“You can have business ideas every week, every day, it’s all about execution” -Nathan Jenkins
Surviving unprecedented times with key strategies
As of June, it was reported that more than 76,000 small and medium sized businesses were permanently closed due to the coronavirus lockdown in London. Forbes reported nearly 73,000 US businesses with permanent closures as well during this same time frame.
In our conversation together, Nathan Jenkins, co-founder of Modular Management in the U.K. discusses some of the business strategies that have proven to be successful in enduring the struggles through the uncertainty of the recent global pandemic. He also shares his insight on what reaching business highlights looks like after two years into starting his company.
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of not accurately projecting overhead costs and expenses, and overspend their budget. According to Gwen Moran’s article, Four Common Startup Money Mistakes, she bookends her list with underestimating startup costs as number one and spending too much as number four for mistakes entrepreneurs are making. Marla Tabaka also says that financial mismanagement is the reason for the collapse of 65 percent of entrepreneurs researched in a study by Xero which surveyed over 2,00 business owners.
If these are typical and crucial mistakes being made by entrepreneurs normally, then operating and creating business during unprecedented times will surely magnify an already existing problem. Let’s look at a few strategies Modular Management has implemented that have contributed to their survival, and even more importantly has allowed them to thrive.
The need to employ staff to deliver services for your business can be a necessity depending on the specific needs of your business and can balloon your budget easily. In 7 Expenses Most Entrepreneurs Fail to Prepare For, they discuss employee expenses and talk about the unexpected costs for reimbursements and supplies that can quickly impact any entrepreneur's budget. Depending on the structure of your business, there are many factors to consider that will determine how you decide to employ people within your business model. Hiring contractors and freelancers is one cost-efficient strategy, according to Alex Liu’s article where he provides a some options consider when it comes to how to pay employees.
Operating Modular Management, requires engineers and laborers to provide specialized services to job sites needed for their clients. While offering these services in a broad geographic area across their region, there are challenges presented in meeting the demands of clients and bringing staff into sometimes remote areas. Hiring professionals such as engineers can have a significantly different impact on your budget than hiring cashiers for a store-front.
Nathan explains that having an agile business model that employs engineers as subcontractors allowed their business to not suffer when work dried up for a period of time. Being strategic about how you contract employees and staff to work for your startup is critical. While Nathan firmly believes in employee appreciation, rewards and bonuses, having this framework in place minimizes obligation to cover salaries when income is not being generated due to a shortage of work. This allowed their business to stay afloat when mandatory lockdown brought business to a halt.
Modest business practices
Having modest business practices is a decision that paid off well, according to Nathan. Financially, having a good deal on their rented office space as well as taking modest salaries as company owners are just a small part of the decisions Modular Management made before the threat of a pandemic. Their focus is long-term for a bigger pay-off, and for Nathan, being very clear on the end-game has guided the decisions made to strategize how to grow their business and where to focus on building value. Modular Management’s modest leadership model is also centered around their staff and clients. Nathan’s dedication to personal growth is also testament to a leader that understands the growth of his company depends on the growth of the leaders steering the company.
“our company overall is very lean and agile right now, which I believe puts us in a good place” -Nathan Jenkins
Best use of time
During the 2020 global pandemic the world was brought silent to its knees at the risk of not knowing what and how. It became evident that millions of people, parents, students, corporate CEOs, entertainers and yes, even entrepreneurs and professionals suddenly had endless time on their hands.
What has been the best use of your time during lockdown? Let me know below ⬇
As entrepreneurs and people also experiencing life as a parent, spouse, sibling or whoever else we lose sight and track of time on what matters in moving us forward toward our goals. You are in business to make money and it is easy to focus on the product or service you provide and neglect what it takes to continually be building potential business. It is also easy to not have “enough” time for your own personal growth and development.
Nathan shares that they “took the decision that whilst it was really quite because of covid, we’d take advantage of the new found time we had and totally re-structured our website, created social media pages and sent out marketing emails.”
After months of outbound sales, revisiting the company’s marketing strategy, and a backlog of clients, Nathan reports August being the busiest sales month on record so far. Using that time between March and June to focus on the business, improve strategies, generate additional business and leads as well as personal growth are all solid contributors to why Modular Management is surviving 2020 and pushing forward to long-term goals to build value and a sellable business with systems and clients in place.
Uncertainty hitting milestones
By definition, a milestone is an event or significant change or stage of development. In business milestones are checkpoints along the way of following your business plan and knowing you are moving in the right direction. For entrepreneurs milestones can be tied to both the business and your personal advancement.
From asking entrepreneurs these questions, I am always fascinated by how different people perceive milestones in their own lives. When I asked Nathan to share what his milestones were, there was a pause and hesitation as he explained he doesn’t feel as though he’s hit any real milestones yet. He acknowledged hitting their busiest month of sales on record in August and Modular Management surviving mandatory lockdowns, and running a half marathon as accomplishments he feels really good about. Yet, his laser focus on the bigger goal for Modular Management and his team leaves him with the thought of not being satisfied enough to celebrate at this point.
“I guess because I’m reaching for quite an ambitious goal I don’t feel like anything along the way has been that significant" -Nathan Jenkins
Aiming for specific goal
The goals you select for your business should provide direction to move the company forward with a destination or end result in mind. Nathan explains that the goal for he and his partners is to build value in the business, a demand and need with clients that contributes to the value of the company so they can sell in 5 years and move on. His goal allows him to decide on the strategies that will get them there. Parts of his strategies include investing into quality engineers, having simple business practices not driven by ego, and personal investment through fitness as well as focusing on continually developing skills relevant to operating their business at optimal levels.
It is important to be clear about your goals, we’ve all been told that. While Nathan essentially acknowledges reaching what we could consider to be short term goals, such as sales for the month of August or surviving lockdown that shut thousands of businesses down permanently, he is hyper focused and strategically planning for his long term goal to build a business worth selling.
The most vulnerable and authentic part I felt Nathan shared in all this is his mindset and thoughts around being two and a half years into business and still feeling like he is at the beginning of a startup. Arnold Schwarzenegger said “I will always stay hungry, never satisfied with current accomplishments.” If by chance you are not familiar with Arnold (how is this possible), he is an idol in competitive bodybuilding, an immigrant in the United States from Austria, an actor, and the 38th Governor of California.
“I will always stay hungry, never satisfied with current accomplishments.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
I bring this up to drive home one point here. Highlights and milestones should never produce complacency in your travels through business or personal life. Nathan’s approach to say, yes we hit these marks, but I still struggle with not knowing and not having any guarantees as an entrepreneur is super real. Nathan knows that the daily struggle in short sight seemingly has no results in the moment, yet going to work on himself, sharpening his finance and marketing skills and knowledge, walking humbly and focused will take him to his entrepreneurial destination. That’s the raw truth and not so glamourous side of being an entrepreneur that I wish all of you nothing but the best to get through.
Nathan Jenkins in the co-founder of Modular Management Ltd in the U.K. He is big into mindset and self-development. His quiet demeanor translates into him being quite a deep thinker that is very strategic in his approach to business. He is both motivating and inspiring, and one of the kindest and most humble entrepreneurs around.
Modular Management Website<