Editor’s note: Each week Maynard Webb, former CEO of LiveOps and the former COO of eBay, will offer candid, practical, and sometimes surprising advice to entrepreneurs and founders. To submit a question, write to Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. I’m finding this current situation so hard because after years of fighting to survive we finally had the wind at our backs. People like our product, and we’ll get to break even next year. But with the recession, everyone has reduced budgets, and all of our goals and plans are now in flux. I understand this logically, but how do I deal with this emotionally?
—A frustrated founder
This is hard. I realize that it sucks, and it may take longer to get back to your original goals, but you will still be standing in a world where many others won’t. It’s okay to embrace the suckiness you feel about everything that wasn’t on the agenda. But not for long.
This is a reset. And the first thing you need to do is assess. We are living in a time where all expectations have been upended, but the consequences are not the same. What is your situation? Have things slowed down, or has your market evaporated temporarily, or even permanently? How fast can things recover?
I’ve seen great companies have to lay people off. Despite good leadership the product might not be something people still want, or the business model might not be something that will work in the post-coronavirus world. At the same time, other companies are seeing record highs as they happened to make something that is increasingly in demand. (Think software that manages shift schedules, remote working tools, or security.)
Like you, many have been rocked by the magnitude of the crisis. We now have to get over that and assess, communicate, and inspire.
- Look at what you are trying to achieve.
- Communicate with your employees, your board, your customers.
- There are opportunities that are emerging. What Salesforce is doing with its new offering Work.com, which helps businesses reopen their workplaces safely, is a great example.
- Ensure your company is stronger and better on a relative basis than before the pandemic. Ultimately, this is not just about surviving—it’s about coming out stronger.
This is a time of crisis. But the whole world is going through it at the same time. Everyone is grappling with the same things. You’ll figure it out. The scrappiness you used to get your company to where you are is the same scrappiness that will let you see opportunities in the new normal. Get on it!