Resilience in adversity: rising to the challenge during a looming economic downturn

Two months ago in a response to a dip in our turnover, 448 Studio / Forumm set out on its first revenue heavy internal campaign. You can read all about it here, but essentially the goal was to win £75K worth of business in 50 days to keep our company afloat. Today is the 50th day of that campaign; and if we look at that one goal in black and white: we didn’t achieve it.

BUT… this is not what this blog is about.

Even though we didn’t reach our goal we’re still here, because we’ve committed as a team to face the coming challenges head on. I want to share what we’ve learned about our company and ourselves in the past 50 days and how we’ve turned those learnings into an action plan for the months to come.

OK… this IS what this blog is about, here goes

What we’ve learned as a team by missing our 75/50 goal.
  1. Transparency: I mean full transparency on expenses, incomes, salaries and bank balance. These were all laid out on the table allowing the whole team to understand the decisions we were making even if they were hard.

  2. The right team to fit an immediate need: As we neared the end of the 50 days it became clear what was working for 448 and more importantly what WASN’T. This to me is the hardest part - having to let go of great services and people that no longer sustained our core business.

  3. Remembering we’re a start-up: How quickly we can fall into complacency when the cash is flowing and the jobs were piling up - this period of downturn has reminded all of us that we need to be innovative and agile at all times.

  4. Cash flow: We don’t have the luxury of an extended cash runway like some larger organisations. We’ve very quickly come to learn the importance of staying on top of every penny that comes in and out of the business. This also means streamlining our invoicing process and chasing up late payments avidly. It can sometimes feel rude to ask for payments on time, but it’s essential.

  5. Resilience: This is the most important of the five in my opinion, without resilience at it’s core a company and its team will falter at every curveball that comes it way.

We are all dealing with soaring inflation, gas prices reaching new heights, disrupted supply chains, cost of living through the roof, a horrible war on our doorstep in Ukraine and the lingering effects of a pandemic. Funding for SME’s is also becoming harder and harder to find - banks love to give you money when you have it, but when you NEED it they all too often close the vault. It’s not looking amazing for us small businesses in the coming months, and every indication points to yet another global recession.

BUT… this is not what this post is about.

This is about RESILIENCE in the face of adversity. There are two things that binds and builds a strong team, the first one is success the second is the opposite: facing a common challenge together.

The action plan

Our plan for the next three to six months is to lay everything on the table with full transparency to the whole team - take it day by day, cut as many variable costs and overheads as possible, keep a close eye on cashflow and make decisions that benefit the future of the company together. The five points I listed above are key learnings from the past 50 days but are now also tightly knit into the fabric of our team going forward. We’ve trimmed ourselves down to 6 people with the sole focus of facing whatever challenges come our way.

So what are we up to in July?

I’m so glad you asked. We are focussing on the core of 448 which is knowledge sharing, workshops, consultancy and events. 448 Academy will be offering a wider range of workshops and support. We will continue with social media strategy workshops and consultancy but we’re please to be able to add additional topic specific workshops such as:

  • Running a hybrid event

  • How to setup and deliver a successful virtual event

  • Video editing using traditional software and your phone

  • Technical specs for filming and live streaming an event

  • Brand and marketing

  • Audience identification and recruitment

  • Social and digital media advertising

What about Forumm?

Our Forumm platform will continue in its current state, we’ve had to slow down some of the additional development we had planned but it’s still in the pipeline. We are repositioning for hybrid events and have built a small and mobile team that is willing to travel and stream your small / medium event to our platform (or one of your choice). That same team will also be offering video editing event consultancy services.

I’d like to send out a huge thanks to everyone who has shown support to 448 Studio over the past few months. The DM’s and emails I’ve received just to check in, and the advice I’ve been given by other SME leaders has been so valuable. I feel pretty special to be a part of this community of small businesses that are supporting each other and rising to face any adversity that comes our way. I also have so much appreciation to the whole 448 team who has taken everything in stride and continually inspires me every day.

I'll finish with the same quote from the first 75/50 blog I wrote.

Bad companies are destroyed by crises; good companies survive them; great companies are improved by them.

- Former CEO of Intel, Andy Grove

We'll take the last option.