I miss it.
I didn’t start this business so I could run it remotely.
I started it because people are my passion. I love hosting events in the Jolly Orange Bar, I love taking clients to dinner, I love getting to spend time with our team and members of The Change Society.
Having all that taken away was really hard — particularly when we entered lockdown 3 in January.
Back then it felt like we were all having to just ‘hang on in there’.
But things are changing.
During the pandemic we’ve all had time to think about our businesses, reflecting on what works well and things we need to change or improve. Taking the time to get your business in good shape now means that when the big day comes, you’ll be ready to spring into action.
Embrace digital to change
Lockdown hit some sectors worse than others. But even when non-essential retail shops were forced to close, those who had embraced digital were prepared to thrive. Fashion retailer Boohoo saw a 40% surge in sales and acquired brands like Coast, Warehouse and Debenhams. While Primark, which has no ecommerce function, experienced a £1bn hit to its revenue.
In the new world, I believe it’s the challenger brands who will ultimately win because they understand how important digital is to meeting the needs of their future customers and employees.
The World Economic Forum agrees, predicting that digital delivery will feature heavily in our post-pandemic future as brands take advantage of ecommerce, subscription-based services and automation.
Already you see these challenger brands embracing digital to take the lead over well-established companies in every sector — from Starling Bank where users set up a free business current account online in minutes, to AirBNB, which is now a mainstream brand in the hospitality sector, and Netflix, which has completely changed the way we consume (binge-watch!) TV.
Change your ethos
The one thing that all challenger brands have in common is that they solve problems because they dared to question the status quo:
Why does it take 2-hours to open a current account? And why should businesses pay for it?
Why can’t I have cheap accommodation right in the heart of the city?
Why can’t I watch back-to-back episodes of Mandolorian?
When we started S&S it was because we wanted to end the trend for failed change. So we dared to be different.
Rather than send in highly proficient orators, we hired ex-C-level executives and directors who had sat in our client’s position and understood how challenging change could be. We flipped the model, so rather than build-up to a big reveal in 3-years’ time, we deliver value cycles every 90-days. And before we even embark on a change initiative, we first assess how change ready that organisation is — because if the strong foundations aren’t in place, change is always doomed to fail.
Not long now…
We all have reason to be hopeful about the future. The pandemic has shaken up the world of business and made customers re-evaluate what’s really important. And as the world re-opens you need to be ready to spring out and take advantage of the new opportunities it presents.
But for now, you just have to keep going a little longer.
For me I’ve found the most useful things I can do for my business is to keep the vision alive. As the CEO you set the course for the ship, empower people to get on and support them to succeed. In times of crisis it can feel like you’re constantly fighting fires, which is why it’s so important to keep the team focused on why they chose to be on this journey with you in the first place.
I’m really looking forward to the day when I can welcome everyone back to the Jolly Orange Bar and share a drink. The feedback I get all the time is how useful our events prove to be, because people can take the value immediately back to their business. Lockdown hasn’t stopped our events, but for now we have to keep them online.
So will I see you on Wednesday 21st April at 5.30pm as our panel discusses people, strategy and leadership, and how you can affect change with each to ensure your future success?