One year ago, many of us were saying good-bye to our colleagues, who we were used to spending all our working hours with. We looked into an uncertain future … when would we be together again, what might happen to our business, and how would we be there for each other?
Not what we had planned! We started 2020 ready to continue growing. Ready to continue hiring more curious insight pros to support our clients.
As the months progressed, the impact was clear. element54, like most research companies, experienced revenue declines. And thankfully, it was not the type of decline like companies in other sectors were facing. We weren’t a restaurant, hotel, salon or gym. We all continue to feel great empathy for those sectors.
I made a promise to our team in March 2020 that there would be no layoffs, wage reductions and certainly no cuts to our team. We hoped we could live up that goal. And as a privately held business, I’m grateful that we were able to make business decisions which aligned with our values.
Here are the 3 critical things to help your business persevere and grow during uncertainty.
1. Don’t give up faith.
With that fork in the road in March, we:
- invested in training to strengthen and broaden our skill sets,
- updated our brand identity, website and client facing materials,
- launched a podcast and insight series,
- started a #FridayGratitude series of regular donations, which has included 20+ charities from coast to coast.
This helped bring the team together in new ways, motivated by learning and a common purpose.
2. Realize it’s ok to focus on short term planning temporarily, while still keeping an eye on the longer term.
We all love to plan. We crave the forecast, the strategic options, the long game. Then we had to literally start planning day-to-day. We were already a nimble company, and thankfully, already particularly well suited to pivot quickly. We did so many times, on many projects, and many business issues.
On a positive note, it strengthened our ability to better balance the short and long term needs of everything around us. While we continue to invest in both our growing team and the platforms/solutions to empower the team to do great work for our clients, we are even more nimble, in part thanks to the requirements of the past year.
3. When you have a team that cares, they care about everything and everyone.
Leading with empathy came more naturally to all of us than we could have expected. I confessed to the team recently that at first, I was not sure how the whole remote/virtual would work out. With our team now spread across 4 cities, they all proved me wrong. They worked more closely, despite being apart, and I’d even say the quality of our work is stronger than pre-Pandemic levels. I’m so proud of the team and their empathy for each other, our clients, partners and our entire business ecosystem.
Where are we now?
The place we wanted to be a year ago! More senior hires, more technology partnerships, more new clients and more exciting work from our many existing clients. This is all thanks to the support of our clients, partners, e54 colleagues and their families – who have helped us not just survive … but to emerge 1 year later a stronger business than we were a year ago.
The next phase is exciting – we will continue to grow, continue to delight our clients, appreciate our partnerships and support each other.
But we’re doing so differently than we did a year ago.
We’ve changed for the better as people and as a business – and continue to have tremendous optimism for what lies ahead.