Often, I’m asked, “Andrew, how did you manage to salvage a $300 million business so swiftly?” Typically, this question is followed by another one: “Is there a principle or practice we can learn from your experience?” The answer is – yes, there is a lot to learn from this story. This business transformation pivoted around a single, influential concept – culture.
My journey with the $300 million business began when I was handed the reins to a declining travel bag company in the UK. This once flourishing firm, a household name in its prime, was witnessing a 60% year-over-year decline. A lack of focus, managerial neglect, and the absence of investment had all contributed to this decline, rendering the company a wilting entity.
Entrusted with my first significant managerial role, I decided to consult Cole Williamson, my mentor. His advice was profoundly simple yet powerful – it’s all about the people. I took that to heart and decided to involve all the 150 employees in our company in a defining exercise.
The task was to identify what we, as a company, stood for. I started by creating a one-page document consisting of 50 words that could potentially represent our identity and values. This document was then circulated among all staff members across our ten locations, who were asked to choose five words that resonated most with them.
Once everyone returned their responses, I collated the results, identifying the top six most-voted words. This step was followed by a country-wide tour, where I met with every employee, group by group, sometimes one-on-one. We discussed the results, their feedback, and collectively decided on our core values.
In retrospect, this single exercise played a significant role in shaping our business. It not only defined our culture but also influenced our marketing strategies, product focus, and overall business identity. This exercise revealed that we were passionate and skilled at delivering sophisticated, long-haul travel experiences, which consequently became our market differentiator and the focus of our marketing and training efforts.
The benefits were twofold. Firstly, it fostered high levels of engagement among the staff who felt included and heard. Secondly, it aligned everyone’s efforts towards a shared vision and a common goal, thereby optimizing our strategies and operations.
When I reflect upon the first year, it’s incredible to see how a declining business with a 60% year-over-year fall started growing and generating profits. More importantly, this turnaround was achieved without substantial capital infusion. All we did was facilitate a dialogue with our employees about who we are and what we stand for.
The lesson from this experience is clear and universally applicable: a company that builds and nurtures a strong culture is a company poised for success. A clear, participative culture creates an engaged team that aligns seamlessly towards a shared vision. In my opinion, such a company has a 90% chance of succeeding.
Whether you are running a startup or an established business, pay attention to your company culture. It might just be the pivot your company needs to revive, grow, and shine. Never underestimate the power of a collective vision and an engaged workforce. They are your company’s lifeblood, and nurturing them can guide you towards incredible success.
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P.S. Whenever you are ready…
Here are three ways we can help you grow your business.
- Get the ‘finish your business’ checklist: The complete step-by-step recipe to have all the ingredients in place to actually finish your business. That means it works without you and gives you a great life. Click here.
- Join and connect with other entrepreneurs that are building great businesses: It’s our Facebook community where smart business owners are learning to get more customers, build winning teams and put their businesses on autopilot. Join now.
- Apply to become a member of BGB: If you would like to be considered for membership and go from working in your business to working on your business… send us a message and put ‘membership’ in the subject line… tell us a little about your business and what you’d like to work on together, and we’ll get you all the details.