Funding or no funding - The pandemic shouldn’t deter your startup’s growth
Anushka Iyer, Founder and CEO, Wiggles.in gives some practical tips and advice to startups on surviving crises.
‘Fall down seven times but get up eight!’ is an old proverb that stands true for all startups. Be it the COVID-19 pandemic or any other unseen enemy that might hit business, they say if you plan to build a startup, you have to build yourself to be physically and mentally strong and resilient.
But it’s not just about building yourself to face all the challenges thrown against you, it is also about building a team that responds to challenges head on with you.
When faced with turbulent times, some try to retrace their steps to familiar territory, to try and make life predictable again, some choose to ride with the tide. Others choose to reach out to embrace the change and create value.
The future belongs to those who look beyond the pressure to slash jobs, capture value and retreat, and instead choose to pursue sustainable value creation. Following are a few techniques (that have helped me personally) that could help you face challenges head on, and create an opportunity for growth even during such turbulent times.
Deepen your customer connect
Follow the online footprints of your customer’s behaviour. Try and understand their needs and requirements during a crisis. How will your product add value to their lifestyle?
Sharing relatable content via Social Media platforms can help a great deal - ask for feedback, and go that extra mile to understand your customer’s pulse during these uncertain times.
You can even create an online community where advice or suggestions can be shared with your customers. Create marketing campaigns that are money savers with a great concept, and have every chance of going viral. Ensure you work with like-minded influencers only as they would believe and hence love to push your cause.
Re-strategise to suit the economic climate
How are your products or offerings faring as compared to your competitors? Are there any chances of collaboration wherein both will be able to provide exceptional service through channels and vendors to customers? Do a recce which will help you understand the impact on which part of your business has been affected most.
Re-visit strategies and re-strategise to figure alternatives in which it can be revived. Does the sales team need to rethink their strategy? If it is worth, hold on launching a certain product/service although it has been in the works for a while. This is a great time to use the whiteboard to enlist all possible questions that crop up, and try and look at the bigger picture.
Rope in your investors and build on ideas that would help revive a product in a renewed form. Use free social media tools to elevate your business which will still give you good results as far as reach is concerned.
Be agile - adapt and innovate
Be attuned to what your customers are asking for or saying through word of mouth. How are they reacting to your products or offerings? Are they referring them to others? Do your products complement the need to be safe and protected in the COVID-19 climate? Are they really adding value to your customers, can you better them to suit the changing climate? Are your products relevant? Do they have a safe shelf life? Are you following the standard norms and practices while testing? Are they eco-friendly?
It’s the process of experimentation and failure that gets successful innovators through challenges. But while it’s important to be flexible, avoid lunging on one opportunity after another. Leaders need to be resilient and agile, to steer a path through these uncharted waters.
Revenue streams creation and resource management
Ensure that you have your existing finances in place and are being guided by a resourceful team of people who can create multiple streams of revenue to aid your startup. Can these revenue streams be handled by a single team or do you need the experts to chip in?
Check the company valuation regulations and how they are impacting your startup. Regulations and regulators evolve as years go by, hence the need to constantly re-evaluate whether your product goodwill has been impaired.
Build a high performing remote team
Unity is strength and when there is teamwork and collaboration, the unimaginable can also be achieved. Get the fun back in working together virtually. Virtual meetings and video calls are helping avoid work commute which might have taken a minimum of 2-3 hours in metros.
Make that phone call to that colleague whom you haven’t spoken to in ages. Remember, for remote teams to exist and thrive, transparency and accountability are critical factors.
To ensure your workforce is lean and flexible, focus on a mix of permanent as well as gig/contractual employees. Your hiring strategies will need to evolve to create the right sourcing channels to look for the ideal candidate. Try to make optimal use of current resources instead of recruiting a new talent pool. A bad hire would cost you time, money and energy, so hire smart and create a blended workforce.
Calm the monkey mind and think on your feet. Adapt, pivot and re-strategise. Transparency, honesty and empathy are key to building, establishing and deepening trust between stakeholders. Keep your ears to the ground, listen to what your customers say. Trust your team. Learn to take rejection in your stride.
Remember to take a few steps back to move a few steps forward. Ensure that your startup does not bite the dust, and don't stop growing and learning. If your idea has a spark, nothing can stop you from backing your passion and building it up into an inspiring torch of enlightenment.
Edited by Anju Narayanan
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)