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The growth mindset: Business leaders discuss how to build resilience and optimism during the pandemic

Written by Latifa Yedroudj on Thursday, 25 March 2021. Posted in Scaling up, Interviews

What is the best mindset for growth?

The growth mindset: Business leaders discuss how to build resilience and optimism during the pandemic

What is the best mindset for growth? 

On the first day of Elite Business Live, Josh Wintersgill, Founder of Able Move, Nick Dormon, Managing Director of Echo, Marko Ilnicic, Group Chairman of Vistage and Saasha Celestial-One, Co-founder of Olio sat down with our host Oli Barrett in the commercial business growth panel. The group spoke about the challenges of expanding a business during the pandemic, the right mindset of growth, and the unexpected opportunities present amid this mass uncertainty. 

Saasha, the Co-Founder of OLIO spoke about how the pandemic saw her take a turn with her business, leading her to explore new gaps in the market to serve the rising demand from customers who wanted to help and give back to the community during these challenging times. “We saw more sharing in the first five months of the pandemic than we’ve seen in the first five years of OLIO, so it was an absolute explosion,” Saasha said. “We are not quite 10 times the level of activity that we were pre-pandemic. I think we’ve had lots of people who thought food sharing and household sharing is something they wanted to try at some point but they’ve just kept procrastinating and then people all of a sudden are at home, acutely aware of their own surplus and perhaps the needs of the members of their immediate community and it’s such an obvious time to try something to help. It’s a very tangible way to help and to give back... It was a real outbreak of altruism, not just COVID. We also have leaned into some new opportunities that we wouldn’t have predicted. So, we saw our members at home baking, crafting and starting all these side hustles... We had to really adapt and pivot and lean into opportunities. Even though the core business was going strong, there were still other opportunities that were really exciting. 

As the pandemic brings about new opportunities for businesses to explore other areas of revenue and growth, Piers has advised business owners not to lose focus on the core of their company and veer off too far. “But the point is, don’t forget the mothership, the core business,” Piers said. “Too many people go off on this exciting tangent and they may have a cash engine, and they suddenly realise that’s not going to plan. Because anything new, it doesn’t mean that there will be success in the future. So always remember to look after that core business because you may find that when you go back to it, it’s no longer there and you’ve got a serious problem.” 

Marko Ilnicic, Group Chairman of Vistage, spoke about having the right mindset as a business leader, and why it is important to communicate effectively and be a strong role model for your employees – even when times are tough. “As a leader, you’re effectively in a goldfish bowl. Everybody’s watching you. And whilst they appreciate for many business owners and many people who are running their businesses right now, a lot of what their interaction is through to their employees is virtual. But your tone, your body language, how you’re dressed, how you’re showing up, I would say it’s gone under the microscope even further now. It’s exacerbated. They’re looking for small signals – is the business in trouble? Are they in control, are they optimistic? Are they worried, should I be worried? I think being super vigilant as a leader, particularly in the current climate is really important in terms of how you are showing up.” 

He added: “What I’m not saying is wear a mask, what I’m not saying is just bravado will win. On the contrary, people will smell a rat a mile away. It doesn’t matter how wonderful you think you are; you will not act your way out of this. So, I think it’s very important that you are humble, you are honest and you are having meaningful conversations. But I think it’s how you go about doing that which is the really important element.” 

Josh Wintersgill, Founder of Able Move, spoke about how the pandemic has switched his mindset into becoming more forward-thinking and “resilient”. “Because I come with a disability background you naturally have to adapt to change all the time and I was having a conversation the other day with someone around tech and how correlated technology and disability actually is,” he said. “And it teaches you different things, and I think for me the three key areas that I focus on is being forward-thinking about what does the future look like, how is it going to impact me and what do I need to do to be prepared for that. Also, resilience, I think you need to be able to take setbacks and understand that setbacks might be coming and be able to take them on the chin and get back up and keep going...” 

The pandemic has brought not only a wave of changes when it comes to the running of a business but has also changed the way business leaders manage their teams. Nick Dormon, Managing Director of Echo, has given his staff the liberty to make their decisions and more autonomy in day-to-day tasks. “We’re moving from a mindset of directing our staff to mentoring our staff,” he said. “It’s actually a big change, so we have people coming to us asking ‘I have these three things I’d like to do, which one should I do?’ And we’re now saying, come to us and say what you’d like to do and then we’ll talk about it, and then you go for it. It’s a slight mindset swap but it puts them in charge. Then you get things happening from the roots all the way up through your business. It’s very exciting.”

About the Author

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj has joined the Elite team to fully immerse herself in the business side of journalism, a strong passion of hers cultivated from young having co-run her mother's start up business since she was 18. Her interests lie in a wide range of subjects, including start ups, business, travel, and anything entrepreneurial she can get her hands on. She has worked for some of the biggest names in journalism including The Guardian and The Mirror. Follow her on @latifayed on Twitter for her latest journo rants.

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