When I wrote my first post for this blog (in July!) I didn’t imagine it would take this long to follow it with this one. In the usual way of early stage business, despite everyone’s intentions and best efforts – it all takes longer than you want. In this case, in a good way.
There’s no point going to market with something that isn’t matched to demand. Also understanding what it is that we could do that is valuable to a potential client and how we might operate the business is worth spending time on. So we’ve worked hard over the summer, talking to potential clients and also to people who understand some of the things we were trying to do at the Centre for Creative Collaboration and looking at ways of how some aspects of the model we developed there could be ‘commercially sustainable’.
The process we’ve evolved has been one of continuously testing our ideas – talking to companies and potential partners we’d like to work with and to people interested in supporting early stage businesses. It has been an iterative and conversational process.
I’ve called this post ‘Defining Demand’ as a shorthand way of describing the process we are going through. We’re outlining a set of services we provide to early stage businesses that can help them accelerate the path to revenue growth – clear targets, measurable and achievable. Support for working capital and day-to-day expenses. More importantly, clear demand for help with customer acquisition and business development has emerged very strongly.
The value in our model emerges over time as our clients grow their revenues – it’s a long term approach. We are looking at structures that align our interests (and rewards) with each client – and it seems that the best way to do this is through a collaborative Joint Venture agreement. We met lawyers today to discuss how this structure might best work.
We’re already working closely with potential clients and funders – so watch this space!
For some time now, I’ve been thinking about how we better support early stage businesses. How we develop sustainable, profitable and meaningful businesses. My experience has been driven by my time at the Centre for Creative Collaboration and , over the past five years seeing:
Many of the people I worked with shared the feeling that existing support mechanisms and schemes may have been adequate in the past but just don’t work now. We have to change the way we think about Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (the so-called SMEs) and we need to re-think the use of the term “Micro” when attached to smaller organisations. We have to look at supporting “Businesses of Appropriate Scale” (“BoAS”) and that will mean changing business support and generation methods, patterns of investment and, eventually, how larger organisations behave.
We have to deliver support that meets the needs of Businesses of Appropriate Scale; are customised and relevant, pragmatic and action orientated. And we need to scale from the ground up. That’s what our new venture, x-innovate, is about.