In the first of a new series, we look at companies who are surviving and thriving the Covid crisis, and ask them to share their lessons.
Realise was formed by industry stalwarts David Preston and Richard John in November 2016, with the first ever cohort of event apprentices. At the end of its first financial year revenue was just £11,000 with 20 apprentices on the programme. By revenues had reached £118k and 42 apprentices, which had also led to opportunities to expand into corporate training. The trend continued with 2019 revenues reaching £169k and despite the pandemic’s impact on employment and training in the events space, the company has reported 2020 revenues that crashed through the magic £250K.
We asked David and Richard to share their top 10 secrets of their success.
1. We hate the word, but we pivoted. In 2019 we’d been asked to provide onsite support for clients, and as soon as we recognised what the pandemic’s impact would be, we promoted online solutions and offered both the technical and the ‘soft skills’ essential to make these work.
2. We supported our apprentices – and their employers – in every way possible. A couple who were made redundant joined us as freelancers, providing them with an income, skills development and the chance to complete their apprenticeship.
3. We networked, like mad, joining online seminars and reaching out to colleagues, without an agenda. The consequence of everyone homeworking was that it was easy to schedule a 15 minute chat, and from these great ideas flowed.
4. We found that ‘giving’ really does pay off. Whether it was offering coaching and mentoring support, free workshops, or just a sympathetic ear, we put in the time to be supportive. We know that we are in a good position financially, and are old enough to have lived through – and survived – challenging times.
5. We took on work even when we knew it would stretch us; we worked at the cutting edge of online technology and found we had a lot to learn. At the same time we were willing to take on temporary staff; at one stage we had 25 new people on our team.
6. We went out looking for great new products and services that complemented what we offered; we found fantastic partners offering everything from ‘wellness’ to business processing outsourcing and customised these for the unique needs of our clients.
7. We continued to invest in ourselves, signing up for short courses in areas that would help our clients – or just seemed like fun.
8. We continued to invest in our industry, supporting the One Voice campaign and reminding our networks what the events sector means for the economy
9. We remembered to find time to celebrate; we arranged regular online gatherings for our team and found reasons to share successes and challenges.
10. We kept being creative; old ideas which had been put on the backburner were dusted off and re-evaluated with a keen eye; after all, most successful businesses started during recessions. We’re really positive about what 2021 has in-store.
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