Business Emergency Planning in the Face of COVID-19

Posted by Ia Del Rosario-Gust - March 24, 2020 • 5-minute read

Help Your Business Survive the COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 is forcing businesses everywhere into implementing their emergency and business continuity plans. Entrepreneurs who started a company to do some good in the world need to survive this pandemic if they want to fulfill their business “why.”

Unless this crisis has naturally created opportunities for your business, you need to implement a business emergency plan—switch to survival mode.

If you don’t know where to start to protect your business from the COVID-19 threat, please consider these steps:


Step 1: Communicate a clear and straightforward message openly and honestly with your team.

I was in London when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that COVID-19 had become a pandemic.

Two things immediately came to mind: 

    1.  I needed to go home and be with my family; and 
    2.  I needed to get on the same page with our teams in the Philippines. 

The first flight home I could get on was not leaving for another day, so I reached out to our leadership team, asked their help to gather questions from everyone, worked with them to answer every question raised, and held a virtual town hall over Zoom.

Here is a link to the presentation the leadership team and I put together with a few slides taken out for privacy: SA Virtual Town Hall: On the Same Page in Responding to COVID-19. We recorded the virtual town hall and made the recording available to everyone in the company. 

We also held a separate briefing for our leadership teams to communicate that our companies are switching to survival mode.

Here is a link to the briefing slides: COVID-19 Business Response.

Some of these ideas came from a presentation that Sequoia Capital shared with its portfolio companies back in 2008: RIP Good Times.

Have a look at the graph below illustrating the “survival of the quickest”:

Survival of the Quickest R.I.P. Good Times Sequoia Capital 2008

Time is of the essence. Original photo courtesy of Sequoia Capital.

Step 2: Increase and preserve cash

We don’t know the extent of the damage this pandemic will bring nor the time it would take for us to recover.

If we run entrepreneurial businesses with limited resources, we need to be as prudent and conservative as possible. How?

    1.  Operate as lean as you can, with as few people as possible. Immediately cut non-essential spending. Immediately. Find out what you can do legally to run a skeletal force. The Philippines, for example, has released guidelines on implementing flexible work arrangements to help businesses survive the COVID-19 outbreak. Here is a link to these guidelines released by the Department of Labor and Employment: Labor Advisory No. 09 Series of 2020.
    2.  Revert all budgets to zero and justify every expense. Every dollar we save on unnecessary costs can help pay for what the business needs to survive. 
    3.  Spend every dollar as if it were your last. 

We cannot be over-prepared or overly prudent about COVID-19, especially from a cash flow perspective. 

Step 3: Focus on helping customers and clients

As a business, now is the time to reflect on our purpose, cause or passion: our “why” and find a way to fulfill that purpose.

Here we can be creative—fulfilling our business purpose in the face of COVID-19.

I remember the late, great Professor Clay Christensen explaining the jobs to be done framework. He says that people don’t simply buy products or services. They “hire” products or services to get a job done.

Hopefully, our business purpose, cause or passion IS the job our customers and clients want to be done—and there may be other ways to help them get the job done and fulfill our purpose.

In his Scary Times Manual, Dan Sullivan shared ten strategies to keep entrepreneurs focused during turbulent times.

Strategy no. Three is "Forget about the sale, focus on creating value."

As entrepreneurial leaders, let’s focus our energy and the energy of our teams on what we can do today for our businesses to survive. If we can survive, we can thrive. 

StraightArrow’s purpose is to “create for the world” as a creative process outsourcing company that acts as our clients' creative muscle.

So the questions we are asking ourselves now are:

  • What are our clients creating today as we all face the pandemic?
  • How can we help?

Our creative designers, creative technology specialists, and digital marketers are standing by to provide creative and digital marketing support to help businesses as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

We believe that as the crisis escalates, it’s vital that creatives learn to lean on each other’s strengths and continue creating for the world.  

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Business

Written By

Ia Del Rosario-Gust

Ia Del Rosario-Gust

Haraya Del Rosario Gust is the CEO of StraightArrow - a pioneer of Creative Process Outsourcing in the Philippines. She is a huge fan and advocate of Filipino creatives. Her lifelong passion is helping entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial leadership teams discover their best selves.

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