GUEST BLOG: Dickie Wilkinson seeks a bedfellow

Whilst I have dashed form party-to-party and sped my way across town from one dinner date to another I have never considered the act of 'speed-dating'. How can one expect a prospective partner to plunge the depths of my shallowness in just a few minutes? It would take them that long to get over my dashing red trousers.

Yet here I was at the School for Creative Start-ups, a roomful of lovelorn hopefuls trying not to look desperate but all knowing that we were looking for the same thing.

Like burning cheeked debutantes, we sat looking timidly into a middle distance as Master of Ceremonies, Doug Richard described how he could help us sell ourselves and make ourselves desirable to other, bigger, more dominant companies looking for fresh ideas and innovation.

I suddenly had a premonition of 'Master' Doug, top to toe in leather pimping my wares in the window of his business premises, my Dickie Wilkinson cufflinks turning into shackles reflecting the light of the bare red bulb. A strange hand wafted something in a bottle under my nose and I…

…I came to, concerned faces all around me, a kind colleague waving smelling salts in my face. I reached for my handkerchief and patted my brow recalling my father's advice never to go into trade.

How dare Doug, the one man I thought understood us, knew our deepest darkest secrets now exploit us like this? Turning us creative virgins into business whores!

Oh how wrong I was, like the irrational histrionics of a jealous paramour I had misjudged the scene. Fortunately the ever-wonderful Doug acted like a charming suitor, brushing aside any images of subjugation by sharing with us his knowledge gained from both his success and his failures.

Doug explained to us the value of partnerships and how start-up businesses often underestimate what embracing a more experienced partner can offer. Doug encouraged us to seek partnerships that may help with channels of distribution, spelling out that distribution can entail awareness, support, research and purchase.

Some of the business start-ups in the room had already taken the first tentative steps in relationship building, and their stories were both reassuring and enlightening. Business start-up was one such company.

Ecomodo is a sort of lending library for stuff: lawn mowers, stepladders and somewhat bizarrely twelve replica daleks. Ecomodo founder Tracy Currer has already taken her idea further getting into bed with the famously efficient Wandsworth Council.

Tracy convinced them to set up a lending scheme within council departments, powered by her site, to discourage profligate spending on occasional use items that could be easily shared.

I fingered my bowtie thoughtfully wondering if borrowing a dalek would enhance my image in any way.

Hannah Needham, who has founded, provided our relationship-starved group with another example. TIYK is a listing site with a twist where local people are asked to recommend local businesses/events/places ('lovely local things to see and do').

It encourages communities and businesses to support each other's activities while posting them on a site that has a nationwide audience.

Hannah is cleverly embracing her customer and channel as one. The power of individual recommendations garners support, which in turn makes readers potential reviewers of places and recommenders of things.

A savvy insight and one I am happy to be betrothed to as I will be contributing my own favourite perambulations, prandial pleasures and purchasing pastimes over the coming months on TIYK.

Like forming a relationship a business partnership works best when it both parties are being nourished by it. Channels offer visibility and partnerships can offer both large and small companies a symbiotic relationship.

Then Doug mentioned the magic word 'truelove', advising us to seek out worthy partners and investors, to value ourselves as discerning professionals and not beer- goggled desperados.

From being a roomful of lonely-hearts that had despaired of ever finding 'The One' we suddenly realised that by setting out our advantages and displaying our assets to their full potential, we, in fact, were the catch.

Marrying ourselves to people with business acumen we wouldn't be ending up as lonely spinsters, but as equal partners in a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship.

This was no dark Freudian dream of business degeneracy, but a Mills & Boon romance of harmonious togetherness. Like the initially reluctant heroine of such stories, we raised our chins up in fierce, independent determination as we whispered breathlessly; 'I do'.

So I ask you all dear readers. Consider if your business could benefit from partnership. Consider how our economy needs ideas in which we can work together to prosper.

Consider just what a good business relationship can be and finally consider could you do with a bit of Dickie's style, wit and penmanship in your business, if so then why not woo me?

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