Our Story: Choosing a business model
I passionately believe that nobody’s skills should go to waste because they decided to have a family. Or supported another member of their family. Having children should not mean having to start again in the same way that supporting an elderly parent with dementia should not mean having to quit work. When I came up with the concept of That Works For Me…I wasn’t quite sure what to do next!
Early last year I came up with the concept of That Works For Me. I wanted to bring together skilled professionals in need of flexible work with businesses in need of skills and experience. I wanted to bring work life balance to more people, whether they be business owners, freelancers or employees.
But dreaming is easy. Making it happen…not so easy! I had to get on with choosing a business model.
What to do
Having come up with my idea, I did what any normal person would do. Hid in a dark room, rocking back and forth while I tried to decide what I should do next. That lasted about 5 seconds because my dark room was the bathroom and my 3-year old needed a poo.
I took a little time, did some research and gave my idea a lot of thought. In my old job this was the easy bit. I came up with the vision, held a workshop with the people I would need to execute my grand plan and they would go away and do it. This time, I had no people to workshop with. And no people to do anything.
So I did what any girl would do. I talked to my best friend. Handily for me my best friend is the Programme Director for a very successful digital agency. Between us, we ate a lot of curry and we built up the idea until it started to make more sense than my incoherent rambling about dreams and skills. We talked markets, competitors, opportunities and resources.
A while later, over a beautifully cooked Sunday roast (we love an eat and a chat), we talked through the pros and cons of the potential business models.
We considered an online flexible jobs board; an offline recruitment agency specialising in flexible working; a parent-only consultancy; and every other business model you could imagine. The problem with many of these is that lots of them exist already and none of them are a perfect solution to the problem I saw.
Also, there are some fantastic flexible working recruitment agencies that exist already – ten2two , 923, Capability Jane and Timewise – not to mention all the smaller, independent experts I had come across. If the ambition was to bring more people back to work, then surely it would be better to work with them than against them?
Choosing a business model
We went back to exactly what we wanted to achieve:
- Get people back into work on their time-terms, either in a role or as a freelancer
- Bring expertise and skills to businesses, but not in a full time capacity or as an agency
- Help as many people as we could as quickly as possible
- Shout about flexible working loudly and proudly
As location shouldn’t matter for most of these jobs, there was no need to keep to one area. Also, a lot of these businesses would only need to be connected to experts – the rest they could do themselves. Online would be the best way of us accessing the largest population of people the fastest.
We tested the concept by talking to lots of people. It was met with lots of vociferous nodding and I instantly started receiving messages from friends and friends of friends telling their stories.
It looked like we might be on to something!
Fortunately for me, my bestie decided she quite liked the idea and would help me out. I officially named her my COO in my head (she didn’t know this at the time) and swiftly offered her a share of the company. She half nodded, reminding me she already had a very senior job that kept her occupied all hours of the day to which I half shook my head, ignored and welcomed her aboard!
Choosing a business model and a COO. It seemed that this dream might actually become a reality!