5 Ways to Thrive Through Crisis

May 15, 2020

There is an abundance of content for business leaders surrounding the crisis we’re facing right now.

  • How-to around managing the remote team or essential tools for new business during COVID-19
  • Speculation about how long the coming downturn will last
  • Specific positioning tips to “make it through” 

It doesn’t really matter if you believe the recovery will be “U-shaped” or “V-shaped”. Good resources, deep thought and tough decisions are on the menu for every single leader in the world.

Despite hard times, some companies will thrive. Some will emerge stronger. It’s not just the Fortune 100s with tons of cash that have the opportunity to “make it” — smaller businesses have an opportunity to leverage superior strategy and operational nimbleness, too.

What characteristics position businesses for success during a crisis? We’ll cover five of the most important ones in this article.

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1. Play Offense, Not Defense 

You should already have a plan for the worst-case scenario. But don’t get caught in the a “wait and see” of maintaining income at a subsistence level. It’s essential to keep momentum, regardless of the external forces you face.

Scenario: Your business gets a PPP loan or an EIDL grant, buying you a couple months of operation at current spending levels.

Then what?

A few months down the road, the economy will still be in a state of upheaval. If your revenue is the exact same as it is today — without the opportunity of forgivable loans — are you going to be able to keep everyone employed?

Get into an offensive mindset: One that says, “We’re going to find a way to grow.” 

Maybe it’s to remain solvent at the current staffing level. Or maybe the goal is to shift how you offer your products or services and through that, become stronger. 

Ideas for the offensive

  • Proactively communicate with your customers, whether through emails, calls, texts, or social media. 
  • Use targeted offers that acknowledge the needs of your specific clientele. For instance, the CRM “Streak” offered to extend free trials, even if you’d previously had one that expired.

Continue to advertise. It’s never been more important to show those who are aware of your brand that you’re not going anywhere

2. Know Your Numbers

At this point, you’ve at least seriously considered what (or who) to cut from your expenses. You may have already acted on them. But how are you coming to these choices?

There are a lot of “numbers” that go into a business. Up until a few weeks ago, growing businesses almost solely measured marketing and sales leads, growth, churn and other key numbers during (and assuming) a bullish environment. 

All of a sudden, you’re canceling subscriptions, furloughing members of the staff and asking your bookkeeper about maximizing cash.

Key numbers to know

  • People numbers: Not just the total payroll (although that’s good to know), but how much revenue comes in per employee. These numbers allow you to make better staffing decisions.
  • ALL expenses: Not just the cost of goods and payroll. Really comb over your accounts to see every monthly charge, when your lease expires (since you’re likely remote) and find things to cut that are not mission-critical.
  • Cash flow/runway: Once you figure out all of the outgoing money, it’s time to figure out how much time you have at the rate you’re burning through the money. 

3. Pivot to prove value

When times are good, people buy things they wouldn’t normally splurge on. Today is different. Every business and individual is taking a long hard look at everything. If it’s not necessary, it’s gone.

What do you do? Prove your value through pivoting.

Your pivot could be in a new wartime-esque pitch which shows potential buyers exactly why your solution is better than someone else’s.

Example: Instead of offering broad real estate legal services at your law firm, focus on foreclosure services. It’s grim, but leaving emotions at the door in times like these will keep your business running strong and your employees on staff.

You can add more value to your current offerings, too, whether it’s sending extra of a certain product or adding services. The same law firm in our previous example could offer bankruptcy or consumer law services to meet clients’ changing needs.

4. Make the most of your opportunities 

You’re looking to improve during this crisis.

Focusing on reducing expenses and cash flow is good. But that’s where every other business already is. What’s equally important is making the most of revenue opportunities. 

Now, more than ever, you need to engage your potential clients and make a good first impression. Many businesses have taken a hit, not only in their revenue but in lead generation.

Conferences (a major sales channel) are non-existent. With your team scrambling to handle client work while also navigating work from home, there’s really no bandwidth to woo new potential clients. 

So, how do you make the most of your opportunities?

  • Create more content: Videos, white papers, and high-quality blog posts communicate, and resonate, with your leads. This material helps them learn about what it is you do and brings them to consider your solutions.
  • Open up communication: Offer live chat on your site and have someone ready to talk on the phone. These services are valuable — and prompt, responsive communication means more revenue. 
  • Use technology: Chatbots can collect lead data when you’re not around and video conferencing can take the place of in-person client meetings. Think about how you interact with leads and clients. 

5. Survive — and make a plan to thrive

You may think, “Wait, this is about how to improve. Not merely ‘survive’.”

However, there will be several months where everyone feels like they’re just trying to survive. And in a certain sense, it’s true. There will be ups and downs. Simply turn on any financial channel, you’ll likely hear the term “volatility” almost immediately.

A volatile stock market doesn’t directly affect every business, but there’s still likely to be a rollercoaster ahead. Plans will change and more than one pivot may be necessary. You may see great upheaval in your staffing. 

But your main goal remains the same: Survive through the crisis with enough cash on hand and infrastructure to take advantage of the inevitable upturn. Planning for success now will position you to take advantage later.

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