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Head of Business Development, Asset Managment Tech Company

Inspire Positive Action (Leading your Startup through CRISIS Step #5)


Inspire positive action. That is what you can start doing as soon as you set up your business to sustain itself through the crisis.

Leading a Start-up Through a Crisis - Step 5

For startup founders and leaders who have been able to successfully navigate the worst of the current crisis, the next step is to start infusing your business with positive energy. Most companies have undoubtedly gone through a period letting some employees go while asking the employees who remain to take on an increased workload. This can harm morale, almost like a mourning period for the company and its employees. Because of this, it’s important to slowly build positive energy and positive action within the company before you start to make any big moves. Let’s look at four key elements of inspiring positive action and energy following the crisis.

How to infuse your business with positive energy after a crisis

Because of this, it’s important to slowly build positive energy and positive action within the company before you start to make any big moves. Let’s look at four key elements of inspiring positive action and energy following the crisis.

Other options before layoffs

The first step is to take care of the people inside your business. Following a significant cost reduction, especially if there were layoffs, there’s like to be distrust in a company’s management. Rebuilding that trust starts with taking care of people.

Take care of the victims

First, do your best to take care of the victims of the crisis, specifically employees who were laid off. Explain to them that layoffs were unavoidable. It won’t change anything, but they’ll feel better if they understand why they lost their job. You should also do everything you can to help these victims of the crisis get back on their feet. This can include giving them severance pay and additional health-care coverage. But it also means having recruiters help them find a new opportunity elsewhere.

Take care of the survivors

Next, you have to take care of the survivors, meaning the people who are still working at the company. As mentioned, they could be going through a mourning period because of the colleagues they lost during the crisis, which could make them distrustful of management. It’s important that they receive time to work through those feelings. At the same time, it’s critical to give your remaining workers specific instructions on what will be expected of them on a day-to-day basis because the company will no doubt look a lot different than it did before the crisis.

Take care of frontline managers

Taking care of frontline managers will also be important after the crisis. Be aware that these managers likely have fewer people around them than before the crisis but still have just as much work to accomplish. Find ways to help them through this transition period and adjust to their new reality.

Take care of recruiters

Finally, high-growth startups need to pay close attention to recruiters. These were the people who were helping the company to grow and they will continue to be vital in helping the company coming out of the crisis. Even if some were victims of the layoff during the crisis, find a way to take care of those who remain.

Support the community

The first part of creating positivity after the crisis is taking care of the people within the company. The second step is to then focus on the people outside the company. Coming out of a crisis, it’s important to create goodwill for your startup.

Discounted/ Free Resources

One of the best ways to do this is to offer discounts or free products and services. For example, rather than offering clients a 30-day risk-free trial of your product, extend the offer to 90 days, if not longer. You can also target your promotions specifically at customers most in need. First responders, educators, and many others have been hit particularly hard by the crisis. They might need your product and services but can’t afford to pay your normal rates. Offering free resources or discounts to these specific customers can be a great way to create goodwill.

Crisis Mitigation Resources

This can be particularly important if you have a product coming out of the crisis. For example, more companies have their employees working remotely. If you have a way to assist remote workers, now is the time to share your products at a reduced cost. If you have a core product that can help mitigate the crisis in any way, find a way to support the community at large.

Highlight Hope and Heroes

Following layoffs and other cost-reduction measures during the crisis, people are unlikely to respond positively to large, pie-in-the-sky visions. Instead, they want concrete information that reinforces that they are part of a good company that’s run by good people. You can accomplish this by highlighting your hope and heroes, which can create a positive buzz within your startup.

Little Pockets of Optimism

First, look for little pockets of optimism within your company. This could mean important clients that have increased their business with you or any other reason to think that your startup is in good shape and moving in the right direction. You can also highlight little pockets of optimism about society’s ability to mitigate the ongoing crisis. If there is good news about a potential vaccine, that can be a sign of hope you can highlight.

People Doing Every Day Work

Next, you’ll want to highlight the heroes within your company who come to work every day and keep things running. Perhaps you have an engineer that has kept a certain server running through the crisis. Highlighting someone who does important work but doesn’t typically receive a lot of praise can help to reinforce the belief that we’re all in this together and inspire others that the work they do matters.

Believe Some Things are Still Good

Ultimately, you need to make people believe that even after the crisis, the cost reductions, and the layoffs that some things are still good.

Refocus on Purpose

After you’ve started to create some positivity and regain trust, then you can return to the normal duties as a founder or CEO of a startup and refocus the purpose of the company. However, it’s important that you start small and remain focused on the core of the business. Any grand, pie-in-the-sky overtures can negate some of the positivity you’ve worked to create.

Peel Back the Success Markers

As you start to refocus your purpose, one of your first steps should be peeling back the success markers you had before the crisis. The world is different now, which means you can’t become preoccupied with the funds you raised or your evaluation before the crisis. Everything will be different in the post-crisis environment, so you have to adjust your view of everything.

Desired Impact on the World

Instead, focus on the kind of impact you hope to make on the world. Think back to the early days of your startup. How did you hope to have an impact on the world? Did you want to help people be more efficient? Did you want to inspire others? Before your focus was on your evaluation or an IPO, what made you start the company?

Inspire Emotional Inspiration

This is the time to dig deep to think about your purpose and why it was important to start this company. Thinking about this will create an emotional response, which is a good thing. Try to rediscover the motivation behind the company and share that motivation with the people still at the company. Help everyone around you understand why the mission is so important and the impact you think your startup can have on the world.

Spot the opportunities

If you can do this, you will start to inspire positive feelings and actions throughout your organization from top to bottom. You’ll also be on your way to surviving the current crisis and spotting new opportunities that will exist on the other side of this difficult time.

Crisis Team Tasks Template

To get started right away with bridging the crisis in your startup, go to crisis. We put together all resources there that we’ve mentioned in this video: The crisis action plan, a one page crisis bridging plan, other videos, and more.

It’s given me lots to think about and plenty of handy models to use as I scale up my company.

Ardie Worsley, Managing Director, Said Digital, London, UK