Our latest Three Things Summit, held with the support of our friends at Drayton, focused on SMEs surviving and thriving in 2023. In what was a sell-out event, kindly hosted by True Global at their incredible London offices, 80 All Together members joined us to hear from a panel of leading entrepreneurs, CEOs, and founders, who each offered their case study examples and subsequent actionable advice to business leaders for the new year. Read a summary of the fiery panel discussion below, and keep an eye out for more in-depth analysis of the advice received in the coming weeks.
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Kicking off the discussion was Mandeep Singh – founder of the independent boutique platform and tech start-up, Trouva – who began by presenting a very personal case study, detailing a tumultuous period near the beginning of Trouva’s journey.
StreetHub, as it was then known, raced out of the blocks and quickly rose to prominence, with Stephen Fry lauding the platform on Twitter in 2014, and Mandeep himself even being invited to talk about the future of the high street on BBC News. But after a while, Mandeep realised the metrics he and his team were celebrating were superficial. The metrics that mattered were far from impressive and now that the money they had raised was running low, Mandeep knew the business needed to pivot, and fast.
From breaking bad news to stakeholders to working out which direction to move forward in, Mandeep’s case study was an immensely useful, real-life example to CEOs thinking of pivoting their business in these tricky times.
Ella d’Amato, Managing Director and CMO at True, brought her experience as the interim CEO of Not On The High Street to the conversation on pivoting. Arriving as the new CCO on November 1st 2016 meant that Ella began her new role just as the festive season got underway. It was a period expected to be exceptionally lucrative for the business, but when that failed to transpire, the company was plunged into disarray and Ella was named interim CEO.
Panicked investors, dismissals, and a self-described ‘baptism of fire’ ensued, but Ella was incredibly successful in guiding the business through the turbulence, and passed on much of this wisdom to our audience.
For her, the importance of managing your people through a radical shift in direction could not be overstated. And this emphasis on communication was echoed by the former CEO of Yo! Sushi and German franchise, Vapiano, Vanessa Hall.
Vanessa became the CEO of Vapiano in 2019, just before the pandemic forced the world into lockdown, but even before that, the company was in dire straits. Vanessa explained how she led a refinancing and restructuring – throughout intense public scrutiny – to make sure the business got back on track. She also added that the need to invest in improving customer experience – even when cash is running low – and cutting costs to maximise efficiency are immensely important during company downturns.
Augmenting the entire discussion with a laser-focused level of insight and criticism was our very own NED and Volunteer Advisor, Jules Hydleman. After almost 25 years as a serial chair and NED, there is very little in business he has not seen: from tips and tricks to keep your cashflow healthy, to the nature of the relationship CEOs and chairs should have with each other during challenging circumstances, Jules was a fountain of useful and highly actionable business advice.
There was a vast amount of invaluable information shared throughout the evening, and you can look forward to the very best in of it in the new year with our upcoming content. For now, however, here are three key things we learned during the summit:
A lack of communication is always detrimental to the growth of a business, but never more so than during a crisis. Your team will be a key part of any success you have, and good, honest communication is a vital part of their continued efforts. Maintaining a rapport with your staff helps to ease uncertainty, breed confidence, and feed togetherness.
Yes, it might be a cliché, but drastic times do call for drastic measures, and these are drastic times, indeed. Where can you afford to cut costs? Have you taken an honest look at ‘wastage’ across all areas of your business? What are you avoiding because it’s uncomfortable? Every business leader will face tough decisions in the coming months, and being brutally honest with yourself and your teams will be key to making the right choices.
Put everything on the table.
In times of crisis, you cannot have any sacred cows. If something isn’t working, no matter how dear it is to you, you must recognise that fact and act accordingly. Sometimes this will mean changing, or even abandoning, products, concepts, and even people, but if they aren’t enhancing the overall blueprint of your business, you cannot afford to be precious about it.
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We would like to extend a huge thank you to our wonderful partners at Drayton for helping us bring this event together and to the team at True Global for allowing us to use their beautiful offices. Finally, we would also like to thank all of our members for joining us and our incredible panellists, whose advice and expertise will prove vital to our community.
If you would like to become an All Together member and receive up to 5 hours of advice from our experienced Volunteer Advisors, as well as exclusive content and invitations to future events, apply today.