Ideas or bust. No pressure #92 #cong18

Synopsis:

When the stakes are high implementing ideas can be difficult and your gut instinct can count for a lot.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Trust your gut
  2. Be brave
  3. Don’t shy from the easy choice
  4. New ideas can rejuvenate your company

About Paul Killoran:

Paul is the founder & CEO of Ex Ordo. Fundamentally he is a problem-solving engineer that tries to think a little bit left field, much to the frustration of his fiancé. He is passionate about startups, the tech community and Galway. Random Fact: Before founding his first tech company, he trained as a ballet dancer in London, which probably explains his twitter handle.

Contacting Paul Killoran:

You can follow Paul on Twitter, his personal or work websites or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

 

By Paul Killoran

When you’re the founder of a company, you live and die by your ideas.

In the early years, ideas were wonderful creative opportunities that had no boundaries or risks. As time moved on and the level of my responsibility grew; the pursuit of good ideas became more of a necessity to feed the money machine and less about my own creative endeavours.

Faced with the prospect of leading a company of incremental growth, we made a decision to raise some investment last year. We closed our investment round in April 2017 and we started building products and marketing mechanics to drive growth in our business.

By the end of 2017, I was faced with a very stark reality. Our revenue for 2017 was disappointing and unless something changed quickly, all of our financial models suggested that we were going to run out of cash somewhere in the middle of 2018. The answer was clear. We had to increase sales and we needed to come up with ideas. Fast.

Ideas or bust. No pressure.

For the past couple of years, I’ve always known that our brand and message was wrong. We’d spent years trying to sell to academics based on a brand that was serious, prestigious and intelligent. Unfortunately, despite a lot of hard work we showed modest sales.

Even though my gut was telling me it was time for change, I had enormous self-doubt. I was afraid that making such a change might alienate our existing customer base and cause a decline in our overall sales performance. So I did what most people do when they lack conviction, I hired consultants to tell me what to do.

The consultants carried out surveys and market research on our behalf. They interviewed our customers and asked probing questions. Finally, they compiled all their research and produced a wonderfully animated presentation. In conclusion, they reported, “There’s nothing wrong with your brand. Your customers love your brand. You don’t need to change anything.”

This wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear. I wanted them to confirm my belief and show me the path to success. I was frustrated, my team felt a rebrand was now unnecessary and we were stalled.

We started 2018 with lots of energy and an understanding that 2018 was going to have to be a big year for us. My team organised themselves on the first week of January and defined an execution plan for the first half of the year. And then in the second week of January, I tore up the script and threw the cat amongst the pigeons.

Discarding the advice of our expert consultants, I was intent on following my gut. It was time to rebrand.

My announcement was met with disbelief and resistance. What about the consultants? What about the company plan for 2018? Why are we wasting time rebranding? Why now?

I dug my heels in. I put my neck on the line. I committed my reputation to a 10 week rebrand project, that I needed to deliver on.

Like most rebrand exercises; it was difficult, it was uncomfortable and it consumed a lot of creative energy. But 12 weeks later, we emerged with a new brand, a new message and a new story. On the 26thof April we launched our new brand into the unknown in the hope that it might improve our fortunes.

Today, 6 months on from the day we launched the new Ex Ordo, we can see the effect of that idea and that decision. The traffic on our website has tripled, the number of quotes we receive has increased by about 250% and the value of the deals we’re closing has doubled. And as a result, Ex Ordo turned profitable for the first time in 2.5 years in August 2018. It has since continued to grow its profitability and we’ve high expectations for 2019.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is; despite the pressure, fear and self-doubt, we all need to find the courage to back our own ideas particularly in times of high stress and pressure.

Following through on ideas is easy when the stakes are low. However, it takes a huge amount of courage and self-belief to execute ideas when the stakes are high. The more you succeed, the higher the stakes become and consequently the more courage you need to back your own ideas.

Ideas or bust. No pressure.

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