5 Tips on How Startups Can Make It Through Uncertain Times
Given the global economic uncertainty recently with the COVID-19 disaster that’s happening, Founders and business owners feel like they’re living on the edge. Life as a startup can be difficult enough when things were normal, but this pandemic just adds more pressure.
We outline 5 ways you and your startup can tackle these unprecedented times by coming out of the other side unscaved.
Retention is Key
In a time where gaining new customers may be difficult, focus on the retention of your current customer base. The cost of winning new customers/users can be high and will require a lot more effort, which means it may do more harm than good. If you focus on keeping your churn rate low and reinvesting in the areas which have brought you success, your customer base will appreciate the commitment.
At the end of the day, if you’re not losing customers/users, it’s a positive during these uncertain times. Reach out to your customers and make your availability known to them. Go that extra mile and find out how they are doing and what they need. Keep your brand in their head as much as possible, whilst demonstrating that you’re there for your community.
Identify Your ‘Needs’ and ‘Desires’
Time is something that you can’t put a price on, so don’t waste it on things that are not important for your business. Especially for startups who have smaller teams and budgets, it’s incredibly important to prioritise the activities which are critical at that moment in time.
Startups should operate as lean as possible in general, mainly because revenues are not as consistent as businesses which have been operating for years. For those ‘nice to have’ activities and outgoings, put them on pause for a minute. They can wait until your startup is ready to spend on the desires, rather than only focusing on the needs.
Have a Growth Mindset
As we just mentioned, it’s critical to identify what’s important for your business right now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare things now for when these unprecedented times begin to go back to normal life. Think about activities that will help you in the long run, such as working on a marketing plan, audits, updating content on your website, back-end processes etc. You’ll be surprised what tasks will need to be done for a later date that can be prepared now.
Shift your thinking and consider how what you offer can help people. You should always market and sell with this “help first” mentality. Educate users rather than just sell, sell, sell. This is a great way of boosting your social media presence as well. You will find that content that educates users, will be more engaging than your posts which advertise a sale. The reason being is that you’re providing value to people engaging with your content. That’s a big thumbs up.
When you’re in challenging times, you shouldn’t have to do it alone. In fact, we encourage you to be transparent with your investors and all of the people that are closest to your startup. They are there to support you through the challenging times and like they say, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
If it’s a financial issue and you’re finding that your cash burn rate is high, it’s important to let investors/advisors know about the situation. The reason being is that if the situation becomes worse, it may take a lot more to fix the issue. It’s about being proactive when you’re looking for help. It’s crucial to remember that you’re not in this on your own, there are people around you that can and will support you.
It’s Time to Build Resilience
Be positive in everything you do. As a business owner, you will go through ups and downs which will bring a different level of stress. Remaining positive and confident that things can only get better for your business, will be very beneficial and a smart strategy to undertake.
Even if it means the unfortunate situation of reducing staff, operating costs, partnerships or contracts, do it whilst looking on the upside. It may look bleak now, but in 6 months time the world will look a lot different. The smarter and more strategic plans you make now will pay off when everything begins to settle and you’ll be thanking your past-self for the preparations done now.
Our Final Thoughts
Being a startup Founder or a business owner in any industry is never easy, especially in unprecedented times like now. But there are ways we can come out of the otherside in one piece and the way we can do that is by getting help where possible. Whether it’s from investors/advisors, users, family & friends, or just a business community, it can all help. Just remember that it can only get better and there are businesses that are a lot worse off.
Contapp has been a rollercoaster journey so far, but that was expected from a very saturated industry. The tech industry is fierce and in general, requires a lot of money to keep up with the ‘big boys’. However, our unfamiliar route of bootstrapping our tech startup did not intimidate us. Although it’s a slow growth, we are growing organically with no debt. We are proud of the business so far and couldn’t thank all of our users around the world enough for making our platform what it is today. The only way is up!