6 Ways Startups Can Stay Ahead of Disruption

1. Overcommunicate.

During times of unexpected crisis and other business surprises such as COVID-19, you must communicate as often as possible with your investors, customers, and employees.

By now, you’ve already explained how committed you are to maintaining safe, healthy, and responsible business procedures. Now it’s time to let them know that “you’ve got this.” Explain how you and your teams are planning to move forward with your business.

Create or support a collaborative remote work environment for your people. Maintain regularly scheduled meetings via video conferencing, and create opportunities for each other to check in frequently. If you’re not already using Microsoft Teams, Slack, or some other instant messaging service, start exploring your options.

When communicating, address specific individuals on your teams and customers. This will re-establish your confidence in and among the folks in your network. Putting a name or face to a project will also make it easier for people to know who to reach out to and when.

Finally, be proactive in seeking out conversations to help ease any insecurities and make a positive influence on your network. In other words, don’t wait for people to come to you with questions. Instead, think of as many potential questions people will have right away, and then issue those answers in a statement before they are asked.

2. Share Your Expertise.

You’re the leader and authority at your business. People in and out of your network will be turning to you and your company for expert-level takes on your business and industry. After all, you’ve built your organization to solve a problem—how can you help others solve theirs?

Establish yourself as an industry leader online. As a trusted resource, you should be sharing posts on LinkedIn and publishing blogs on your corporate website.

If people can count on you now, they’ll remember you after things settle down. Conversely, your silence or absence will also be remembered. Keep your engagement going in thoughtful and appropriate ways.

3. Explore New Pool of Talent.

Sadly, many people are now facing uncertain employment situations. This is a great time for you to focus on creating new opportunities for job seekers in your community. If you’ve still got room for growth at your business, post openings online and stay active on job boards.

As large companies continue to make cuts, be strategic in your response. Try and find some people who are in a position to move your company forward, especially those who may be interested in transitioning to a smaller company like yours—one that is better positioned to create unique and valuable relationships with employees.

4. Maintain Control of Your Expenses.

During this time, you could be facing unpredictable revenues, especially in a B2B environment. It’s also going to be difficult to bring in new clients, and you might experience a freeze on your general expenditures.

To keep your business going while staying sensitive to the COVID-19 situation, be careful about what products and services you’re promoting. Think twice about your sales messaging. While you definitely want to keep an eye out for new business development opportunities, you want to do so tastefully. Determine which of your offerings will help people most during this time.

Internally, work with your team to create multiple business scenarios: best-case, average-case, and worst-case—and then be prepared to operate in any of those capacities.

5. Don’t Forget About Funding.

Venture capital funding could dry up fast, so don’t rely on it too much. Instead, try to get a clear picture of where you are with current or potential fundraising.

Ask yourself critical capital questions: Are there other ways for you to pull in cash? What are your budgets for external suppliers? What is your headcount? Salaries? Expenses?

Finally, don’t forget check out government aid programs in your area.

6. Stay Nimble.

Big companies have a lot of layers to go through when reorganizing and understanding market conditions. But as an emerging business, you can leverage your size to move quickly. Determine the best path forward and act on it!

By Pete Petrella, Managing Director

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