Jul 20, 2020

Worried About Building a Company During a Recession? Don’t Be

Ray Gibson Written by Ray Gibson

 

The current pandemic has upended the lives of millions of people across the globe. Companies of all sizes are struggling to stay afloat as governments aim to strike a balance between containing COVID and keeping businesses open. Unfortunately, there is no playbook for how we should navigate such uncertain waters. 
 
However, history tells us that there is ample opportunity for startups in times of crisis. Those who survive turbulent seasons tend to emerge stronger and more resilient overall. You can still accomplish great things over the next year, though your success might look different than how you originally anticipated.
 
In this post, we hope to encourage you and reinvigorate the optimistic spirit that initially pushed you into the startup world. At Funded.club, we sincerely believe you can overcome this pandemic. 

Many of Today’s Strongest Companies Were Born in Recessions
We often forget that many of the most successful companies in the world were founded during major crises. According to this Business Insider article, General Motors, Burger King, Trader Joe’s, Microsoft, Uber, and Airbnb, to name a few, were all born during recessions. Most of these companies have now survived multiple worldwide crises.
 
Companies that get through recessions have tremendous staying power because they learn how to fight through adversity. On top of that, those who make it to the other side have fewer competitors to outmaneuver. The playing field opens up significantly, leaving plenty of room for survivors to innovate and grow. 
 
Furthermore, recessions create attractive buying opportunities. Real estate, office equipment, and acquisition targets tend to get less expensive as companies shed inventory and grow more desperate. High-quality talent is also available at a discount because people are willing to accept less money in exchange for job security. 
 
Over the last 100 years, we’ve seen so many examples of smart and savvy leaders taking advantage of recessions to build foundations upon which to grow great companies. Keep this in mind as you battle anxieties related to running a startup under COVID. 

Trials Force Leaders to Innovate
“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

 
This quote rings true across many areas of life, including in business. It is times like these that force leaders to be creative, efficient, and careful - a curious combination of traits that often yields positive results. Those who recklessly push forward without adapting quickly to changing circumstances are the ones who often don’t survive to see better days. 
 
When cash flow is tight, startups have to hunker down and find ways to create the same or more value with fewer resources. Rather than take on additional debt, think first about how you can achieve your startup’s objectives without borrowing more money. You might be surprised at what you come up with when you’re backed into a corner. You’ll also be much more thoughtful about every dollar that you spend.
 
Keep in mind that your production doesn’t have to slow, even if your team shrinks. Consider how you can automate manual tasks that currently consume too much of your team’s energy, and drop activities that aren’t absolutely necessary. Say “no” often and focus intensely on your most important goals. 
 
In doing so, you may realize that you were stretched too thin when times were good. When you look back on this season a year from now, you may discover that your most innovative and important ideas surfaced out of such dire circumstances.

Remote Work Is Effective
One of the biggest revelations to come out of COVID is that remote work can be highly effective for many types of businesses. Although remote work can’t replace every element of the in-office experience, it is keeping many companies alive. Embrace remote work while it’s here and cut ties with expensive commercial real estate. You will be able to find another office space that you love.
 
What matters most right now is your ability to conserve cash and maintain productivity with your workforce scattered all over the city, country, or world. Take the time to study what experts say on how to keep employees motivated when they can’t share physical spaces. No matter how unnatural they feel, implement these strategies.
 
Of course, there are startups out there that don’t have the luxury of working remotely. But for those who can, remote work is a luxury that many businesses in the past could not take advantage of when they were struggling through past crises. Lean into remote work.

You Can Do It
To be clear, we aren’t dismissing the difficulty of building a startup right now. We understand how hard it is to stay motivated and encouraged. But, we are all fortunate enough to be able to look back at history and see how today’s most impressive leaders were able to get their companies through various trials and tribulations. And you can be someone others look back on one day for inspiration. Keep fighting.

Ray Gibson
Ray Gibson

Ray Gibson is founder and CEO of Funded.club. He brings 20 years of experience in recruiting across Europe, North America and Asia and 5 years running his own startups.

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