COVID-19 is forcing businesses everywhere into implementing their emergency and business continuity plans. Entrepreneurs who started a business 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 simple message openly and honestly with your team
I was in London when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that COVID-19 has become a pandemic. Two things immediately came to mind:
- I needed to go home and be with my family; and
- 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”:
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 are running entrepreneurial businesses with limited resources, we need to be as prudent and as conservative as possible. How?
- 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.
- Revert all budgets to zero and justify every expense. Every dollar we save on unnecessary expenses can help pay for what the business needs to survive.
- 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 is where we can be creative—in 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 done—and there may be other ways to help them get the job done and fulfill our purpose. Dan Sullivan, in his Scary Times Manual shared 10 strategies to keep entrepreneurs focused during turbulent times. Strategy no. 3 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.
As a creative process outsourcing company that acts as the creative muscle of our clients, StraightArrow’s purpose is to “create for the world”. 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 important that creatives wherever they are learn to lean on each other’s strengths and continue creating for the world.