Difficult times bring out the true talent of company leaders. Running a startup in a global pandemic is like riding a roller coaster that's on fire with no harness. There is no playbook in an unprecedented crisis. For most, the past few weeks have been sobering. Startups are designed to adapt or die. So what steps are we taking now in response to the Titanic punch to the economy?
Survival Mode – Unless you are selling hand sanitizer or toilet paper, cutting spending and renegotiating leases are no-brainer kind of decisions. We look closer than ever at our sales forecasts, expenses and revise every assumption about our business. We watch every dollar we spend, reduce the burn and we are always ready to think out of the box if there's no other way. Extend the runway and live to fight another day.
People – The key to surviving any crisis is talent. Entrepreneurs already have few boundaries between work and personal lives and the current situation is testing us in ways we could never have imagined. We've all had to make big sacrifices, some at the cost of our personal lives in order to survive. The team knows that we are all in the same boat and we are in this together.
Speed – The future of our company depends on our ability to make rapid decisions and execute. It's a time to make hard decisions about priorities, projects, lines of business, and even staffing and they need to happen FAST. The speed of decision-making has decreased from a few days to a matter of hours. When you can make tough decisions quickly, you'll be able to emerge from the crisis and thrive.
Transparency – Lead with transparency. Active and transparent communication are more important than ever between all parties. We do video meetings with the team to communicate the rapid decisions we are constantly making. Be visible and available; be open and share issues the company is facing and have productive conversations with the team on creative ways to tackle the problems.
Investors – Like all communication, transparency is key with your investors. Have regular dialogue with your investors. Use your investors to get the support you need, work closely and craft funding solution with existing investors rather than new investors if needed.
Sales and marketing - Sales cycles will lengthen and deal sizes will shrink during crisis. Sales generally relies heavily on in-person meetings and will experience harsh transition into new sales processes with video conferencing. Have realistic forecasts but be more aggressive than ever when pursuing deals.
Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Our startup will be doing the same right alongside with you in the toughest economic climate we've ever experienced.