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The Bumpy and Brilliant Ride of 'Pay What You Want'

Well, hello there! Let me introduce myself, I'm Stephen-Francis, chief skipper of Equality Floss, a social enterprise that's brimming with the desire to do some good in this world. My modus operandi is providing recruitment services, but the secret sauce that I like to think makes us stand out in the bustling social enterprise and recruitment crowd is the daring 'Pay What You Want' (PWYW) model.

Now, if you're thinking, "Blimey, that sounds a bit like playing fast and loose with your income," you wouldn’t be completely off the mark. The truth is, PWYW is a bit of a gamble. You see, the whole premise of this model is that our clients – businesses of all sizes, from David-sized start-ups to Goliath-like corporations – determine what they believe our services are worth. And yes, it's exactly what it sounds like: they hold the purse strings and choose their price. The risk is palpable, but as we've discovered at Equality Floss, it's one worth taking.


But the real stroke of genius behind PWYW is when you're left to decide the worth of something, you assess it differently, often looking beyond the bottom line. And I’ve found that many businesses, recognising the social impact of our work, are more than happy to pay a reasonable price for our service. So, in a rather unexpected way, the PWYW model has become a win-win situation for everyone involved.


One of the biggest pluses of the PWYW model, especially for a sprightly young enterprise like ours, is the element of a risk-free commitment it offers to our clients. Think of it as a 'try before you buy' scheme. Businesses, irrespective of their size, can use our services without worrying about upfront costs or long-term commitments. Instead, they get a first-hand experience of our services, can evaluate the value we add to their operations, and then decide what they think it’s worth.


This approach has been fairly successful in at least getting my foot in the door in building trust and loyalty with our clients. It reassures them that we're not here just to make a quick quid, but to provide a service of real value. And the fact that we're still relatively new in the game makes this model an even more powerful tool to attract clients. They can test the waters with us, risk-free, and this has undoubtedly played a huge role in quickly establishing a solid and satisfied client base.


Now, you might wonder why we decided to set up a for-profit social enterprise instead of a charity. It's a fair question and one I will write about soon. But to put it simply, it’s all about sustainability. While charities do a tremendous amount of good work, they often rely heavily on the goodwill of others. This dependency can lead to a bit of a tightrope walk, with the worry of donations drying up looming large, especially for a new entrant such as equality floss.


A social enterprise like Equality Floss, on the other hand, creates its own income. This gives us a bit more control over our destiny, enabling us to stand on our own two feet, and making us a bit more resilient in the face of changing economic landscapes. We can steer our ship with more confidence, knowing that we're not wholly reliant on the generosity of others but can generate our own funds, all the while doing the good work, we set out to do.


Looking back on our journey with the PWYW model, it feels like I took a running leap of faith into the great unknown. It was as thrilling as it was terrifying. But here we are, having ridden the wave, and it’s clear that this daring move has paid off, but we have a long way to go. It's brought us the flexibility to serve businesses of all sizes, it's provided a risk-free commitment for our clients which has won their trust, and most importantly, it has allowed us to build a sustainable and resilient social enterprise.


As I press on, I’m incredibly excited to explore new ways to leverage the Pay What You Want model. I’m committed to continually refining my approach, improving my services, and finding innovative ways to ensure a fair shake for everyone. After all, that’s what Equality Floss is all about – giving everyone a fair go, while making a positive impact on the world.


Stephen-Francis Founder - Equality Floss

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