By: Charles Savage, CEO, Easy Equities
Having found myself at the centre of the storm back in 2008 when the financial world came crashing down around us, I know exactly just how tough it is to lead a business in turbulent times.
It took me many years to reflect on our failure, take corrective action and rebuild our business. Today I feel very privileged to be looking in from the outside as we thrive, but I am still desperately concerned about the economic impact on good businesses who were caught off guard by the Covid-19 crisis.
My experience has taught me that it’s hard to focus when everything is failing. But from failure come the lessons and opportunities that will define your greatest success and so it’s more important than ever to focus on a few things that will matter most in a post-Covid world. There are three stand-outs for me that I think will all be central to the DNA of organisations that are able to thrive in and after a crisis:
It’s so easy to put words to your organisation’s purpose in the strategy and mission statements, but it’s really difficult for it to live in the veins of your staff and resonate through your brand to tattoo itself on your customers. When it does it will play havoc with your income statement. The compromise between profit and purpose is real. However, what you may write off in profitability you will win back in incredibly loyal fans who will stand alongside you in building your business into the future. It is also my firm belief that tomorrow’s shareholders will be more demanding on a company’s purpose than its profit and that in striking the right balance, not only will you align customers, but shareholders too. I’d go so far as to say that the future holds no profit for organisations that have not placed purpose at the very centre of their strategy.
If Covid-19 has taught us anything it’s that you can’t pay lip service to being digital. We undertook a deep reflection of where our digital assets let us down in lockdown, which revealed what we had to do immediately to set our business apart. Every aspect of our digital failure was reviewed, every assumption tested, and every solution rigorously evaluated under Covid conditions. The bigger the problem, the more seemingly difficult it is to digitally resolve, the greater the opportunity to truly and lastingly differentiate your business. The excuses made in the past for not going digital are really just entrepreneurial opportunities to solve. In the outcome, the more you digitise, the more likely you will be to thrive.
The world seems to have lost trust in everything and everyone. We seem increasingly focused on spending time and resources on trying to protect ourselves from those we can’t trust. Yet my experience has taught me that you can trust 99% of the people you meet. My simple advice would be to lead and differentiate your organisation through trust; by trusting more in your staff and in your customers you will define fewer rules, attract better people, enable greater workplace flexibility and have happier clients and longer relationships. I strongly believe that it’s no longer appropriate that customers and staff are expected to trust in your brand and business when that trust is not reciprocated. Tomorrow’s great organisations, in my view, will place trust first in others.