The founder of a Dundee personal development firm has spoken of his determination to return to growth after a “tough” 2020.
Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, Insights had grown strongly across the world for several years.
Newly filed accounts showing a 6.4% increase in sales to £73.3 million for the year to March.
More than six million people worldwide have used the company’s flagship Insights Discovery personality evaluator tool, which uses a four-colour psychological model to help team members develop human skills.
Much of the firm’s work was conducted face-to-face with customers around the world, including Microsoft, Nike and Google.
With lockdowns and home working being implemented globally, this revenue stream fell to zero almost overnight.
The company cut 15% of its workforce this summer as a result of a downturn caused by the pandemic.
A total of 75 staff were made redundant, including 24 members of staff who worked across the company’s two buildings at Dundee Technology Park.
Several months later, Insights group chief executive Andy Lothian describes the process as “one of the toughest things we’ve ever had to do”.
But the forward-looking entrepreneur believes the strides the company has made towards expanding its digital offering will put it in a strong position for years to come.
“The first couple of months after lockdown were exceptionally hard,” he recalled.
“We had some very difficult decisions to make about right-sizing the business for the next normal.
“The mindset of our people has been brilliant, even those who went through the process of leaving our organisation. The process was done with care and love and support.
“Now we’ve reinvented how we take our proposition to our clients – it’s more digital, more virtual.
“We are going to come into 2021 leaner, fitter and stronger.”
Move to digital
Mr Lothian, who founded the company with his father Andi in 1993, estimates digital work which would have normally taken six months to implement was completed in six days as the crisis hit.
Insights now has five online learning products, including Insights Explore, a web app that offers an introduction to the firm’s colour profiles and bite-size learning content.
The swift decision-making paid dividends, with Mr Lothian reporting stronger sales since September.
Staying on purpose
He said a key focus, learned when the firm navigated the financial crisis, was to stay “on purpose”.
It has continued with its five-year strategic programme, which included a £5.4m spend in the last financial year.
“Thank goodness we had made those investments because it meant we were able to pivot quickly,” he said.
“At the start of the pandemic I asked myself a lot of questions – what was the worst possible outcome, how do I support the leaders in the business and how to be there for my people.
“It was also a case of looking past the immediate challenge and asking ourselves what we want the future to look like.
“I am a believer that moving towards things you want is more powerful than running or hiding from the things you don’t want.
“We want to drive towards more growth in the years to come. Insights is here to stay.”
Insights chief executive Fiona Logan said learning and development remained a growth sector.
She said this month the firm would deliver digital accreditation of its personality evaluator to more than double the people reached in-person last December.
The business has also started to restart face-to-face delivery, with safety and distancing measures depending on local rules.
She said: “Like many businesses, Insights has faced considerable challenges as a result of the global pandemic.
“Our performance and investment last year enabled us to respond to these challenges quickly, and to roll out new digital products at pace.
“My belief is that the world needs Insights more than ever.
“In this increasingly disconnected, chaotic and disrupted world, our commitment to our purpose – underpinned by our core focus on humanity and community – is more relevant than ever before.”