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18. Your great new idea may not be so new, but still great January 29, 2010

Posted by Lisa in All, Another job idea, Networking.
Tags: , , , ,

As I review these federal grants, it’s become clear the bimodal distribution in proposal quality.  Some organizations understand how to write, package and present a grant; others clearly do not.

And they don’t seem to realize that writing style and presentation radically affect how grant proposals are received.  REGARDLESS of the actual content and ideas.

Grant writing is telling a story.  You’ve got to set the hook immediately.  Draw the reader in.  Then keep them interested and excited.  While grants aren’t fiction, many aspects of writing fiction can be applied.

My idea – help grant submitters tell a better story.  Or tell their story better.

I talked to my best friend and colleague yesterday, and I relayed my idea about consulting to do assessments and “pre-reviews” for organizations who are submitting grants.  She’s a researcher and grant writer as well.

“Would this fly?” I asked her.  “I know organizations that ask for money probably don’t have the money to pay for a service to improve their grants in the first place.’

I’d already bounced the idea off my father before and he was surprised at my concern. “Why wouldn’t a company spend a little money to improve their chances of receiving funding?”

I asked my friend, “Would you hire someone to do this for your grant submissions?”

She said she probably wouldn’t.  She’s already proven through her funding record that she knows how to tell the compelling story.  I suspected she wasn’t in my target audience, but … what about those who write Ulysses-style grants?  Those who repeatedly get turned down?

But while she wouldn’t need my service, she told me that companies do exist who offer start-to-finish assistance.  Who outline, write, review, guide … everything.

I don’t want to do the whole thing.  I want to offer what I do best – be a separate set of eyes to assess how it would be received.  To provide a comprehensive pre-review.  To restructure.  To rewrite sections or edit if needed.”  After all,  the audience is larger than just scientists – the panel also includes consumers and government officials.  Those who *can’t* assess the gory details, but for whom the proposal needs to be more accessible.

My idea isn’t new, but maybe needs to be executed differently

Kinda like I want grant submitters to execute THEIR submissions differently.

Then she gave me a great idea.  She said, “Don’t make the pitch directly to the organizations writing the grants, make it to the companies who ASSIST the organizations writing the grants.”

Wow.  I never knew such a thing existed.  I wrote all my grants myself.  But, I know how to tell a story and my track record for funding is very good.

Her suggestion made a lot of sense.  I originally viewed my idea as carving out my niche because what I offered was different.  But with that comes all the new marketing, business case development, etc.  Which I don’t want.  She saw me offering my expertise to a soup-to-nuts organization.  A consultant rather than a business owner.  Which is what I really do want.

I want to concentrate on what I do best – the technology assessments. The translation from technical-ese to accessible writing.  Assessing writing, editing, mentoring, etc.  An impartial but technical and research savvy sounding board.

I would never have thought of this idea and it seems perfect.

So I asked her to send me the names of some companies she knows about, and I will research the idea.

Compass Point – Float your idea and test the waters.  While hoping to catch that fish, you might also land the hook remover, filet knife and bucket to get the fish home more easily.  I asked a potential customer if she would use my service.  While she wouldn’t, she knew who others who would.  And she went one step further – she told me how to reach the audience – not directly, but through companies I never knew existed.

18 down, 342 to go.



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