Like every small business in the world right now, New Zealand's early stage startups are so vulnerable. Short runways, little or no cash, investors slowing up, early sales falling away it's all happening right now to some of the teams we work with and maybe also to you.
If you're an early stage startup founder, here are some immediate and practical things you can do right now to help your business:
- Mindset: First of all, this is happening to EVERYONE all around the world. This is a shared experience and the global startup community really is showing up and sharing and supporting. There are a lot of great brains out there and you're one of them so take it one step at a time and help others too.
- Team: Get that #remoteworking flow going so that every team member can settle into a productive and comfortable routine. Some of your team will be super anxious and grateful for some time to get their sh*t together. But, many will crave the daily routine which can really help keep anxiety at bay.
- Cashflow: If you haven't already got a live cashflow doc you look at weekly, create one. If you need a template, I'm happy to share mine or even happier to connect you to one of our friends at EY who can hook you up. Go to your live cashflow spreadsheet and focus on the next 3 months - now reduce every single expense that you can. e.g. Can you get rent relief from your coworking community or your landlord? At Te Ōhaka, when we closed our startup hub, desk rentals at every sponsorship level stopped. Don't forget to update any expense that no longer exists because of remote working (e.g. I had a pretty big line item for printing event posters, there won't be any posters because no one will see them) and move it to where you need it most (e.g. wages).
- Pivots: Get in front of your customers with your privot before they come to you with cancellations. Check in with our customers and bring them along with you as you work out what services you can take online or within the boundary of our 'no contact' world. They'll be doing the same with their own ventures so - while an idea at first may seem like a stretch, they are already stretching.
- Growth: Can you pivot gracefully and non-opportunistically to find new customers with your new offering? Does your new pivot have relevance to your current customer pipeline? Are free trials in return for case studies or social proof an option for you?
- Support: I'm assuming that you will already have applied for the NZ government's business support package. If you haven't done that yet, get onto it right here. Check out some supplier freebies like Google Hangouts Advanced being offered for free until July 2020. Or then there's some excellent Zoom's resources on how to use their features like a pro. If you advertise on Facebook, they're working on a small business grants programme you can sign up for here.
- Marketing: What about your marketing funnel? Can you shorten it, tighten the targetting, or repurpose your offer so that it's super relevant and timely? Don't forget to check every last bit of content and creative to ensure that it is authentic and welcome to your customers who are just like you and feeling pretty anxious right now. Pull any campaign right now that doesn't tick those boxes.
And - don't forget, it's just business. #Failure is an option and it's not the end of you. Whether your startup survives or not, you have a life you might have been too busy to enjoy. Maybe this is the reset you needed to go about the rest of your life in a more intentional and fulfilling way.