In business, there is often a tendency to set goals, chase them down, and then set more goals. Rinse. Repeat. Taking a step back from this relentless pursuit of achievement to take stock of lessons learned, though, is critical.
We see this tendency all the time with our clients working through big transformations. If they become overly focused on getting through what they think of as the “hard part” – the merger, the transition, the restructuring – without picking their heads up, they can miss what’s even more important. Without understanding how that big transformation fits into the overall strategy, there’s a risk that you’re simply going through the motions, making change for change’s sake. There’s almost nothing worse than a checklist untethered from a strategy.
At Audacia, we periodically reflect on where we’ve been, so that we can move forward with our eyes wide open. In that spirit, let’s look at the biggest changes and lessons learned from the past (almost) seven years.
1. The Team is Growing
One of the most visible changes that we’ve made over the years is our growing team. In the beginning, it was hard to think about bringing others on. Sure, I was happy to quietly partner with people I had worked with throughout my corporate career, but the thought of developing my own team… shudder, at least in those early days.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, entrepreneurship doesn’t run in my blood, and the idea of being responsible for other peoples’ livelihoods was scary at first. But, of course, the stories my mind invented were much more terrifying than the reality.
In fact, building out our team of experts, partners, and employees has been one of the greatest joys of running the business. Today we’re 14 strong and growing. Together, we have created a culture of trust and transparency. Because I can trust my team, I have more space to think strategically, and I can focus on the big picture without getting lost in the details.
Not only that, but we’re also able to leverage our collective experience and talent to deliver bigger and better solutions for our clients. And diversity of thought, experience, and perspective, enables us to deliver those solutions to a broader range of clients.
This is not to say we’ve got it all figured out; we are a work in progress. But I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made and excited to see where our path takes us next.
- We are better together.
- Don’t let fear hold you back from making a bold move. (I’m still a work in progress here!)
- Building a reliable support system is one key to being successful as a business owner.
2. We’re Getting Clearer About Who We Are
This change may be less visible from the outside, but it is crucial to finding ideal clients, honing our service offerings, and boosting our credibility – not to mention, strengthening our messaging. Getting clearer on our superpowers and how our values express themselves through the work we do has allowed us to back away from saying “yes” too often.
Over the years, we have zeroed in on what we do and how to position ourselves in the market. Living through pivotal moments in our business has helped us figure out how to help our clients through pivotal moments in theirs as well. We can confidently talk about how we work with organizations experiencing structural transitions including:
These types of transformations have internal and external ripple effects to be aware of from the beginning, but those effects can be invisible to teams on the inside. Our team comes in, gets the lay of the land, and develops a coherent communications strategy to carry you through the transition and beyond.
We provide much more than a coherent communications strategy, though. Developing such a strategy requires you and your team to think through crucial details about the transition and the fundamental changes on the horizon. In strategy sessions with Audacia, clients have breakthroughs that improve operational efficiency, usher in a new era of cultural transparency, and spark innovative ideas that lead to even bigger transformations.
- If you want prospects to understand what you do, you need to be clear about what you do.
- Having a coherent communications strategy is about so much more than communicating well.
- Teams that know their value deliver above and beyond their value.
3. We Answer Client Concerns Before They Have Them
Perhaps the most important change Audacia has made over the years has been the way we approach our clients’ needs. In the beginning, we were mostly reactive. When a prospect reached out to schedule a consultation, I listened to their concerns and devised a solution connecting all of the dots. There’s nothing wrong with this approach. It’s one that yields success for many, including Audacia in the early stages.
However, we’ve evolved beyond this reactive approach. Today we are more proactive, anticipating our clients’ needs even before they have them. When I sit down with a prospect, I listen. I want to hear not only the text, but also the subtext. Our advisory is unique to each client and their situation. We are constantly formulating and reformulating strategies to present solutions for clients in all different stages of transformation.
As a result, we’re adding more strategic value to our clients and we’re more engaged across their transformation journey. Our average client engagement has grown from three months to six months.
We’ve also seen more repeat business in recent years as clients come to value our strategic perspective, ability to “get *ish done,” and tangibly/actually move them forward. Because we have been around the block, we are well positioned to lead our clients through the shifting sands of transformation, and having access to that kind of reassurance in the midst of chaos or crisis can be absolutely priceless.
- Helping clients see around corners is the cornerstone of a true partnership. Often solving one problem leads to another and organizations need help recognizing when this is the case.
- Small shifts in the way you think about client work can have outsized benefits.
Looking back on the early days of Audacia, I can’t help but feel gratitude for what we’ve built. Here’s to setting more goals and chasing them down, but also taking time to reflect and learning from the past.
Photo credit: Business Associates Sitting In Board Room Having A Meeting With Coffee And Tablets by Flamingo Images from NounProject.com