// by Colin
18 months ago we sat down on an emotional zoom call to discuss whether or not we should continue the business. COVID was a hammer blow, for us and for many of our clients. We decided that we would suck it up, take time to improve our own business and clearly define our strategy for the future. Where possible, we extended payment terms with clients, adopting the attitude that we are all in this together. We also brought in a business coach, Ruaidhri Prendergast, to help us navigate the course.
‘How to Survive the End of the World’ was the title of a memo our CEO James sent out during that time. It outlined how we could use the coming enforced downtime to take an honest look at ourselves and our business and to make improvements that would see us go the distance and come out stronger on the other side. We highlighted 3 areas where work was needed and put systems in place to set us up for success.
Communication: Be honest, with each other and with our clients, even if it hurts.
No more sugar-coating. Be open, honest and realistic in all of our dealings, both internal and external. This approach, whilst difficult at first, has led to more meaningful relationships with our employees and our clients. We now work with people and clients who share our values and embrace our open and honest approach. This has also translated into clarity on project briefs and a clear understanding of timelines and budgets.
If it does not add value, wrap it up and leave it behind.
In our industry, it can be very easy to fall in love with a client and their idea. Sometimes this can lead to doing some extra bits and pieces, which can give a client the impression that certain elements are included. Managing the client relationship is the most important part of our job, and we have learned that taking a hard line on what is achievable within a given budget is fundamental to a successful outcome.
Go big, or go home.
Starting a business, building an outstanding team and building a reputation are challenging tasks. It requires huge effort and commitment. We made the decision that if we are going to do this, we are going all the way.
When we started this business we had a dream that ‘someday’ we would have an office in Alicante, Spain and also in Bristol, UK. We turned our ‘dream’ into actions. Found out what was required and set about performing the required tasks in a timely manner to achieve it. Last week we finalised the opening of our Spanish office: we have the company registered and trading in Spain. We will open our Bristol operation in February of 2022.
The right stuff.
At Ourside we have a very talented team. Our developers, design team, and content team are second to none. In order to achieve our lofty goals, our leadership team recognised that they needed help in achieving their own goals. Enter Ruaidhri Prendergast and Noelia Hernández Sánchez.
Had Ruaidhri not approached us, I honestly do not believe we would have achieved the massive transformation in our business. Put very simply, he dismantled us and gave us the tools to build ourselves back up. In the process, we gained an understanding of why we love to do what we do and assembled a skillset that empowered us to achieve any goal. Speaking on our work together, he said:
“Colin and James showed great courage when they invested in coaching even though they didn’t have the budget. They showed greater courage in being open to challenge beliefs they held about themselves and the business.”
Ruaidhri offered his insight and support at a time when we needed it the most, and his advice still rings true today:
“The way forward is always there. It’s often really hard to spot it when you’re so close to your business. We chopped down a few trees together so we could see the wood.”
Noelia has been instrumental to the success of our Spanish operations. She has worked with us to get through all of the paperwork and helped us to navigate the red tape. Noelia is a highly accomplished international business consultant and runs Hernandez Sanchez Asesores, a company specialising in helping innovative tech firms scale internationally. We are now expanding our relationship with Noelia to achieve our goals for the Xplore Local Platform and our UK ambitions.
“Ourside is a great example of the importance of having the right people behind the project. Since we first began working together in 2019, they have succeeded in finding the right business model, the right team and the appropriate strategy. They took the time to decide what they wanted to be and how they wanted to achieve it. Their willingness to embrace Spanish culture and understand the way business works in this country will be crucial for a prosperous internationalization.”Noelia Hernandez Sanchez
For Ourside, Covid meant holding up the mirror and asking the tough questions. We have used the time to transform our business and take stock of our potential. We have put structures in place that enable growth and success. It’s been a very difficult period but we used the time to transform our business. Now it’s our time to shine.