Navigating This Crisis: Founder Insight
Any crisis is a test to your business. But the current COVID-19 situation is testing founders and their businesses like nothing else since the financial crisis of 2008. These are unprecedented times. Now could be the time to bury your head in the sand until the world goes back to normal. Or it is precisely the time to pivot and innovate.
Dr. Maurice Ferre, CEO & Chairman of Insightec and I were asked to join a panel moderated by Marco Gibreti Founder and CEO of Vesuvio Ventures to discuss the topic of how we, as founders are navigating the current crisis. We talked about two key questions, what to do and what not to do. The following is a summary of that discussion and experience share of how we at Wyncode & Wyntalent are navigating the crisis. See link at the end for a podcast of the full conversation.
Crisis brings with it the opportunity to test yourself which (hopefully) brings out the best. For Wyncode the impact of COVID-19 has most certainly brought challenges but it has brought the best out in our team and it pushed us to pivot. The silver lining for us has been a variety of things, the main one being the launch of our online learning program called Wyncode Remote LIVE. It has also been energizing to see the unity, effectiveness and dedication of our team and students who have all rallied to work as hard as ever on the journey of transforming into software developers and product designers.
What To Do
Lean on community! In particular on your fellow founders. It’s a unique, crazy journey being a founder during normal times. This multiplies 10x when the world is in a position such as this. I stay connected with founders through amazing communities like Endeavor and Entrepreneur Organization. I have also made a point to reach out via text, facetime or voice note to fellow founders not in those communities to check in but also to have a space to share.
Identify your options, make a plan & take swift action. As founders, we need to be decisive and take action. Look at your cashflow, how much runway do you have? We created a few different scenarios. If we miss certain revenue goals, that will trigger cost saving measures (of varying degrees) for our business. One of the biggest costs most companies have is people. Given the current global climate it’s fair to say that we are all going to have to make some tough decisions if those decisions haven’t already been made. In the end you need to preserve the company in order for people to have jobs to return to. Even after you have made this plan, make sure to reevaluate regularly. Make it part of your process since this is an unprecedented time and there is so much uncertainty. I surveyed a small group of top entrepreneurs in Miami and here is what one of them shared when I asked what they have done to get through this: “1) Develop multiple contingency plans that address varying degrees of revenue reductions in order to extend cash runway, 2) communicate to our community/clients to support them during this time., 3) Pursue public subsidies.” If you are a small business you can apply for Payroll Protection (PPP). Another said “Preserve cash, communicate regularly, adjust goals.”
Over communicate and be transparent. Communication and transparency is at the core of many successful businesses. Now is the time to let people know exactly what’s going on. In surveying founders a majority mentioned the importance of communication, “closer communication with clients and team”.
Negotiate everything. From rent abatement to licenses, insurance and subscriptions. Save everywhere possible.
What NOT To Do
Don’t panic. As one founder put it simply, “Don’t panic, don’t overspend”. Know that crisis can breed chaos and while unsettling it also brings opportunity. The best founders thrive in challenging situations. This is exactly one of those situations. Bring out the best in yourself, your team and your business.
Don’t act like it’s business as usual. It isn’t. “Don’t ignore things and pretend like things will return to normal quickly. We have never dealt with a pandemic like this and we are not sure of how long this will last. We cannot simply go about business as normal without making major adjustments.” For some, business will never return to what it was before the crisis. Now is the time to pivot and innovate – not the time to keep on trying what worked before in the hope that it will work now. Look at the options, plan and have backup plans ready in case they are needed.
The above survey was sent to a small but established group of entrepreneurs in South Florida.
The world is in a state of flux right now. With that said, some pretty successful businesses have been founded in times of challenge and uncertainty. Companies like Whatsapp, Venmo, Groupon were all born during the 2008 financial crisis.
How has COVID changed your product or service offering? What are you doing to make your pivot a success in these difficult times and beyond?