Tips for your startup to make it through COVID-19

1. Analyse your current state of affairs

• Do you have enough cash?
• Can you raise more capital – and how?
• What’s your current burn rate?
• Assess your business plan – how can you make the best of this situation?
• Find a back-up supplier if your primary supplier is struggling
• Get a plan in place for declining revenue
• Which metrics have changed since the start of the outbreak and how?
• How is demand changing?
• Should you put future plans on hold?
• Apply for Small Business Administration assistance loan, although it’s not a quick turnaround
• Draw up emergency plans if things get really tough

2. Keep an eye on your spending

• Create a cashflow budget (fixed and variable costs)
• Consider making cuts to costs if you’re able to
• Renegotiate contracts and your payment processing rates
• Consider other sources of revenue – or savings/loans
• Halt hiring of further employees – consider freelancers instead
• Change your employees’ employment statuses only as a last resort
• Consider asking for a rent abatement
• Do you have any office space to sublet or any assets to sell?
• Collect as much income as you can, but perhaps give struggling customers the option of credits
• Prioritize cashflow; assign employees to relevant processes even if training is needed

3. Assess your marketing strategy

• Keep customers and clients updated (e.g. through email/social media)
• When using social media, make sure to think before you post
• Keep an eye on the news and only react to reliable information
• Make connections with your local community – can you provide any resources?
• Alternate ways of connecting to your clients (try live-streaming or deliveries, if applicable)
• Consider social media ads
• Create online content – how-to guides and blog posts are great for SEO and boosting traffic
• Offer discounts to customers if you’re in a position to do so
• Survey your customers to find out what they’re looking for at this time
• Change strategies giving you a low ROI

4. Keep communication open and free

• Let your team know your plans
• Outline any changes and assuage them of any concerns
• At the same time, let your shareholders and investors know your plans too
• Explain the thought process behind your decisions
• Be available to speak to employees if they have any questions
• Clearly set out COVID-19 policies – including health and safety protocol and recommended guidelines
• Try to use video-conferencing technology and digital communications where possible
• Make sure all employees are clear with how to use Zoom, Slack, Google Hangout etc.

5. Make sure employees are happy

• Protect your employees as much as you can
• Stop hiring unless a new recruit is necessary
• Offer help with regards to working remotely
• Be flexible with schedules/mental health and other requirements or issues people may have
• Use resources like Zoom and Slack, and have fun with them
• Hold large virtual meetings to keep everyone included and up-to-date
• Get feedback from your staff
• Be reasonable with sick leave, and communicate changes in policy to your employees
• Do a talent audit on your employees to decide who to prioritize should difficult decisions have to be made
• Make sure your staff know of any help or programs they might be entitled to
• Promote teamwork and pulling together as a community
• If you still require staff in the workplace, supply everything they might need

6. Make sure customers are happy

• Use social media, both for marketing and for market research
• Keep communication regular and clear
• Offer digital/virtual services as they are more accessible
• Offer freebies if you’re in a position to
• Call in with regulars and offer your assistance
• Take advantage of home delivery and/or contactless transactions
• Prioritize your customers as they’ll remember this further down the line
• Take care of your employees to as customers will notice this
• Change your production to meet customers’ changing needs
• Go online – depending on your industry you can feature on Postmates, DoorDash, Etsy, Amazon etc.
• Can your regular customers refer their friends and spread the word?

7. Use the time for innovation

• Consider new features, services and products which you can offer
• Get your staff brainstorming
• How will the world change after the pandemic, and what can you offer to assist?
• What can you do for your customers and clients now?
• Analyse the growth of alternative markets and ways in which you can infiltrate
• Keep an eye on trends in your sector
• Virtual services – what can you make digital?
• If you sell products, can you move into services for the time being?
• Think short, medium, and long-term, in terms of who will need your products and services

8. Keep an eye on competition

• How your competitors managing, and are they keeping their customers/clients happy?
• Potentially work with competitors when offering products and services
• Market alongside your competitors
• Take on quality staff if they’re making employees redundant
• Take on other firms if they’re not managing well

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