Post-Traumatic Growth in Outsourcing: From Crisis To Thriving in 2020

Post-Traumatic Growth in Outsourcing 

Or Closing the Loop on Business Resiliency and Transformation in Response to COVID-19

On September 17th, Forbes ran a profile on Boldr and our approach to purpose-driven outsourcing.

Humbled and overwhelmed. It was a proud moment for the company because of what we’ve been through the past 18 months (as people, as a company), but perhaps more importantly, it was a proud moment because of how we chose to go through it. 

(Note: It was also nice to be featured in the magazine a second time for our values and our approach, the first being when Forbes selected our Founder, David Sudolsky, as a member of its 30 under 30 class, for Social Entrepreneurship.)

Bruce Tulgan’s profile of Boldr was an incredible validation; and a reminder to take a step back. To find a way to be Happy about our efforts, Proud about our progress, and acknowledge that we’re Not Yet Satisfied about where we stand because there is so much more we can and want to do. (At Boldr, we’re getting better and better at celebrating Happy, Proud, and Not Yet Satisfied).

 

Leaning Into Our Values As A Purpose-Driven Company At A Time Of Crisis

As the pandemic took hold and exploded beyond Asia (at Boldr, we faced it and acknowledged it and started dealing with masks, and temperature checks as early as December 2019), we responded clearly and definitively with very clear guiding principles. 

First, we made a clear decision to focus on Team Member Health and Safety. 

Second, we made a clear decision to prioritize Client Health and Success. 

Lastly, we were deliberate about what we chose to ignore: we agreed that revenue would not enter our decision-making framework as we responded to the pandemic. Boldr was founded on the principle that doing the right thing would ultimately lead to the right outcomes. 

Leaning harder into our values was the clear choice, but that doesn’t mean it was easy.

The work never felt hard, though. It felt important. It felt inspiring. It felt essential. And as we focused on our guiding principles, we felt progress through that clarity, quickly.

We chronicled our journey and were honored to be invited to tell our story in a variety of places, ranging from my alma mater at Duke University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation through a keynote with Vazil Azarov and the thousands of attendees at the Growth Marketing Conference

Boldr shared our truth. Our priorities (Team Members and Clients). Our challenges (35% revenue loss immediately). Our Team Member’s goodwill, grace, and integrity (leaning in to support one another). 

We had turned trauma into growth. Post-traumatic growth.

 

Our Purpose-Driven Approach to Outsourcing Led to Strong Performance in 2020

As we emerged from the first 60 days post the true global arrival of COVID-19 and worked our way through the end of 2020, we went beyond sustaining our people, our clients and our business. We went beyond post-traumatic growth and resilience.

We accelerated, 

Experiencing a level of growth we couldn’t have foreseen and as we turned and looked back on 2020 in its entirety, here’s what we saw in our rearview mirror:

Boldr | Post-Traumatic Growth in Outsourcing 2020

  • 60% Team Member Growth
  • 65% Revenue Growth (including recovering from the 35% loss immediately post pandemic)
  • 2 New Offices (a second in the Philippines, a new office in Mexico)

Out of trauma, we saw first the indication and then the full on blossoming of an evolved Boldr. One with greater focus and attention on our people. With greater focus and attention on serving clients in pursuit of their best possible outcomes. With guiding prospects to the best partner and solution for them. You might call it post traumatic growth syndrome, Boldr style.

We focused on helping our Team Members, our Clients, and our Prospects find the best right next answer to their questions — whether Boldr was that answer or not. 

 

Our Purpose-Driven Approach To Outsourcing As Led To A Transformational 2021

Trauma. Distress. Can be disruptive. Or it can be clarifying. (In the most positive of cases, it ends up being both, in that respective order.) We entered 2021 feeling organized, galvanized, connected. And we set out to build a plan for 2021 that balanced how we equipped our Team Members, how we served our Clients, and how we engaged our Communities. 

Setting a revenue goal was inevitable, but it was a byproduct of what we truly wanted to focus on. 

For example, we focused less on how much revenue we generated, and instead, focused more on how many people we could employ in successful careers. By putting this focus on Team Members in careers, we elevated how we trained, promoted and elevated Team Members; we also activated a muscle on reprofiling Team Members who may not have been a good fit in the role for which they were hired into new roles that may be a better fit for them. 

We made PTO a management responsibility. At the end of last year, our people were tired. Now, we report on PTOs taken by Team Members on a monthly basis. This is a common reporting KPI for many people-based companies. But as I communicated with the team when we started making this number more and more central to our daily activities: it’s not what we choose to report on that defines or differentiates us, it’s what we choose to do with those numbers that defines and differentiates us.

We report on PTO because we’ve made it a manager’s responsibility to create space and make sure their Team Members are truly taking time off. We report on PTO so we can see if someone has gone too long without taking one, so we can create space for them to do so proactively.

 

These Amazing Numbers Don’t Lie …

When we entered 2021, the team gathered and agreed that we were incredibly excited about what we made happen in 2020. So happy, and so enamored with our mission and focus, that we set lofty expectations to double our team, our revenue, and our footprint without compromising our margin. As we close Q3 2021, I’m proud to announce that we’ve achieved the loftiest of our expectations … and then some:

  • Team Member growth is up 100% (2x) with 150% in our sights by year-end
  • Revenue is up 160% (2.6x) with 200% (3x growth) in our sights by year-end
  • Our geographic footprint has expanded to include client-facing Team Members in the Philippines (Manila, Tacloban), Mexico (Merida), South Africa (Cape Town), and Canada (Remote).
  • We’ve achieved all of this growth, scale, and expansion while remaining bootstrapped and while improving our margins over 2020.

Boldr | Post-Traumatic Growth in Outsourcing Countries

… But These Amazing Numbers Only Tell Part of the Story

Even with this growth, Q4 is set to be the best quarter in Boldr’s history. 

Even with Q4 locked in as the best quarter in Boldr’s history, we still realize we’re just scratching the surface of our potential.

  • Our growth is driven 100% by existing client expansion, referrals, and a modest organic inbound pipeline. We are so focused on supporting existing clients and on paying attention to inbound requests, that we have yet to stand up an externally facing marketing and sales organization. We started planting the seeds for these teams in Q3 and are excited to see what momentum they can generate as they start to gain traction entering 2022.
  • We’re still hugely people-powered. We’re just now creating the space to implement standard SaaS solutions to accelerate core metrics ranging from time-to-hire (talent acquisition), to performance management (attendance and utilization), to client self-service (our new dashboards are stunning, and built in partnership with the team at Redwoods.AI).
  • We’re still heavily reactive and operationally focused. As our client-facing teams get into focused delivery mode for Q4, we’ve got the space to bring on more senior level talent to think strategically while providing the necessary partnership, coaching, support, and sometimes space, for our front-line Team Members.

 

It’s been an incredible year. Yet in some ways, it’s incredible how much we’ve been able to achieve without making even some of the basic investments high-growth, high-performing organizations make. 

We see this as one of our greatest sources of optimism. Because the next set of opportunities ahead of us are still, in so many ways, low-hanging fruit. No-brainer choices and investments. With clear, almost inevitable ROI. Outsourcing growth, served in a silver platter.

 

Reminding Ourselves How We Got Here, By Being Happy, Proud, And Not Yet Satisfied

We hit a critical point in our life cycle at the start of the pandemic, as did many organizations. When the world got complex, we got simple, and we prioritized our Team Members and our Clients with swiftness. 

To our knowledge, and based on the feedback we received from the market, we were the only company based in the Philippines to completely flip its team from in-person to remote (we did it in 48 hours) without missing even an hour of client-facing service. 

Some of this is because of the swiftness of the decisions we made and our operational execution. But a super majority of it is because we believe in our teams, we believe our people are the atomic unit of our business, and I believe our people had full faith in our faith and belief that they were our priority. 

When people feel scared, things escalate. When people feel safe, things elevate.

Our elevation to becoming one of the fastest growing purpose-driven outsourcing companies in the world was not done on the backs of our people but because we back our people.

When people ask us about our plans for growth in 2022 and beyond, we tell them we’re expecting more of the same.

When people ask us “how”.

I say, with pride, “More of the same.”

 

We Have More To Do, And More To Share

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more about our plans for the future. Consider this a first installment, laying a foundation that outlines our performance as a company, built atop our values. Yet this is one story, among many we have yet to tell. 

 

There’s a people story.

There’s an impact story.

There’s an expansion story. 

 

All are stories about what we’ve done and how we’re positioning ourselves to take the next step.

When you look at the checklist of things we have yet to build or implement in pursuit of bringing our model to support more companies and organizations around the world, something should become abundantly clear: we need more help. More firepower. 

Stay tuned as we share how we’re going about creating more opportunities to onboard new Team Members that help us better serve our clients and make a bigger impact in the communities where we live and work.