Business Growth under COVID (and future uncertainties)
Remaining adaptable and flexible is one of our key principles at Mimo Monitors. Being nimble and forward-thinking is what allows us to consistently ensure we meet and exceed customer’s needs. In the past year we, like so many other businesses, have been challenged in unprecedented and unexpected ways. As a result of the pandemic, businesses shut down, and more people than ever began working from home causing many of our company’s most prominent verticals like conference rooms, interactive exhibits, transportation and more to virtually disappear overnight. We simply had to pivot and figure out another way to keep Mimo thriving, despite the pandemic and our key verticals not operating for some unknown quantity of time.
Now, more than a year later as the world begins to return to normal, we can reflect on how we navigated these challenges. Throughout the past year, Mimo expanded offerings and entered new, previously untapped verticals such as outdoor digital signage, light industrial, and higher education. Through these efforts, we were able to triple our revenue in new or previously untapped verticals. We also decided early on that we wanted to do whatever we could to keep all of the Mimo Monitors team intact. We place a huge emphasis on hiring the right people and believe we’re only as good as our team. We’re proud to say that we were able to do this. As things begin to revert back to normal, we’re pleased to see all our efforts paying off. Not only are we seeing the verticals most impacted by the pandemic returning but we’re also well positioned to continue our growth in these new or expanded verticals.
As we come out the other side, we wanted to provide our top tips to help other small businesses stay adaptable during challenging times:
Plan for the future: We believed that conference rooms, one of our key verticals, would make a strong comeback after the pandemic. That is why we not only continued to invest but actually invested more into R&D for new products in this arena. The result is that we’re better suited to meet customer’s needs than ever. One pandemic related change is that we began investing into software products that will help balance hardware sales peaks and valleys. If you believe in what you’re doing and are able to do so, investing more heavily in the slow times with a strong future vision can be highly beneficial when things return to normal.
Listen to customer’s needs: Customers are your best tool for figuring out how to adapt because they’ll often tell you what they need. When you hear your customers all consistently have similar problems that need to be solved that can be a great indicator of where to lead your business next. Sure, the pandemic created challenges but it also created new business opportunities. We were not looking to pivot entirely into areas unfamiliar to us, but we channeled our expertise into making temperature-taking kiosks. We were able to use our proficiency in engineering to create a product very rapidly by leveraging a lot of existing products so that customer’s could quickly and easily screen for a fever before entering a space, a new pandemic created need.
Get Buy-In From Your Team: We feel passionately about the folks who work at Mimo and know that this pandemic was a stressful time for everyone. Before making adjustments to our focus, we believed that it was crucial to keep our team up-to-date and also ensure that everyone was on the same page regarding the changes Mimo was needing to make. Change can be a challenge and can be upsetting. Before we made some of the changes we felt were necessary, we worked hard to be very communicative and share openly with the team while getting their feedback. Getting the team’s understanding and buy-in makes evolving easier for everyone. It is also often the case that in being open and communicative, new solutions to current problems will emerge.
Take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses to guide you: While making adjustments it’s important not to veer away from your strengths. No matter your business, you have some great strengths corporately that are not specifically tied to whatever product or service you offer. We constantly ask ourselves “What is our unfair advantage”? For us, some of these advantages are our particular emphasis on our customer service as well as our focus on engineering capabilities. Through this pandemic, we listened to our customer’s needs which drove the direction of focusing on outdoor displays and temperature kiosks, all while developing a long-term conference room product line. When pivoting, do not switch into an area of corporate weakness even if you believe that the market for that product or service is strong. If you do not bring along your “unfair advantage” you will not be successful. It is essential to hold on to your strengths while making the transition to a new idea, offering, or product.
The one thing we can always be certain of is uncertainty. We hope these tips will be helpful guides for future challenges, changes, or whatever lies ahead.