‘Fighting Fit’ – An Entrepreneur’s Perspective

By David Holman, CEO of ScaleUp Group Client Armour Comms

The immediate challenge of the pandemic

No doubt, like every other business we were not as prepared as we would have liked for the Covid ‘curved ball’.

However fortunately we had raised some external capital at the back end of 2019, in part for investing in growth, but some was a buffer for what turned out to be very uncertain times.

2019 had been a good year for Armour, 73% up in revenue and almost 40%+ on our ARR, so we were looking forward to another great year in 2020.

Business challenges/opportunities


We had had strong export markets, due to our then focus on Government and Defence sectors as their solutions are similar in many respects from a High Security communications perspective, where our technology sits. In 2019 83% of our revenues were exports and increasing.

But Covid changed overnight our access to those markets as ‘Working From Home’ was a disruption both internally and for our clients and prospects. Even locating them outside their office numbers was problematic and email is not the ideal media when selling technology to foreign governments where establishing trust face to face is an essential element, part of which included visits to export markets and the exhibitions – now no longer possible.

Clients v. Prospects

On the other hand, our technology which made home working acceptably secure meant we saw very welcome increases in business from Existing Clients. But this was offset by the level of uncertainty caused by Covid causing our Prospects to delay their decisions to go ahead with us. More pleasingly opportunities nearer home did start to emerge but that initial uncertainty meant forecasting was impossible undermining our ambitious plans of a few months before.

New Staff

As part of this, we had invested in hiring people in the couple of months before the pandemic, but we reduced their period of learning from their peers face to face moving it online instead.


We ‘white-label’ our technology for some of our larger partners and they were selling more. But one of the smaller ones decided to call it a day, because access to their chosen market just wasn’t possible, a real reminder of what happens if you are unable to change/pivot your business quickly enough.

We also learnt the importance of more mature distribution channels, via larger organisations.

Enhancing our GTM tactics

Not having an option for face to face in-person meetings, we had to invest more in online promotion and quickly. We realised that we didn’t really know the source of our leads (outside of exhibitions and market visits), was it Google or social media? Now we do know and how best to influence them positively and we have some good benchmark data by religiously monitoring this daily to ensure we are getting the best value from our marketing investments.

Work From Home (WFH)

As an SME, it doesn’t matter how good your technology is, being in the right place at the right time does make all of a difference. Consumer based technology, used at the start of the pandemic for business communication,  is now being replaced as organisations realise that these are not acceptable tools for certain professionals – healthcare being a case in point -and this pandemic which some viewed as a ‘speed bump’ is now actually a seismic shift digitally towards longer term Working from Home.

The effect on our processes

Our initial WFH activities has seemed to have gone quite well, as we had used our own technology previously for some limited home working – but nothing like the scale we were forced to do post March 2020.

Like most companies, changing the processes, meant some delays and occasional loss of productivity but there were benefits, no wasted time traveling to our office in London, which meant even those who lived ‘close’ still had an hour or so commute each way, others more. In the main we remained productive. Some challenging technical issues meant we missed those sessions around a whiteboard in the office, although we do now on a selected basis, returning to the office for these sessions and valuing them not just as a brainstorming session but a way of reconnecting with each other.


The challenges of the Covid period have resulted in our leadership team being much more focused on setting and achieving objectives, quarter on quarter. Good practice in any event but we brought this objective based activity forward across the whole company. It has started to bear fruit and allowed the whole company to be united in understanding what is important over the next 3 months.


  • Product releases are ‘getting out the door’ on time
  • export opportunities are returning and
  •  our forecasts are significantly improving.
  • we have even completed challenging tasks like remote ISO accreditations.

Despite Covid and the challenges in 2020 we have

  • increased our ARR by 25%,
  • importantly as a company, we understand our strengths and weaknesses better and instinctively look for constant improvement.

Our attitude to risk has softened a little but we do question investments we make with more rigour. I could argue that means we are maturing as a business. We have evolved now to a manageable state, I think we are unlikely to go back to where we were before and that home working along with all the associated process changes is here to stay.  By working one step at a time, we can and will reach our goals, together.

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