So you want to add multimedia services to your list of services offered--or maybe it's scriptwriting, mobile app development or social media support. You need to hire amazing talent, but you can't get approval because the need for the new service is not yet justifiable. It's a chicken-and-egg situation--you can't offer it until the need is justifiable, but you can't justify it until the clients experience the value.
No problem. Do it anyway...I'm serious. Here are the 3 steps to working under the radar:
1. The key is to start doing the work in whatever way you can fund it--think outside the box; you don't necessarily need dollars for a new head count. If you believe that offering this new service is where the future lies, you're going to need to make some difficult decisions. You might choose to replace the second proofreader with an editor. Or the production artist you wanted to hire will now be filled with a videographer. Your existing staff will need to step up and do even more without those expected hires to ensure that the existing workload is delivered on time and on budget. There are alternatives to swapping out these hires:
- It's possible your client will want the multimedia service so badly, they'll fund the freelancers.
- If you're in a chargeback environment, bring in a freelancer to work on the projects and charge it back to your clients.
- If you're not able to bring in freelancers and charge it back to clients, consider increasing your hourly rate for an "innovation tax" to fund innovation activities such as developing new service prototypes.
The point is, you know the dynamics of your organization; think outside the box, trust your gut, and go for it.
2. Now that the talent has been secured, find that special client who will partner with you. Much like the Creative Brief Ambassador we talked about a few weeks ago, find your Multimedia (or whatever other new service you are looking to launch) Ambassador. Invite them to be the inaugural client, the one who gets to help define the process and protocols of creating a new-in-kind product in-house. They'll love it because they'll be the first to have this presence, which will set them apart as a trendsetter. Everyone wants to further his or her career, so this could be a double bonus for the Ambassador Client.
3. Start. There's no need to ask for permission to do this. You're working within your budget, you're meeting the expectations of your defined role, and now you're doing something beyond expectation. The less attention you draw to this, the better because change scares people. Asking permission can lead to a "no" and then what? You don't want to go against your boss's direction. You're stuck in first gear and can't get out. I'm a firm believer that if you're not hurting anyone, it's ok to say sorry after the fact if someone is offended that you did not seek his or her permission.
The beauty of this approach is you've just played both chicken and egg simultaneously. That's masterful! And now you have an Ambassador Client who will preach to the masses about how great the experience was and product is.
Your boss will be impressed that you made it happen without additional funds, which leads to your next step. Hopefully you've been tracking your workload for a few years. Use these statistics to track the increase in the new service type projects and justify the need for additional staff or freelancer funds. If you haven't been tracking, then it's time to make that a priority and make this an integral part of your standard operating procedures so that you're ready come budgeting season!