We'd/I'd planned what we believed was the future of incubator spaces for two years. Looked at every valuable space in the city, found every talented staff member required, drawn up agreements, warmed up investors, drawn up the staffing time allocations and developed the program structure and frameworks to get people from 0-$3m Rev/cap raise consistently.
But when our landlord over-reached on their building purchase and brought in an external finance partner, things began to get tricky. Suddenly our $/sqm agreement moved from 550 to 750/8. Our breakeven moved from 60% to 87%, we were in the blender.
We had been adding staff and costs getting ready to ramp up over time and our cash was running out. Within a week or two we would be under.
We didn't get to where we were off our own cashflow by playing turtle, but going all in this time had really fucked us. I guess I put too much faith in honour.
...First move, get rid of under performing staff same-day. Second move, cut all other purchases including printing paper etc - make up reasons to clients for this.
Third move, I took two days 'off' (basically lime-ing around and calling people I respect the opinions of) and talking to them about the options moving forward, I reviewed our P+L, customer base, pipeline etc.
It was clear, >70% of our cost base was space-based and >70% of our money came from delivering growth programs-and-alike.
Space was a pest, we spent all of our time fixing air-conditioning problems instead of real business problems and the space attracted plenty of inquiries that weren't who we wanted or were actually equipped to truly deliver value to.
For quite some time I'd been developing the best practices to begin transferring the advisory I had been doing for the last 2000* startup's we'd supported to other staff in the team (instead of just passing on simple tasks).
So, we had our first-ever war-room meeting.
"Hi team, basically, I fucked us. The 2.0 deal fell through - we need to pivot and pivot hard to survive, because I know I don't and you don't want to just operate as a serviced office moving forward.
So here's the plan ?!;
1. Minimise staffing at sites, just provide min service and run tours when booked in blocked time-slots. We'll have to all work together at one site to get through.
2. Each of us are now going to operate as a 'Growth Manager' and manage a set amount of people in a revenue bracket - we'll write and email 'inviting members to meet their new growth manager' today
3. We'll follow the same proposal/ sale method I've been using personally (...)
4. Every Monday we'll review inquiries and diagnostics as a team and agree on what we can execute and send out proposals
5. We need to sell 20 in the next 1-2 weeks to survive"
'But Jock - Advisors won't give us free time forever, training us or getting staff with those skills will be really expensive/take forever, we've never marketed or actively sold this offering before.'
"Yep, that's what we are going to sit in this war-room for, we're going to have to figure out what's happening with the spaces later on".
Over the next 2-days the team worked tirelessly - revamped our entire offering, website, model, budgets, Hubspot templates and workflows, built a sophisticated model to repay advisors and more.
Officially we were now in the accountable-growth-program-business. In the following 4 day's we'd sold 17.
If you are in a small business - you probably need a war-room.
Or more importantly, get your model right before you get too deep.