Due to COVID-19, many of us are reinventing our businesses to survive. I was fortunate enough to have been forced to reinvent our company in 2017. I hope some of my lessons may be helpful to you now.
In 2015, All Terrain had a goal to become a $100 million agency. After building a team we thought could help take us there, we wound up close to financial ruin in less than two years. To add insult to injury, there were also attempts to have me ousted from my own company! There were mistakes made, bitterness and fear, and then, there was GRATITUDE.
Obviously, I’m standing here as the sole owner, founder and CEO of All Terrain. I still have the company, but after the issues of 2017 we had to go through a total restructure. Today the company is thriving. However, if that situation hadn’t happened in 2017 this business would not exist today.
Below are some of the lessons from our shake-up that we can all take into consideration as we reinvent for a post-pandemic climate.
Large offices and extended overhead are not necessary
Today, most of us are working from home and truly being effective. Those totems and show piece offices of the past are not necessary. Collaboration and communication is what keeps a team running. In the near future, (when we do go back to business offices) some of our teams will continue working out of really cool co-working spaces and love it! Others, who have found balance with child care and different circumstances, will maintain working from home. Look to CEO Jack Dorsey of Twitter who says their staff never has to go back into an office again.
Build teams in real time
In our industry, it is very possible to build teams that are specific to a certain program or client. Toward the end of All Terrain 1.0, we were overpaying people like it was our job to lose money. We were chasing work just to feed the beast rather than seeking out projects and clients that were in line with our values and expertise.
Today, beyond our core team, we build teams of subject matter experts, producers and strategists. These people can be located anywhere, but ideally, they are located near our clients and projects. The people we chose to collaborate with are also within our budgets. This shift has not only made the company more nimble, but has made the work stronger.
Choose people who can pivot with the times
In the past we had a much larger staff. Each person was hired on for a very specific role, some very junior. These people, through no fault of their own, would not have been able to pivot as quickly as we need to now.
Now, we are moving our live experiential campaigns online. We are consulting clients on digital strategy and brand-to-consumer engagements that are safe and relevant to the world affected by a pandemic.
Surround yourself with people who can pivot in real time and are open to new job functions that come with this unknown terrain.
Manifest and Reinvent
As many have consistently said about these last few months, we have had to slow down, and that has given many of us time to think, dream and reconsider new ways to work.
As a business owner, this time has been invaluable for me to be able to get out of the frey of the day to day and manifest what the industry will look like in 18 months. We’ve been able to think of some big ideas that are going to change the trajectory of our client work as well as our company.
Experiential Marketing will look very different over the next two years and we are preparing for it. If we hadn’t had the time to just sit with the situation, some of the ideas may have never manifested.
This is a time of great ideation and bringing creativity to life. I’ve asked everyone on our team to think about the future of experiential marketing and bring ideas to the forefront of how they would reinvent the space. I encourage you to do that with your teams.
Every business from here on out will be forever changed. All Terrain is far from being in the clear, but we are certainly in a good place. A place we would never be had I not been forced to reinvent in 2017.
A situation I thought would ruin me became the thing that saved me and All Terrain.
I hope you can find your way through this challenging time and realize it offers you a chance to reinvent and renew your companies. I am here to knock around some ideas with you, should you need a fresh set of eyes on your business.
Brook Jay. Relentless Visionary. Founder, All Terrain Collective.