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With a fledgling business, moving beyond word of mouth as a new business tool is taking up a fair bit of my thinking time. It’s still my best way of gaining new clients, but it’s not going to be sustainable, no matter how much (or well) I network. I’m not interested in pitching – for one, it doesn’t cover the kind of work I offer through Formation London.

Now I’m in a new realm – heading up a consultancy business that works across an organisation or a specific department. It’s a consultancy that aims to transform the culture, business strategy or communications that already exist, or to help create a new product/service/comms offering. It’s a harder sell. I’m not the cold calling type of person.

Recently, my head has been in Liam Barrington-Bush’s excellent book, Anarchists in the Boardroom. It’s clearly aimed at NGOs and charities, but there is a lot to take out of it for breaking down age-old hierarchies and ‘ways of doing things’, thus creating a more fluid way of working.

However, I’ve never been a fan of doing work for free to prove my worth. Pro bono is different, of course. Someone would be approaching me, and I would decide if there was value in giving up my time for both of us. The value exchange comes down to me. If I’m pitching my time for free, it’s akin to volunteering and therefore it has entirely different connotations.

How Could This Work?
There is something in that thought. Could it be the basis of a good new business tool?

What if I did discrete project work for a few days, paid of course, but with a remit to look at the bigger picture, to speak to people and really find out what the issues are. Also, I would definitely get to learn things, as well as get access to new challenges, and an office environment.

Could it be the thing that opens doors?
I think it could.
Perhaps, I don’t know.
But I’m willing to find out.

I could suggest a number of ways, and they’d all be right – and wrong. I’m going to see how it pans out – but do get in touch if you are, or know of, an organisation that might like to chat.

Here’s to the new business year, whatever it may bring.