Top 5 Positives from the COVID Period.
As 2020 comes to a close and we all breathe a huge sigh of relief – I wanted to focus on the positives that came out of the last nine or so months of craziness. Surprisingly – it was a very easy list to put together, and most definitely gave me five new learnings about running a business that I wouldn’t have had a chance to discover (or at least not as fast).
So here they are, the Top 5 positives that came from running a business during COVID (spoiler alert, none of them included gaining expertise status in every single video conferencing platform).
1. Stand Up, Stand Often
As soon as Australia went into lock down, Poplin went straight into stand up mode. Any agile scrum master would have been thrilled with the daily team catch ups we introduced at 9.30am every morning. After a week – we introduced a second stand up at 3pm each day. Some of these were dedicated to solving business problems or discussing projects, but the best aspect of these was the check in we could do with each other to ensure everyone was doing okay over the hardest time during lock down.
Key learning: Communication is key for keeping the team together. Short and frequent trumps long and far between.
2. We backed the right clients
Along with everyone else, we watched the stock market crash and those businesses in retail, travel and finance take an absolute beating. While we were lucky enough to have some clients in the eCommerce and media space going gangbusters, we also had those who really struggled in terms of how to approach the uncertain months. For those clients we’d partnered with for a long time and had a robust business model, we chose to back them and did what we could to alleviate short term pain. Without going into commercial details; we were able to take a hit and help a few out. Even better; those we backed are now able to see the light and are back on track for growth in record time.
Key learning: Know the clients and the people you will back when times are tough. The reward is seeing them come back – faster and stronger.
3. Everyone loves an early comeback – and a share house.
While most businesses in Sydney are only just starting to return to the office; we made the decision at the start of June to test two days a week back together. The positive impact this had on the team was felt immediately as we realised how many issues we were able to solve just by being in the same room.
With the move to five days in the office still a long way off, we also made the fast decision to share an office with another startup in our co-working space. We had Tuesdays and Thursdays, while they took Wednesdays and Fridays (no one wanted Mondays!). With a routine wipe down at the end of each day – it proved to be a cost effective way to keep an office while reducing rent. We’re even sharing a Xmas party with our new office-mates.
Key learning: We made these decisions pretty fast, with the caveat we could always go back when conditions changed. We went against the trend, but it worked in our favour.
Just like everyone else in the world, we jumped on the webinar bandwagon and launched two events. Yes they were hard, yes they were time-consuming and yes we are totally looking forward to hosting #IRL events next year. We did take out some key learnings including ensuring you’re engaging with participants in the lead up to the event, and provide a recording straight after. We also experimented with a few platforms and found that we really liked Demio – including the nice ‘in session’ polls and interactive links you could launch.
Key learning: Webinars are hard work! But – there are so many great SaaS tools out there – try something new, test something out and see what happens.
5. Game On!
Even before COVID, the Poplin team invested time in games, with Friday afternoons the regular time to unwind and challenge ourselves with the likes of Overcooked, Bohnanza and Avalon. With lockdown, we quickly discovered the joy of Netgames.io – an easy way to play virtually. We are now all addicted to Ultimate Werewolf and would like to invite any other teams to join us one Friday afternoon for a session (or five).
Key learning: Find your inner child and game on.