As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times,” I had the pleasure of interviewing ADI PATIL.
Adi is the CO-CEO of Start It Up NYC and Rriter.com. The companies provide a series of services including Content Writing, SEO, Startup Dev, Video, App Dev, Social Media, PR, and Press Release Services.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up schooling in the United States, India, and Russia. After finishing my college education in Washington D.C., I moved to New York City. Growing up with a lot of exposure to diverse cultures, NYC seemed like the perfect melting pot once I got there. After a couple of corporate gigs, I finally found my calling when my Co-Founder Nico Hodel and I launched Start It Up NYC in 2017. Today, we also run a subsidiary company called Rriter.com and both the businesses are scaling extremely well.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I cannot point out one funny mistake but I think overall, in my business journey, I made a lot of mistakes in the initial stages of the process. We are a process-oriented and diligent bunch that did not know how to handle being materialistic, which is a necessity if you want to do long-term business. Over time, I learned how to balance the right and left sides of my brain, which has helped me create profitable businesses.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There are a lot of people that have helped us with some great advice and valuable referrals for our businesses. If I had to credit one person though, it would have to be my business partner Nico. We share a great rapport that keeps us going, and our thought process is very aligned which makes life easy. As any business does, we have had some tough times in our journey but he has been extremely professional and his problem-solving skills have helped us be where we are today.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
As a company, we always go far and beyond to help our clients. Development, Marketing, and Content agencies can only do well if clients and potential clients are doing well. We try to incorporate the scaling process of our clients along with logistically cutting overheads for them. Our proposals are built keeping all of these things in mind.
For example, Start It Up NYC’s focus is helping startups in the initial stages by building apps and websites, and/or marketing strategy with a data-driven approach to meet specific product-market fits. Which helps startups increase acquire customers, increase sales, and meet specific goals to fund their businesses further, and so on.
In the case of Rriter.com, the company provides a content writing service that helps, individuals, businesses, publications, and other agencies. Having a B2C AND B2B side to the business, Rriter is built so that our clients can scale down on their in-house content teams by letting us handle the content delivery. At the same time, we encourage our clients to make internal promotions within their content department while scaling the amount of content they can deliver, by simply using us.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
2020 was a difficult year for us to tackle as a unit, as it was for most other businesses. In the summer of 2020, we were looking to expand our business but the amounts of funds being raised by our target-clientele (startups) dried up pretty quickly. We had to quickly adapt and shift our focus on a project that was waiting to be executed — Rriter.com
Launching Rriter.com helped us segregate our content operation and give life to a new company that had a singular approach through one offering — CONTENT. The pandemic created a demand for online content like never before. Luckily for us, we had existing clients in the space that we moved over to Rriter and our sales teams worked hard on branding and advertising Rriter to make it the success story it is today.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
I actually have never considered giving up. Without diving deep into it because there is no long explanation as to why I’d like to say that I am really enjoying the quality of life my work gives me and I am extremely passionate about what we do.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
As a leader, you are literally the one person responsible for the livelihood of all of the people working for you or with you. Playing that part keeping the responsibility in mind every single day is the most challenging thing about being a leader.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
In tough times like these, we have pretty consistent workloads and we have not delayed any payments to our employees. So, their morales are pretty high up there. When we do have a lull period, or a week or two with lower amounts of work, we strike a balance by planning fun activities but also have them work on internal projects.
It is important to keep your teams busy during the working days of the week. An empty mind doesn’t help in any challenging times.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
In simple words, you have to do it without creating panic. At the same time, it is also important to encourage the team with possible solutions to any issue so that they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
I usually stick to immediate goals by only planning a quarter at a time, which is the standard approach. There is an overall plan that keeps changing or enhancing as time goes by, but I usually keep long-term plans away from my team in tough times like these so that they can focus on our immediate goals.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
Keep Trying! Business is for people that are ready for the good and the bad and have a lot of patience to build something that lasts long-term. As far as you work hard and have an attitude that does not understand quitting, you should be fine.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
The most common mistakes I have seen businesses make during difficult times are:
- Taking up too many loans
- Not working enough on a business model
- Scaling up faster than the demand and increasing liabilities
- Getting stuck on an idea without enough focus on execution
It is important to be mindful as an entrepreneur and keep updating your processes. As a business owner, you are constantly studying, adapting, and executing for the smooth functioning of your operations. Once discipline of this kind is observed, you can sustain through any difficult times.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
I keep my overheads low and business loan free which allows me to work on biz dev even during the low revenue phases without any stress.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Adjust, enhance and strictly follow your business model. This can be done by accepting the situation, looking at your business from the perspective of a third party, and making decisions that are impactful.
- Keep your team close and create internal projects that make a difference. It is important to keep your teams busy during turbulent times. Make sure they have enough work on the table that is exciting and stimulates growth.
- Clear up your finances. Make sure your company is debt-free, or as debt-free as possible. Kill as many financial liabilities as you can and file your taxes using an expert which can help you a lot and give you more legroom. Be aware of any government initiatives that you can take help from.
- Build Relationships. Use the tough times to build more connections and talk to a lot of people. Devise a plan for a referral partner program or any such initiative that will bring in more business.
- Pivot. Do not put all your eggs in one basket during tough times. There has to be a side of your business that is doing better than other departments. Think about segregating that side and selling what you sell best in a bigger way.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Humans are built to withstand any situation, and that is life.” This quote is simple but impactful. Whether your loss is personal or professional, you must believe you can deal with it, because you are designed to.
How can our readers further follow your work?