TJ, Duncan-Moir MBE on How To Bounce Back Stronger in Business
TJ Duncan-Moir MBE Director and Founder of Business Glu Ltd
Can you start by telling us a bit about your journey as an entrepreneur, focusing particularly on your experiences with setbacks and challenges? How has this shaped your understanding and mastery of resilience in business?
As an improvement specialist at Business Glu, I started my journey as an entrepreneur right at the beginning of the lockdown. This timing presented a unique set of challenges and opportunities that have profoundly shaped my understanding and mastery of resilience in the business world. One of the most significant challenges I faced was launching my business during a global pandemic. The uncertainty and economic turmoil made it a daunting endeavour. Many businesses were hesitant to invest in improvement services during these times. However, my determination and adaptability came into play. I quickly realised the need to pivot my services to address the specific challenges brought about by the pandemic, such as remote work optimisation and crisis management. The economic downturn affected my business, just as it did for others. Companies were cutting costs and re-evaluating their spending. I had to reconfigure my business model and pricing strategies to remain competitive and sustainable. This was a tough decision, but it was necessary for the long-term success of my business. Building and maintaining relationships with clients and partners during the lockdown was challenging due to limited in-person interactions. My ability to adapt to virtual communication and foster strong connections under these circumstances was important. It was crucial to reassure clients that my services were still valuable, even in the midst of uncertainty. Throughout this journey, I've learned the importance of learning from setbacks. If a particular business improvement strategy didn't get the expected results for a client during the lockdown, I took it as an opportunity to analyse the situation, adjust my approach, and use that experience to enhance my services for future clients. Resilience, in this case, was about constant growth and improvement. Adding to my own skills and qualifications during this time means now I am a qualified mediator. Undertaking Marketing qualifications also added other string to my bow.
In the world of entrepreneurship, failure is often seen as a stepping stone rather than a dead-end. How do you perceive failure, and can you share an instance where a failure led to an unexpected growth or success in your business?
I firmly believe that failure is indeed a stepping stone rather than a dead-end. Failure is a valuable teacher, offering lessons that can lead to unexpected growth and success if we're open to learning from it. One specific instance that comes to mind is when I launched a new service during the early days of my business, and it didn't gain the traction I had hoped for. At first, it was disheartening to see my efforts not pulling in the results I had anticipated. However, I've always embraced a growth mindset, and I knew that failure was an opportunity to refine and improve. I decided to dive deep into understanding why the service didn't perform as expected. I collected feedback from clients, analysed the market, and studied the competition. This process led to a complete re-evaluation of the service's value proposition and a revamp of my marketing strategy. I incorporated client feedback and made the necessary adjustments to address their pain points. Surprisingly, this failure turned out to be a catalyst for success. The revamped service, gained significant attention and brought in new clients. This experience reinforced my belief in the power of resilience,. It taught me the importance of listening to your customers, adapting to changing circumstances, and continually striving for improvement in the ever-evolving world of entrepreneurship.
What strategies have you employed to cultivate a culture of resilience within your organization? How have these strategies made your team more adaptable and innovative, especially during trying times?
As a business improvement specialist operating on my own,I've fostered a few strategies for resilience:
Learning and Skill Development: Continually invest in your own learning and skill development. As a solo entrepreneur, you're your most valuable asset. The more you know and the more versatile your skills, the better you can adapt to changing circumstances.
Risk-Taking and Experimentation: Don't be afraid to take calculated risks in your business endeavours. Experiment with new strategies, products, or services.
Networking and Mentorship: While you may not have a team, you can still benefit from a network of peers and mentors. Connect with fellow entrepreneurs, attend industry events, and seek out experienced individuals who can provide guidance and support during challenging times.
Contingency Planning: Develop contingency plans for your business. Consider various scenarios that could impact your work and create strategies to address them.
Mindfulness and Well-being: Pay attention to your mental and physical well-being. Resilience starts with taking care of yourself.
Adaptive Mindset: Foster an adaptive mindset. Embrace change and uncertainty as opportunities for growth and learning. Maintain a positive attitude and a "never give up" mentality.
Feedback and Self-Reflection: Regularly assess your performance and business strategies. Be open to constructive criticism and use it to improve.
You've spoken about bouncing back from failure, but I'm curious to know if there is a methodology you follow to analyze what went wrong and how to correct it. Could you describe your process for assessing and learning from mistakes?
I've got a methodology for assessing and learning from mistakes, which is crucial in my role as a business improvement specialist. My process has been to, Immediate Reflect: When a setback occurs, I start by reflecting on it immediately. I ask myself what went wrong and why. I try to identify the root causes of the issue. Gather Data: To get a comprehensive understanding of the situation.. This includes client feedback, project documentation, and any available performance metrics. Root Cause Analysis: I then conduct a root cause analysis. This involves drilling down into the problem to identify the underlying causes. SWOT Analysis: A SWOT analysis is a valuable tool in assessing mistakes. It helps me identify the internal and external factors that played a role in the setback. Action Plan: Once I've identified the root causes, I develop a clear action plan to address them. This includes specific steps to rectify the situation, prevent a recurrence, and improve processes. Test and Iterate: I implement the action plan and monitor the results. If the changes don't get the desired outcomes, I'm not afraid to iterate and make adjustments until the issue is resolved. Documentation: Throughout this process, I maintain detailed documentation. This helps me track and believe visual is better. Post-Mortem Review: After the situation is resolved, I conduct a post-mortem review. This is looking back at the entire process and evaluating the effectiveness of the solutions, and what could have been done differently. I make sure I don't just bounce back from failure. It's a structured approach that allows me to learn from my mistakes, refine my strategies, and continually enhance the quality of my services as a business improvement specialist.
Many entrepreneurs fear failure to the point that it paralyzes them. How do you balance taking calculated risks with the fear of failure? What advice would you offer to other entrepreneurs who struggle with this?
I've found a few strategies that have worked well for me, Understand the Nature of Risk: Not all risks lead to failure, and some can be calculated and managed effectively. By differentiating between reasonable risks and reckless ones, you can make more informed decisions. Risk Mitigation Strategies: assess the potential consequences of failure and create a plan to mitigate those risks. Having a well-thought-out contingency plan can make it easier to move forward. Start Small: start with smaller, manageable risks. This allows you to build confidence and experience in handling challenges. Set Clear Goals: This helps in assessing whether the risk aligns with your long-term vision. If the potential reward is worth the risk, it becomes easier to make the leap. Seek Expert Advice: Don't hesitate to seek advice from mentors, industry experts, or fellow entrepreneurs who have experience with similar risks. Embrace a Growth Mindset: When you see failure as a stepping stone, rather than an endpoint, it becomes less intimidating. Stay Informed and Adaptive: Continuously monitor the market and industry trends. This information can help you make informed decisions and adapt your strategies as needed. Mental Resilience: Strengthen your mental resilience by managing stress and maintaining a positive attitude. Celebrate Small Wins: Don't solely focus on the fear of failure. Celebrate your small victories and successes. Learn from Failure: Embrace the idea that failure is not an endpoint but a valuable teacher.
Sometimes, resilience requires knowing when to pivot or even walk away from an idea. How do you recognize the difference between a challenge that requires persistence and a situation that necessitates a change in direction?
Recognising when to keep going and when to pivot or walk away from an idea is a critical skill in entrepreneurship. It's sensible to strike a balance between determination and adaptability. I typically differentiate between the two by: Data and Feedback: I rely heavily on data and feedback. If the data consistently shows that an idea or strategy is not delivering the expected results and client feedback is negative or stagnant, it's a clear sign that it may be time for a change. In contrast, if there's a positive trend and the feedback is generally encouraging, persistence may be the right choice. Alignment with Goals: I continually assess whether the idea aligns with my long-term goals and vision. If the idea has drifted away from my core objectives or no longer fits my direction, it's a signal that a change might be necessary. On the other hand, if it still contributes to the overarching vision, persistence could be warranted. Resource Evaluation: I consider the resources invested in the idea. If the resources required to sustain the idea are becoming disproportionately high compared to the expected returns, it's a warning sign. Reallocating resources or pivoting to a more resource-efficient approach may be a better choice. If the resources are manageable and the potential for growth is evident, persistence is reasonable. Market and Competition: An analysis of the market and competition is important. If market dynamics have changed significantly, or new competition is outpacing the idea, it's an indication that changes may be needed. However, if the market remains receptive and the competition isn't an imminent threat, persistence could be the right course. Stakeholder Input: I seek input from key stakeholders, such as clients, team members, or mentors. Their perspectives often provide valuable insights. If these stakeholders consistently express concerns or suggest alternative directions, it's a sign that a change may be beneficial. Red Flags and Warning Signs: I pay attention to red flags and warning signs that something isn't working. These could be missed deadlines, budget overruns, or persistent issues. Recognising these signs early allows for redirection. Time and Patience: It's important to decide between an idea that needs more time to mature and one that simply isn't working. Some concepts need patience to gain traction, while others are flawed. Thinking about the idea's progress and understanding its time is important. Cost-Benefit Analysis: I carry out a cost-benefit analysis to weigh up the pros and cons of continuing with the idea versus making a change. If the potential benefits are outweighed by the costs and risks, it's a sign to consider a pivot or redirection.
The global economic landscape is always changing, and recent years have seen some extraordinary disruptions. How have you adapted your business to overcome unexpected global challenges? What were the key factors in your successful navigation of these waters?
Adapting to unexpected global challenges is a crucial aspect of staying resilient in the ever-changing economic world. Over recent years, I've encountered several significant disruptions and adapted my business in response. The key factors in successfully navigating these have been: Agility and Flexibility: The ability to pivot quickly in response to changing circumstances has been instrumental. Diversification: To mitigate risks associated with economic disruptions, I've diversified my service offerings and client base. This makes sure that I'm not overly reliant on a single source of revenue or a particular market segment. Remote Work and Technology: Embracing remote work and leveraging technology has allowed my business to remain operational during global challenges, such as the pandemic. Cost Management: Effective cost management and financial planning have been key. Client Communication: Open and transparent communication with clients has been a priority. During times of disruption, I've maintained regular communication to address concerns, offer support, and adapt services to meet their changing needs. Market Research: Continual market research and staying in tune with to industry trends Networking and Partnerships: Building a robust network of industry peers and establishing strategic partnerships have provided access to valuable insights, resources, and collaborative opportunities during challenging times. Learning from Setbacks: Above all, learning from past setbacks and viewing them as opportunities for growth has been pivotal. Each disruption has provided lessons that have been integrated into our business practices. Resilient Mindset: Finally, maintaining a resilient mindset and a positive outlook, even in the face of adversity, has been essential. This mindset has not only helped overcome challenges but has also inspired me to remain motivated and forward-focused.
Resilience in the face of failure is often linked to personal growth as well. How have your business experiences shaped you personally? Can you share a moment where your professional resilience translated into a personal transformation?
My experiences have undeniably shaped me personally, and there's a specific moment that stands out where my professional resilience translated into a profound personal transformation.
One instance was during a challenging period in my life when a position I had been working in faced significant pain. It had consumed a considerable amount of my time, energy, and resources. As the setbacks piled up, it became evident that the situation was at risk of failing entirely, and I was at a point where I had to make some difficult decisions.
Professionally, this was a moment that tested my resilience and determination. I needed to pivot the situation, revaluate my feelings, and act on the obvious challenges.It was a challenging process, but it also taught me the importance of adaptability and a solution-oriented mindset in the business world.
However, the personal transformation was just as remarkable. As I navigated the complexities of this challenging period, I found that I had developed a newfound sense of emotional resilience. I learned to handle stress and adversity with greater composure and balance. I also discovered an enhanced capacity for empathy and patience, not only toward my clients but also in my personal relationships.
This transformation extended beyond my professional life. It influenced the way I approached personal challenges and setbacks. I became more open to learning from my mistakes and was better equipped to manage stress in various aspects of my life. The experience strengthened my mental resilience and instilled a sense of self-assuredness that I carry with me to this day.