It's applicable across every setting, and it can be really relevant to people in their everyday lives. And as my training has evolved, and the more I talk about solution focused approach, particularly in training, is that it's experiential. And what I love is that when people experience it, when they have a conversation with each other it’s about what's wanted, or what they're noticing about how they've coped with a difficult situation, or how they've managed, rather than talking about what they didn't do. 

Just the difference that makes to somebody - let's talk about, no matter how small, how did we get through that situation? Because we can all list a very long list of all the things that we think we can't do and that we haven't done well. So I think that message, about people having access to that more in their everyday lives, is going to reduce the number of people needing to have therapy. You know, kind of do myself out of the job, but that is what I'm excited by, and feel really passionate about.

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