As Mike Tyson once famously said, “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.” Rewind back to March of 2020 and that's what the year felt like for many Australian business owners. Quarter one was wrapping up, everything was going smoothly and then “Bam!” Covid-19 was upon us and a reality on our Australian shores, with the government announcing the cancellation of the Grand Prix. Times were scary, to say the least, not only were business owners worried about the effects this would have on their operations, but also the implications a global health crisis may have on their family, friends and the world.
Being one year into my new business, this unprecedented event was not something we were remotely prepared for. Sure enough, within 24 hours eighteen clients had emailed or called to cancel their service due to the uncertainty. The nature of our business is creating face to face meetings for people. Something not needed in the slightest in this new ‘socially isolated’ world we were thrown in overnight.
Essentially we had two options, 1) concede defeat that our service wasn’t relevant in these new times or 2) stand up against this scary beast, pivot our offering and fight back. So that’s what we decided to do.
The next day, we rallied together as a team and actioned our gameplan. The first step was to call every single one of our clients and talk to them, hear their thoughts and concerns and present our solutions. Our solution was to pivot right into this new covid norm and adjust all our clients’ strategies to ‘virtual meetings’ or the now world famous ‘Zoom’. Whilst our account managers were hustling in the background pivoting each and every client’s strategy, I was banging the phones from 9.00am to 6.00pm non-stop calling our clients and relaying our new plan.
As a team we were in the office till 11.00pm that night, driving these new changes. Everyone was a little scared, new employees who had just started were naturally concerned about their job security, however throughout the entire night we made sure we had fun. The 80’s disco music was blasting, the wine was pouring and together we kept each other positive and even smiling.
Regarding our clients, transparency and communication was key. We had no guarantee or certainty that our new ‘virtual meeting’ plan would work, and we were open about this to our clients. It was an experiment with the single goal of providing value to them during this time. Most clients seemed to exhibit the same attitude and resilience of not willing to concede, like a boxer on the ropes in the final round but still in with a fighting chance of turning the fight around.
Sure enough, times were a little rocky, however as time went by and confidence started to climb again in the market, our original loss of eighteen clients was a speed bump. The experience was the ideal stress test on my business, which has now only made us far more resilient and stronger.
When we gathered together as a team recently, I asked ‘what are the factors that made us successful during that stressful time?’, it was clear how heavily everyone leaned on the values of our company. Action over inaction, presenting solutions & having vision allowed us to steer and adapt quick enough to maintain continuity in the business. Communication enabled us to keep our clients positive and trust us to help their business.
Ultimately, if we took option 1 - concede defeat that our service wasn’t relevant we would have lost the battle against Covid. However, being proactive and resilient gave us a fighting chance and is the reason we made it through. Bring on 2021.
Jesse Kelly is the Founder of J2 Group, the first lead generation business of its kind in Australia. The global company, which launched in early 2019, has a presence in the US, Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia. www.j2group.com.au