Surviving the Pandemic: How to Keep Your Startup Alive during Covid-19

Covid-19 has affected global business processes, causing great changes to both the way we run existing companies and (especially) the way we set off new undertakings. While some industries, like travel or hospitality, are losing out, others, like health tech, e-commerce, or e-education, are enjoying more demand. Moreover, such essential business boosters as networking, collaborating with teams, and raising capital have become more challenging. Taking into account all that, using traditional business approaches to survive the pandemic is irrelevant.

In this article, you’ll find 9 tips on how to execute your startup in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. They will help you both survive the current crisis and adapt your business to the upcoming challenges.

1. Change Your Strategy

This is the first thing you need to do in any economic crisis. Do your reality check to see if your previous business expectations still hold water. In any case, at least a half of them will need rebuilding. Redo your company’s strategy to fit current conditions and build realistic expectations concerning your market, product, customers, and revenue. Most likely, they’re not really relevant, so you’ll have to think of a more flexible business model and new channels to approach your customers and/or partners. Create your strategic plan to survive at least the first 12 months. Review it daily and make weekly updates. The main point here is to stay flexible enough to adopt quickly to new business challenges.

2. Go Virtual

Here, we’ll talk not only about changing your office workspace into working from home and meeting with your co-workers virtually but also about doing business deals remotely.

The strange yet good thing about working remotely is that when everyone has moved to doing Zoom calls from home, it created a special collaborative atmosphere. We all have the same pain now – doing calls is not that comfortable from home, yet we all understand that and accept building remote relationships as something really safe.

Besides, numerous researches have shown that investors and customers are eager to make decisions through online interactions, though online investments have never seemed attractive. Nearly half of NFX respondents that are VCs admitted they have already invested in startups without meeting their founders personally, and 60% of them say they would like to invest online.

It’s also worth saying that working online opens up new network opportunities – now, we all can participate in online meetups/conferences and that way connect with potential partners.

3. Communicate Often

Meeting virtually has to become an everyday must now. If half a year ago it was OK to have a 10-minute call a day to give your customer work updates, now the number and duration of calls have increased for many reasons. One of them (probably, the most important one) is that your customer needs to do that reality check and control remote processes well. Everyone – from employees to investors  – are worried, that’s why we’d recommend that you keep them updated as often as possible.

4. Manage Your Budget Wisely

Build a new monthly budget for the crisis period. The good thing is to think 12 months ahead, cause most likely this is how long you’ll need that money. 

In any crisis, it’s really crucial to reduce costs that aren’t critical. Think of the ways to keep your startup to a minimum of expenses – shut your office space, decrease communications, leverage reduced taxes, etc. It’s never a pleasant thing to do, but if you have to – consider downsizing your team, too. A crisis is actually the time to see who fits your business best, be it an employee or a partner.

5. Consider Alternative Financing

Fundraising has become more difficult during the pandemic, especially for the early-stage startups, since it’s hard to predict what the economy will look like in the next 12 months. Although investors are still investing (at a lower valuation, in companies that don’t require big amounts of money), capital raising will be this difficult even after the COVID-19 pandemic, since investors will need time to get back on their feet.

That’s why we strongly recommend that you consider alternative funding resources.  Explore local government-based programs aimed at supporting small businesses or special low-interest or no-interest bank loans.

Many accelerators, like Techstars or 500Kobe Accelerator, have also introduced programs to help early-stage startups survive the crisis and present their solutions to battle the pandemic.

At FutureBlock Malta, we assist global startups in applying for Malta-based grants and support plans. Learn more and apply for a relevant program here. At VentureRocket, we deal closely with many investors, innovation ecosystems, and governments that support startups from all over the world. Click here to explore your best opportunities.

6. Make Business Development and Marketing Your Priorities

As we’ve already said, a crisis is a perfect time to rebuild your business model and look for new ways to gain customers. For this, business development and marketing have to become your main helpers. Consider joining your industry communities, attending as many online events as possible, and establishing accounts in more social media channels, because this is where you’ll find more customers. As all business is done online now, a good online marketing strategy is the key to your survival.

7. Look for New Opportunities

Who said that a crisis leaves out opportunities? We’d say this is exactly vice versa: a crisis is your time to look extensively for new ways to thrive. COVID-19 has actually opened up new opportunities for numerous industries. E-education, e-commerce, and health tech are performing even better than before the crisis, and you have an opportunity to build a solution that will help battle the pandemic, too. Get creative and think of adapting/creating solutions that will bring some social value.

8. Consult Your Investors

Two points are crucial here. The first one is about staying true with your investors and updating them regularly on the current situation. It’s more than important now to be honest and transparent with investors, for this is the time they check if you are still worth partnering with.

Secondly, don’t be afraid of consulting them. Your investors are interested in helping you if they see you act honestly and professionally with them. Except for money, they have lots of experience to give you. Just ask them to advise you.

9. Work on Your References

In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, references are more than important.

If lead generation takes much time and doesn’t bring many results at first, it’s time to think of your 1st connections – people who have already worked with you, know you well, and could recommend working with you to other customers from the same industry. This kind of partnership is always trustworthy, besides, it’s really important to get to know your customer before you start collaborating with them. 

Final Thoughts

The main thing you should learn about any crisis is that it’s your perfect time to ACT. Get flexible. Adopt your business to new reality circumstances. And stay (at least try to) positive. Remember: crises don’t last forever. Your responsibility is to get prepared and just do what you have planned.

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