The post-pandemic new normal is not about social distancing, self-isolation, or remote working. It's about automation, efficiency, resiliency, and re-invention.
There is no doubt that fundraising is harder as investors are more selective. Before the pandemic, startups were competing against other great startups. Now, they are also competing against equity markets and portfolio commitments.
It's more important than ever for startups to have a sustainable action plan to make them stand out. Building leverage with investors and market strength during the crisis is crucial. Here are 3 tips I give any startup who wants to thrive during the pandemic.
#1 Do not play the waiting game.
Stop yourself whenever you say, "when this crisis is over," as you default to basing your business on an indefinite time-limit and on assumptions. I usually joke that if you approach an investor and hint that you are waiting for Covid-19 to be over, the investor will say, "come back after you finish waiting."
#2 Embrace the current normal.
Many startups feel like they are putting out fires and salvaging their business. It is essential to try to position your company not to fight the crisis but to embrace it.
Most startups tend to maintain a binary thought process: crisis vs. post-crisis. This can lead you to consider the crisis as a bump in the road, rather than a new reality. This half-hearted approach to adjusting your business would encourage you to defer much of your strategy to the uncertain post-crisis time rather than change them for the current climate.
A crisis tends to change the marketplace, and you'll need to ask yourself how your market has changed. Develop a plan for the current market and incorporate it into your existing vision.
#3 Pivot for growth
Pivots, for those unfamiliar, is when you change your business strategy to fit new conditions. This could be a change in product features, purpose, or even the mode of delivery.
Small businesses are usually frightened of the word Pivot. I like to look at three questions every startup needs to ask themselves during any market shock:
Do I need to change how my product is delivered? The education industry can serve as an example. Traditional brick-and-mortar colleges and classrooms have been relatively untouched for many years. The crisis has shaken the foundations of education delivery, and even top institutions are scurrying to provide innovations in the way classrooms and courses are delivered.
Do I need to change my product's purpose? The tourism industry will definitely need to think about success through current times. Introduction by many hotels and travel agencies of 'staycations,' a concept of providing holidays or events within your home country or city, has shown promising success. This change of purpose for travel agencies and hotels can both re-focus their business towards resiliency and growth.
Do I need to change my product? This is the most extreme type of Pivot. If you are building a business around physical events, physical retail, and things heavily reliant on discretionary spending, you will have to rethink how you can adapt.
This is a once in a lifetime event for all of us. But investors are still looking for amazing startups. People have a tendency to inflate problems and expect the worst. The "new normal" is a normal where we are the same people with the same desires, interests, and the same needs to be around others.
I believe the one and lasting effect of this pandemic is technology adoption, and the transformation of many industries to utilize such technology. This is where all of you come in.