How to Reinvent a Business Facing Near Death

10 January 2017 -


Companies lose their edge and falter for various reasons, but how do you make your sinking business a success?

Guest blogger Craig Malloy

The cold hard truth is that 90 per cent of startups fail...

Only 12 per cent of 1955’s Fortune 500 companies are on the list over 60 years later...

In today’s fast-paced technology market, business leaders are faced with “sink or swim” decisions all too often. After my experience as CEO (twice-over) of Lifesize, I’d like to share a few tips on how to swim when your business is slipping into the depths..

Pick clear, concrete objectives

Before you begin your business’ transformation, be clear about your goals.

Ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • What do you want your company to look like in 18 months? 
  •  What are you going to do to get there? 
  • And most importantly, what are you not going to do?

Moving forward with clarity is often one of the hardest parts of the process, and committing to it fully is even harder. Salvage what you can from your current business and capitalise on those things to help accelerate growth.

When we initiated our turnaround, we had to narrow our product strategy to succeed in the long run. At the time, new technologies were disrupting the collaboration market. But with this disruption also came opportunity. Video collaboration wasn’t just for early adopters anymore — it had gone mainstream. If we played our cards right, we could capitalise on the growing need for enterprise collaboration with a fresh delivery model — and we did. We now offer a cloud-based software solution combined with plug-and-play HD camera and phone systems to make video conferencing seamless for users and IT Managers.

Prepare for a tough journey — together

The highs and lows of business transformation are better navigated when everyone’s prepared for what lies ahead. Reinventing a company requires an intricate combination of resolution and sacrifice (and, believe me, you’ll see plenty of the latter).

As you ready your team for a new era, solidify values for them to rally behind. For instance, in redefining our company culture, we sought input from teams across all functional areas and identified four core values:

  1. Act with integrity and authenticity
  2. Lead with customer obsession 
  3. Drive relentless innovation 
  4. Make every day matter

The creation of core values helped everyone in the organisation understand what the company stood for and where the company was headed, and for those who weren’t interested, a chance to opt out.

Steady the course — fully and fearlessly

No business can be successful without being flexible and adapting to the tech climate. Harvard Business Publishing reported on top leadership traits that are critical for success — one being that leaders “cultivate learning agility.” Simply put, as business strategies and models evolve, the leader must change as well.

Fear lures you back to what’s familiar and safe; you need to get uncomfortable if you want to survive. For a business on the brink of extinction, that means managing serious complexity — perhaps it is adding new leadership, changing business processes or even exiting markets. For us, reinvention meant all of the above, as well as moving forward as an independent company.

If it isn’t clear already, I’ve found that reinventing a company is guaranteed to involve a tremendous test of faith and commitment. It was one of the most intense experiences of my professional career — exciting and challenging in equal measure.

My final point — don’t rush into it, and make sure you have thought through the roadmap to becoming successful. Take the time to understand your objectives, rally your team and continue to move forward without fear.

Craig Malloy is the CEO of Lifesize, a video and telecommunications company based in the United States.

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