Lessons learned and transformational moments | A guide to good business (part 2)

Photo courtesy of Jamen Percy

Getting through tough times and overcoming challenges is all about building resilience.

Resilience to me is understanding that challenges however insurmountable they may feel, will be short-lived. The storm will pass, however, it will be exhausting battling for survival and you need all your mental energy to overcome it. So use that energy wisely, stay focused on the things you can control and ignore the rest.

You need an open mind to see the opportunities you have and to make the most of them. That may take you away from your initial direction so be open to change. Don’t see failure as a terminal blockage to progress but a problem that can be overcome, even if it’s an opportunity to head in a new direction. You are naturally more resilient if you follow your passion, have a clear purpose and are grateful for what you have.

For me, my passion is product design and my purpose is to enable people to live better lives using great products, and I’m grateful to still be alive and healthy. So when the Dragons told me my business was worthless, I knew I had a strong brand with potential — even if a strap hook needed to be made stronger! When the government banned hand luggage in 2006 [after an alleged terrorist plot to attack an airliner] I quickly learnt I needed to control my costs, pivot my marketing message to staycations and export to markets less affected. It’s a similar approach for us during Covid-19 and at Trunki we acted very quickly. There will be opportunities, if not during this storm, then on the other side.

Find out more tips on resilience and beating the odds in life and business in my new book 65 Roses and a Trunki

Rob Law
Founder & CEO, Trunki

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A time for experimentation – While we’ve double-downed on our product, we’ve also been open-minded when it comes to rethinking our proposition given the climate, the coworking office market and the concerns around shared spaces. We’re testing in every domain across operations, community, marketing – experimenting faster than anyone expected and we’ve already launched 5 new products with 2 more ideas in development. It’s shown us that Huckletree isn’t just ecosystem builders, desk providers, we’re also entrepreneurs ourselves. The unknowns and the market flux have ignited the hunger in all of us again.

Be open to real Global listening – Despite social distancing we’ve used this moment of transformation as a chance to get even closer to our members. If you’re a founder and you haven’t participated in global listening or heart-to-heart conversations with your direct customers then you’re missing a trick. Don’t let this be your blindspot, let this be your window to get a real view of their immediate needs – for us that ranged from furlough schemes to cashflow, and how to help teams manage burnout, zoom fatigue and make working virtually work.

Speed matters – By this, I mean conscious and mindful speed, not super-growth-at-all-costs. As a leader, knowing when to focus on stabilising your operations, when to accelerate creativity or when to diversify your product is a mixture of lived experience, art, data and instinct. We haven’t always got it perfect but we’re fast to test, and fast to do tear-downs of what worked well.

Good Karmic Mindset – sitting at the heart of the tech ecosystem, we’re on a mission to help to rebuild and come out stronger. We’ve found ourselves playing a greater partnership and consultative role to help our members adjust, reintegrate and fight back harder. We’re also donating our senior team’s expertise, offering an inhouse social agency, running founder-founder instagram lives, and investing in our educational arm with the launch of our Renegade Academy, a one week bootcamp for new founders. This is not about protecting reputation, this is about values and investing into talent, people and the industry long-term.

Gabriela Hersham
CEO & Co-Founder, Huckletree

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Some of the greatest lessons I have learned throughout my career have actually stemmed from times like the present climate of economic uncertainty. Having been an entrepreneur for over twenty years, I have experienced three global crises, which have been instrumental in shaping my entrepreneurial journey and in driving the ultimate success of our company Meniga.

My earliest experience of a crisis was with the burst of the dotcom bubble, shortly after I founded my first company. While I witnessed first-hand the dreadful impact it had on thousands of companies, I was also inspired by the number of companies which survived the crisis and actually came out a lot stronger from it, such as Amazon and lastminute.com. This taught me an extremely valuable lesson which later became the underlying driver of my entrepreneurial success: the importance of a resilient and optimistic mindset in overcoming a crisis and in finding new business opportunities.

Crucially, this experience had a hand in me finding the inspiration and confidence to set up my latest company, Meniga, when the financial crash hit in 2009. The sudden drop in purchasing power of households and companies meant that a lot of pressure was put on the banks to provide support and relief. Our mission from the start was to enable people to lead better financial lives and it quickly became evident that we could have the most impact if partnered up with the banks to help them help their customers.

There’s no denying that with huge demand for our service and amazing software talent emerging out of the struggling banks, the environment was extremely favourable for Meniga to succeed, but what really helped us get off the ground quickly was our resilience. I strongly believe that being mentally resilient is one of the most important traits to any entrepreneur or leader, and that such a mindset will instill the belief that behind every bump in the road lies a great opportunity.

For any aspiring entrepreneur out there, I’d advise them not to be scared of the turbulent times we currently find ourselves in, but to stay focused and take a careful look at how this current crisis can inspire a business idea that will help solve some of the problems created or set to emerge out of COVID-19.

Georg Ludviksson
CEO & Co-Founder, Meniga

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