"What do we do and how do we go about it?"

As spring turns into summer and the fears of lockdown turn into the uncertainties of release, many early stage companies are effectively having to start all over again, either because they have been temporarily closed and have been in something of a coma like state, or because they have pivoted and the business plan has changed from the original. The question being asked by so many, is ‘what do we do and how do we go about it?’ and is focused around the fundamental question that takes all founders back to the origins of their business.

Unlike some questions overheard in a startup recently, this one is not one that I have only heard in recent times, but one that is quite common in more normal circumstances also. Normally, however, it is being asked by founders that are at the very beginning of their startup journey, whereas now it is being asked by founders that have already started up but are now re-starting after the unintentional and unwelcome break brought about by the coronavirus lockdown.

And just as the government advice on all things about coming out of lockdown cannot be over formulaic but must rely on common sense and each of us applying the guidance to our own circumstances, then so is that true for businesses. Each business is different and has its own unique circumstances, and so it is that each business owner will need to answer this question from their own unique perspective.

But whilst there are certainly many global uncertainties that did not exist when your business was founded, nevertheless the answers to these questions are so much easier than before because you have already answered them when you established your business originally. This time round you are a more experienced founder and you already know what products or services you have, you know what your client base looks like, you know what has proven to be successful in the past and what less so, and you know what advisers you can turn to. Hopefully, you may even have an Advisory Board already in place to help you to understand what to do and how to go about it. 

So this time round, look upon yourself as a seasoned entrepreneur rather than starting up for the first time. Harness that positive approach and the ‘can do’ attitude that every entrepreneur needs to have in order to have started out in the first place. Simply make sure that you learn from any previous lessons, and that you also learn from any positive steps that you may have taken during lockdown.

In business, as in life, we all learn more lessons from things that have gone wrong from things that have gone right, for the simple reason that successes may have had large elements of luck in them and are never analysed in the same way as failures. And whilst the coronavirus lockdown might not have been a failure per se, it should nevertheless have made you analyse every part of your business in much the same way as though it were a failure, and so many lessons will have been learned from this experience.

With this combination of increased experience, proven survivability, increased adaptability, and quite probably enhanced product or service offerings, your rise Phoenix like from the ashes of lockdown is more likely to be more graceful and rapid then even you might have dared to have hoped. By drawing on all this new found experience, hopefully it will become clear to all what to do and how to go about it, and soon each of us will be able to start to set our sights on the horizon once more.