In this post, we welcome Pete Heslop from Steadfast Collective who talks about the impact of the first UK lockdown and the plans he and his co-founder put in place to navigate the uncharted waters they found themselves in. They took the opportunity to regroup, look inwards and redefine what they wanted their agency to be. It’s a powerful piece on how an agency evolves, clarifies its direction, all the while taking its employees on the journey with them.

For many of us, 2020 was a brutal year. Clients going bankrupt, retainers paused, staff burnout and a constant fight to keep our head above water.
The day it was announced that the country was going into our first lockdown, I had two clients call me and instantly pull their projects. I poured a large glass of wine and set to work on a spreadsheet called ‘Project Restart’. This document outlined every single tiny expense, our current cash reserves, outstanding invoices, and, most importantly, our runway.
This was my emergency ‘the world is ending’ document. Thankfully, we came through 2020 mostly unscathed as a business, falling just shy of our targets.
Looking forward
Rachel (co-founder) and I, took a long hard look at where we were and what we wanted Steadfast Collective to be.
We decided we needed to make some big changes and to shift our thinking. You see, we never started Steadfast Collective with the intention of being ‘another agency’ or ‘getting rich’. We wanted a place where we can stamp our mark on the world, and hopefully leave the internet in a better place than we found it. We both believe that Steadfast Collective exists to serve more than just its shareholders and its clients, it should have a social and economic impact throughout our touchpoints.
Through the end of 2020 and early 2021 we set aside every Tuesday to look at;
– What is Steadfast Collective now?
– What do we want Steadfast Collective to grow into?
– What is working?
– What isn’t working?
– What do our customers like?
– Which customers can we help thrive?
After many discussions internally and externally, we discovered that community-focused projects were the ones where we had the most to bring to the table for our clients. This focus on community aligned perfectly with what we wanted Steadfast Collective to become.
What did we change?
We made small changes to our website, proposal documents and the way we told our story. We spoke to over 40 other business owners and asked their opinion on our new direction.
As the weeks passed, we were becoming more sure in our new trajectory, so we wrote down our new manifesto.
We are Steadfast Collective.
We exist to craft community-focused digital applications.
We are a small team of smart creatives, innovative and adaptable, we are excited by technology and the future we can create online.
Our web applications resource communities, grow businesses and create value (both economic and social).
We know what it takes to ship, market and scale products and apply this wealth of background knowledge and experience to everything we do.
Our focus is shifting to specialising in community-driven digital products.
Once we had this in place, we set goals for 2021, 2023 and 2025 around the following areas; stability, revenue, ventures, brand, community, team, education, client success and technology. We’ve set epic big picture goals for 2023 and 2025, while 2021 has smart targets with clear stepping stones.
These goals have given us instant clarity and focus over our activities.

What impact have we seen?

As founders, we feel re-invigorated. Our staff are excited by the positive change and the clarity surrounding what we stand for as a business. For the first time in our history, it’s clear who we are and what we do. *We exist to craft community-focused digital applications.*

As a business, we’ve had an excellent start to the year. A few of the highlights;
– Highest quarter turnover and profit
– Longest ever cash runway
– Biggest ever single project signed off
– We have hit our 2021 charitable targets
– Introduced staff trajectory plans
– Restarted Friday Collective, moving our team to a 4-day client week.

In closing

After the burnout and exhaustion from the last 12 months, bringing focus has felt like a fresh wind in our sails. We’ve set our trajectory and now we’re ready to ride the open seas.


Pete Heslop

About Steadfast Collective
Headed up by husband and wife team Pete and Rachel Heslop, Steadfast Collective exists to craft digital applications that bring people together. They are a small team of smart creatives – innovative and adaptable – they are excited by technology and the future they can create online. ‘We know what it takes to ship, market and scale products and apply this wealth of background knowledge and experience to everything we do.’

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