Aug 05

Business transformation by accident

I’ve been looking back at the mix of work I’ve done over the last few months and discovered something – I’m not doing the work I thought I was. At some point, my business changed without me realising. I had a business transformation without planning.


Business transformation can make you bigger but it doesn’t have to hurt

Last year my workload was about 50% consulting and 50% writing. That writing was mainly traditional journalism with a little bit of corporate writing thrown into the mix.

But at some point last year I received a referral to do some workshop facilitation for a major international consultancy. I love referrals – they’re a vindication that you’re doing good work that’s recognised by your clients and peers, and they deliver new business without the need to actively engage in marketing and selling.

Workshop facilitation and public speaking work is a very different kettle of fish to writing. While there is still significant effort in getting your presentation right, and specifically tailored to the needs of the client, it does deliver better bang for buck. In short, you can make more money speaking and presenting than writing when you take into account the time it takes to prepare and deliver the material.

The trigger for business transformation

Business transformation usually happens in response to some changing conditions. Companies that are smart see what is happening around them and transform in anticipation of the changes. A great example is the contrast between Netflix and Blockbuster. Blockbuster had a store on every corner and practically owned the movie rental business. They failed to see the impact downloadable content would have. In contrast, Netflix, which started as a mail-order movie rental service, jumped in quickly as digital content and faster broadband arrived.

For me, the recent downturn in the local economy – which is really about business confidence rather a specific problem in my view – meant that consulting jobs were a little thinner on the ground. I’ve done lots of public speaking over the years and have built a reputation by working on the radio and doing some TV spots. So, when a potential opportunity came up for a workshop facilitation job I was able to prove that I can stand up in a crowd and speak clearly.

That one gig led to several more with that client and I’m now a regular on their roster, conducting about eight or ten workshops per year for them.

I’ve also been able to leverage that into other facilitation and event hosting gigs.

Suddenly I’ve created new business that uses my formula for finding new niches. I’ve found an intersection between my skills, what I like doing and a commercial opportunity.

How to transform

  1. Establish a reputation: I still do unpaid speaking work for volunteer groups that have no money. It’s a great way to hone skills and try new presentation tools and techniques. And, you never know who’s in the audience.
  2. Publicise all of your speaking gigs: Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr – whatever lets potential clients know what you’re doing.
  3. Network: When you meet people, make sure you have your elevator pitch ready. And, as PR and social media expert Catriona Pollard says – update your elevator pitch regularly and practice it.

Business transformation might sound like a big deal. But by being flexible, open to new ideas and prepared, you can adapt to changing circumstances quickly.

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  1. Five things to do when the work dries up - Totally Freelance

    […] I mentioned recently, my business has undergone a significant transformation recently. While writing remains an important part of what i do, I’ve been working at many […]

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