2020: Highlights, challenges and looking forward

2020: Highlights, challenges and looking forward

When the clocks ticked over to 2020 on January 1 this year, no-one could have known what a tumultuous year it would turn out to be. If you’d told the party revellers that within 4 months, the world would be gripped by a health epidemic and borders would close, events would be cancelled, and people’s movements restricted due to lockdowns, they would have no doubt looked at you like you had already partied too much.

As we all know, life looked very different in 2020. However, as SalesFix Founder and Managing Director Jason Lawrence reflects, while there was definitely uncertainty, there were also highlights.

When I think about the goals I, and SalesFix, had for 2020 at the start of the year, they were definitely around continuing to grow to achieve our aim of being a $10 million company at some future date (and increasing revenue and headcount accordingly), as well as working towards our vision to be the preferred Salesforce partner in Australia.

Given we think in financial years not calendar years, our plan for the year was to keep on track with the financial year’s target at the time to achieve these while, at the same time, ensuring that our customers and employees were getting what they needed to grow, mature and develop.

Along with the rest of the world, these plans were dealt a big blow in March when COVID-19 hit. Like many businesses we didn’t escape unscathed with revenue and employee numbers both shrinking by about 30% as a result of the pandemic.

In April we made the gut wrenching decision to ask our remaining employees to make a financial sacrifice in order to keep the team we had at the time. I am so grateful for the sacrifice they all made and am proud that we were able to effectively negate the financial hit they took in April through the year as a result of hard work and good business acumen.

While it was by far our biggest, the reality of dealing with a pandemic wasn’t the only challenge we faced at SalesFix this year. One of the challenges that we continue to have at the moment is really defining our niche. We’ve been generalists in the Salesforce ecosystem since our inception and, as an organisation, we love variety so trying to focus on an industry vertical has been a struggle.

For example, we look after a lot of not-for-profits for different reasons and love helping them out but even that has niches within there. The same goes for the commercial space. We’ve done work for government departments, the manufacturing industry, consumer and retail goods industries, and many other smaller implementations across many other industries as well. We are great generalists, and maybe we don’t necessarily want to niche as being a generalist gives you variety, but it is a challenge we continue to have.

This challenge is something our employees face daily. When our consultants come to us it’s with the understanding that they will be working with different customers and different types of work, which for most employees is a bonus; however it can also be a drawback as one of our recently departed employees noted.

Variety isn’t the perfect fit for everybody and we know that. When we recruit we let people know they’re coming somewhere where they’re going to be interacting with multiple customers in a week, or even a day. It’s different. It’s exciting. It’s challenging, but the learning opportunity as a result of that variety is huge.

One of the biggest lessons we learnt as a business this year was the need to focus on employee’s mental health and the importance of keeping in touch. Over the years SalesFix has been really successful in feeling connected with each of our employees, not just myself to them but them to each other.

While we’ve always embraced flexible working conditions, the move to full-time work from home in March meant we needed to find a way to ensure we maintained connection. We use the virtual workspace, Remo, which allows us to sit in, and move between, different rooms and have general conversations the same as we would in a physical office. We have found this unplanned format works much better from a team perspective than scheduling a meeting through Zoom or Google Meets as you can just grab someone for a quick chat when needed, quickly get advice from the rest of the team, or catch up on really important things like last night’s game or what was on TV.

This really helps contribute to positive mental health for our team which is so important. When restrictions and lockdowns were at their highest, we began monitoring people’s mental health through a monthly survey. By measuring each person against their own individual benchmark, and observing when scores improved or, more importantly, when it decreased we were able to reach out to those whose scores were low to see what we could do to help and support them.

Despite being physically separated for the majority of the year, I genuinely think the team is closer and stronger than we were. The business is also actually stronger from a cash perspective because we’ve worked really hard at focusing on profit and cash to make sure that we’ve got liquidity and security for the team.

I have confidence that 2021 will be a reasonably good growth year for SalesFix, supported by some great team members and new projects, while also maintaining some long standing customers that we’ve had relationships with for anything from two or three years to some that are eight and 10 years old.

Our sales team is on fire and we’ve got six new employees starting before the end of February, including one who will be complementing the sales team through better refined account management, which we’ve been working on and planning through this year.

We’re also excited to be planning a staff conference in Queensland in February that will bring our Melbourne and Brisbane team members, and their partners, together to celebrate and plan the year. Not only will this lay the groundwork and the foundations for another great year, it will also allow us to celebrate and thank both the employees and, just as importantly, the partners for their support of and input into the business.

While we’re hoping for the best but planning for the worst, I am confident that 2021 will be a great year that will see SalesFix moving forward and getting closer to our long term goals.

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