Going from Big to Small to Scale – The hardest decision I’ve ever had to make

Recently we decided to make a bold move with my company Inkpact.com. After nearly 4 years of building our tech platform, we had finally come to the last sprint before we were totally self-serve. This meant it was time for some hard decisions. We were growing a big team to manage sales, we had a beautiful office and did some agency style consulting work to make some money. We were all things to all people, a creative agency, a consultant, a platform, a service and much more. Now was crunch time, do we become a big agency (not the original plan) or do we become a self-serve digital product, because, standing in that moment, we weren’t 100% anything and sitting on the fence bloody hurts. A lot of money was going out of the door each month and wasn’t coming in, so we had to decide which way we wanted to go.

The foundations of Inkpact…

Andrew my Co-founder and I sat down, dug deep into why we started the company:

To improve the lives of thousands of writers and give brands a tool to connect with customers.

So, the answer was simple, we wanted to build a self-serve platform, but we’d been chasing revenue and not sticking to that mission 100%.

After sitting down with a handful of trusted investors we made a hard decision. Make Inkpact 100% self-serve and restructure the team to show this. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. We had to let go of some of my favourite people who are now friends and we had to say no to some clients that we loved working with but didn’t fit our model anymore. I made sure that all the team we were letting go of had help and support finding a new role if they needed any; I tried to be there as a shoulder, friend and boss but it was hard, lots of tears shed (mainly by me), many sleepless nights but when I got out of my own head and trusted, as hard as it was, I knew what’s to come for them and for us is going to be great.

The Inkpact Office

So, we moved from the big beautiful office, let go of our sales team, removed a load of overheads and adopted a lean, remote online platform self-serve model! We on-boarded a warehouse in the Midlands to drop ship all our goods and printing. Now we can make money whilst we sleep – thanks to wicked operations, a great warehouse team and our 380+ Scribes all across the country.

So, how will our self-serve model work?

How it works in practice is: a client places an order on inkpact.com for either notes or gifts, and API is sent to our warehouse that prints the stationery and sends to our writers who accept the job on the platform. Our writers handwrite each note, take a photo that goes through QA using our OCR technology, then they put a stamp on and post, or if a gift needs to be added they post it back to our warehouse to be packed with the gift then shipped.

This model has taken 4 years, a lot of hard work and love to build, and we are finally there…

We officially start this model as of 1st September 2019, but August was a bit of a test for us with a slim down team, no office and pushing clients to self-serve – it hasn’t been easy, but we are nearly there. The switch has made us super focused on what we are, what we are not, who we work with and who we have to say no to.

Is it easy?

Not at all, saying no to clients is the hardest thing, but we noticed every time we bent over backwards, changed who we are at our core, things went wrong anyway!

We haven’t got it figured out yet, and as a team we’re learning how to work remotely, communicate with each other and work with our warehouse in the Midlands. There’s been miscommunication, some errors and some stresses but for the first month in 4 years this month we hit true profitability and trust me that makes for a much nicer night’s sleep.

So, what are we going to do now?

This business opportunity gave me and the team an opportunity to get creative with our lives, not just the business. The team can now work from anywhere…literally as long as there is Wifi we can run. Our team now get to choose where they work, how they work, as long as targets are being hit and clients are being served, so that maybe a Coffee shop in Dagenham or a beach is the Dominican.

Life for me?

Well I took this opportunity to live a dream, spread a mission and see the world. I’m moving into a little campervan called Inky, you can read more about the birth of inky here. Right now, I’m writing this from a coffee shop with Inky parked outside. This is our very first week of Nomad life and living in her is an adventure and a half. I’m vlogging and Instagramming about the journey so follow away.

Entrepreneur Charlotte Pearce sat outside of Inky the CamperVan!

Life for the team?

Every quarter we do a team retreat, always have always will, it’s where we bond as a team, do strategy check in and have fun, so the start of Q4 is no exception and next week we head to Bali!

Bali is not only one of my favourite places in the world, the energy, scenery and people there are incredible but it’s also the number one place in the world to be a digital nomad. So, for September myself, Andrew & the Inkpact team are going to be together in Bali proving the model works (what better way to test the company operationally doesn’t need us in the UK) and working out our new model of working and communicating.  Trust me this isn’t going to be a holiday, we’ll probably work more than ever because we are all together, but why not do it in a beautiful place and finish the day off with a Bintang and a surf listening to Acoustic Bob Marley.

Bali sunset with a beach and pool in view

So, for now, the adventure is just beginning, we hit profitability and despite the few logistical and communication bumps it seems we made a good call – let’s see if we can keep it up.

What about Inky?

It’s been a few days since we launched Inky’s journey at Carfest, I’ve had a wonderful week with her, and I’m be sad to say bye whilst we head off to Bali (it’s going to be epic though). When I’m back we’ll be taking her and heading to Scotland, Ireland Norway and Morrocco inspiring love, connection & creativity along the way.

Charlotte Pearce stood underneath a Goodbye sign

It’s all been a HUGE learning curve, and it’s going to continue – for years people have been asking me after talks if I have a blog etc and I haven’t had to be honest. It’s been a fear of mine for a while now, but with this big bold move I feel I simply have to now, so on here I’ll be recording my thoughts, feelings, tips & journey.

I’d love for you to join me, let me know what you are up to on the pursuit of a meaningful adventurous life – the ups and the downs.

Finally, I couldn’t have done this alone – a huge thank you to a few people that made this all possible: my co-founder Andrew, my awesome Inkpact team (past and present) & our supportive investors. A massive shout out to Camperking.co.uk & Miriad products for making my campervan dreams a reality and last but not least my equally crazy love Luke for joining me on this epic and slightly bonkers adventure!

So, here’s to conquering our fears, not settling because something is & creating a life and business we love!

Love always,

A nervous and amateur blogger – Charlotte x

Location: Croxley Hertfordshire

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Charlotte Pearce