How to grow a technology business in a crisis

Jon Pickering, CEO of Tiger, shares his best practices for growing a tech business during a crisis.

Growing a business is no mean feat at the calmest and most ‘normal’ of times but throw a pandemic into the mix and the added unpredictability makes the challenge an even greater one.

Since the first lockdown period in March 2020, business leaders and their teams have been tested beyond the realms of what anyone could have imagined – making business-critical decisions that not only impact the way operations are run in the present time, but well into the future too.

So, when it comes to the how behind growing a tech enterprise when faced with a crisis – should 2022 offer another year of uncertainty.

Embrace change and be agile

It goes without saying that when looking to cultivate a business, leaders have to be open-minded and nimble in their thinking. And in the case of a global crisis, this matters more than ever.

When the market enters a state of flux, nothing can be predicted or presumed – and for decision-makers who are used to being in control of what happens next, this can be a tough pill to swallow.

However, within a state of constant change, an organisation must look to mirror this in some way, to ensure it remains relevant. That is why there is no time to stand still.

If both staff and customers are going to feel reassured and supported, this might see an organisation pivoting its offering to meet new demand or strengthening and improving its existing services. Essentially, nothing is off the table regarding what is possible.

Keep priorities visible and learn from experience

While nobody could have ever predicted the events from the last 12+ months – and how they would impact businesses individually – what is vital for decision-makers is that they always have a plan in place and take any learnings and quickly apply them to their strategic forecasting.

Even outside of a pandemic backdrop, leaders never know everything before they make big decisions about the company’s future – that’s just life. And, while building a cohesive strategy – including clearly defined outcomes and objectives – is naturally a good place to start, the plans that outline how these goals will be achieved are even more important.

During a time of such uncertainty, it’s perhaps easy to over-analyse and hesitate to make decisions, for fear of the outcome not being what was planned, but it’s pivotal that time is allocated to achieve, defend, and evaluate those targets, to pave the best way forward.

Maintain staff morale and motivation

An organisation’s people are its greatest asset – they’re the ones who drive the business forward and understand it inside out. And to effectively evolve a company, workforce-wide buy-in and collaborative team spirit is a vital piece of the ‘achieving together’ puzzle.

In unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever for leadership teams to have one-to-one check-ins with employees and make sure they all feel supported – especially when teams are working remotely – both in and out of the professional working environment.

Equally imperative is that these chats are simply that – a two-way conversation which asks, ‘how are you’ and ‘is there anything you need?’, to help uncover any issues which employers may be able to help with. It should never be a workplace performance discussion nor a surveillance tool to see how productive they are.

Leaders need to show genuine interest in and compassion for their teams, otherwise the business is simply a ship that’s sailing along with unseen holes that are slowly but surely sinking the vessel.

Foster dialogue and staff empowerment

One key thing the pandemic has taught businesses and individuals the world over is to ‘keep talking’.

In order to help workforces to stay focused and motivated, communicating with personnel about their individual targets – and how they can get there – is crucial, as is demonstrating continued investment in staff wellbeing and development.

If teams are working remotely, holding virtual drop-in session talks from third-party experts can be particularly useful, and following through with upskilling opportunities also helps them to develop their strengths and their confidence.

Attitude really is everything, especially in times of adversity and crisis, and empowering employees helps to cultivate a culture that is built upon trust, autonomy, and collective values – all of which are vital for growing a business and helping it to weather a challenging storm.