Starting a business is risky and takes a lot of time and energy. Even the most educated businessperson is not a mind-reader and cannot accurately predict the immediate or eventual outcome of their business. A lot of the time, it comes down to trial and error, a less “scientific” or calculated way of making decisions.
In our earlier columns, we explained how we planned, planned, and planned some more before we launched Redstone. As an industry of planning professionals, we know that even the best, most thought-out plans will meet unexpected challenges and require some creative thinking to tweak courses of action. In this, our final column, we reflect on the past year and we highlight some of the things we tried (in some cases, are still trying) where the outcome was not exactly what we had planned for.
There are so many things to think about when starting a business. Oftentimes you know the “right thing to do,” but your priorities may not align with this. As such, we have a CRM system that we selected but have not yet been successful in implementing companywide. As a startup, everything is being done for the first time, so procedural manuals need to be created, training sessions need to be coordinated and everyone on the team needs to “buy in.” Don’t forget, all of this legwork and preparation is happening while you are trying to stay ahead of your client priorities. At Redstone, the CRM implementation continues to be a work in progress.
At the outset, we experimented with working remotely. Back then, the team was smaller, three to four people, and we thought that being a “remote” workplace would be a draw to prospective team members and clients (flexibility, agility, accessibility, etc.). However, we soon found that this work environment was not conducive to our corporate culture or delivering the best possible results to our clients. We have a very collaborative, team-oriented approach and being in the same physical space has afforded us many benefits. We tried the remote office, we decided it wasn’t working, and we invested in an open office space that has done wonders for team morale and productivity.
Internal Communication Tools.
It’s no secret that event and association professionals are bogged down by email. We wanted to find a way to communicate effectively, in real time with our team. Again, we relied on trial and error as we tested different apps, platforms and tools to help us communicate, brainstorm and share images/videos/documents. We finally landed on one that works on our mobile devices (when we are on the go) as well as on web browser and desktop. Technology is always changing, so while we have implemented something that works for now, we may have to be ahead of the next trend soon.
As a startup, you have to budget for various scenarios: break-even, financial loss and financial prosperity. We had, and still have, budgets and plans for all situations, but as we have made decisions to spend money on certain things throughout the year, we realized we had over-budgeted on marketing. In today’s world, with a little bit of creativity, your marketing dollar can go very, very far. Don’t get us wrong, having money left over is a bonus, but we could have possibly allocated the funds differently. Now we know, and as we moved into year two, we were better equipped with real-life experience to make the necessary allocations and tweaks to our budget.
A lot of things that we have “tried” are still in the trial phase. They appear to be serving our purposes now, but they might not forever. Entrepreneurship is about taking risks and rolling with the punches when the landscape changes, your clients’ needs change and your team evolves. We are grateful to you for reading our column over the last year. It has been a great experience sharing our plans, processes, successes and challenges with you. While this is our last column, we hope you will stay in touch.
– Bailey Roth and Carly Silberstein are the co-founders of Redstone Agency, an event and association management company headquartered in Toronto and operating internationally. www.redstoneagency.ca