This week we chatted with Jason Bullock, CEO of Numerous, a digital tech company. Numerous has created a consumer data platform where they put customers in control of their own personal data and use it to find great deals from brands they love.
So, it’s talked about every day; COVID-19 (coronavirus). What challenges has is brought to Numerous and how have you adapted?
The biggest challenge we’re likely to face will be fundraising. We were planning our first round when the crisis hit and, while we’re still 100% confident the fundraise will be a success, investors are obviously going to be more cautious. To help reassure investors we’ve taken our financial model and built in a comprehensive risk analysis for different scenarios. We have also carried out a sensitivity analysis so we can see what factors the business is most sensitive to so we can adapt our strategy to manage risk.
What impact do you think good governance has had on navigating these challenges and what initiatives have you introduced?
Good governance can have a significant impact. Fortunately for us, we’d already started working on our business continuity strategy and one of the scenarios we planned for was an office burglary. As a result, we’d swapped all of our PCs with laptops and migrated all of our on-premise infrastructure into the cloud. We also started allowing people to book regular remote working days to iron out any potential problems. As a result, we were well prepared for full remote work and were in a position to send people home as early as February when cases started emerging in the UK.
We also recently had some help putting in best practice for managing board meetings which has helped us seamlessly transition to running these remotely, albeit more frequently now than before.
What three tips would you give other businesses on navigating these difficult times?
Tip 1 - Spend some time planning different potential scenarios, and how you will respond to each of them. We created a matrix that looks at three possible scenarios and the decisions we’ll have to make, as well as the possible consequence of those decisions. We review the matrix every two weeks to make sure we’re adapting to the rapidly changing circumstances.
Tip 2 - Really focus on your team's mental health, and talk about it openly as well, rather than just making it a document you work from. Not everyone wants to work from home, and to do it successfully you need to be able to focus on relationships outside of work. Unfortunately, the forced isolation prevents that and so compounds the risk of mental health issues. We have introduced daily ‘huddles’. We also include exercises designed to help people get to know each other better and organize weekly events. We issued everyone with a FitBit and have weekly group challenges to help keep everyone active.
Tip 3 - Communicate with your board of directors. You’ll likely be making a number of strategic and operational changes over the coming months, so you’ll need them to understand your plans and fully support you.
Will the impact of the pandemic change the way you do business in future? If so how?
It’s definitely emphasised the need for clear business continuity planning. It’s also made us pay more attention to our risk register, and we’re now working on putting a better framework in place to manage it.
We will create a more balanced policy that allows a better mix of office based and remote working.