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We are deeply affected by COVID-19; people close to us have lost their jobs, become sick, and even lost their fight against the coronavirus. But businesses, especially startups, must keep pushing through so that we can serve our customers, employ our teams, and keep working towards our vision to improve the way the world works. At Visor, we’re open to hiring conversations.
If you had ever considered joining an early-stage startup, now may actually be the best time to join a company equipped to be successful in this new age. Beneath the uncertainty and pain, crises like the current one are actually opportunities for certain types of young companies, not just the ones selling products that are flying off the shelves.
During times like this, many companies will make critical mistakes in their haste to adapt. Thought leaders are compelling entrepreneurial teams to act quickly and decisively. This is good advice, but it’s hard to act quickly when your company was built on the assumption of abundant resources and that strategy no longer works. Companies across the ecosystem are massively pulling back: laying off people, pruning software licenses, trimming marketing budgets, and preparing to hibernate through the economic winter. But not all decisions right now are being made wisely. Many companies are making mistakes that will one day look like rushing to Walmart to panic-buy a cart full of Charmin but forgetting Campbells.
This leaves many of our competitors, especially larger organizations, vulnerable in the months to come. Startup life is a constant war against better-equipped challengers, and when every one of them is in a race to disarm themselves the fastest, it creates rare opportunities for startups like us who were already doing more with less.
This is our time to thrive by continuing to be scrappy. Unlike our competitors who needed to take a sledgehammer to their businesses, we made small cuts with a scalpel. We found some savings on subscriptions and office space we can’t safely use, but we didn't have much to change when we already were spending every dollar like it was our last. Who would have a better chance to win a skirmish without armor, a massive Roman phalanx who was trained to depend on expensive armor, or a small group of wiley Guals who had trained without armor all along?
It’s also becoming easier to do more with less, which will disproportionately benefit smaller companies like us. Now that I can defer my student loan payments without interest, I can take even less salary than the minimum I was already taking to stay afloat. On a team of 5, that’s a huge impact. Many of our vendors are willing to negotiate with discounts and favorable payment terms that would have been unthinkable weeks before. We’re pursuing newly available federal funds that will strengthen our balance sheet. Lastly, brilliant and scrappy candidates are exploring their options, and companies like ours are ready to welcome them.
As marketing budgets contract, we have more of an opportunity to break through the noise. When everyone else is flush with cash and prioritizing growth over profitability, those of us who are more conservative will find it harder to tell our story. Bubbly economic conditions incentivize a game of “chicken” around rising customer acquisition costs. More sobering times force everyone to pump the brakes and reset. As recovery progresses, agile startups will have the upper hand. A close friend of mine with a self-care company has seen stronger-than-average performance on their newest content, as some of their normal competitors have gone quiet.
Products like ours, designed for remote collaboration, will power the new economy. For the indefinite future, teams can no longer rely on whiteboard sessions and serendipitous conversations to maintain alignment. The best practice right now is to over-communicate and “write it down” in whatever format makes the most sense. Tools like Visor are especially valuable, because customers use Visor to refine and communicate plans and priorities that keep remote teams accountable and aware.
When corporate decision-making slows down, products like ours that rely on a bottoms-up adoption will more quickly fill gaps. Top performers always find a way, even when they can’t get the resources they need from their existing team and tools. Products that rely on sales calls and contracts are going to have a much harder time getting through. Some products lurking with high contract values and low usage are prime candidates for cutbacks. On the other hand, products that prioritize self-service like Visor will be the best equipped to fill these gaps. Individual users can make their own decisions. And Visor’s cost can easily be applied to a credit card.
Sequoia’s now infamous “R.I.P. Good Times” presentation implied that the times before a crisis were “good times.” Companies could raise virtually unlimited cash, so the winners were the companies who spent the most. They could hoard industry talent by offering lavish compensation packages, often giving talented people responsibilities far below their potential. It was trendy to ignore business fundamentals in favor of growth at any cost. For an entrepreneur focused on building a long-lasting business with strong fundamentals, I wasn’t eager to play that game. All of these “good times” others were having only made it harder to build a real business.
If these past years were the good times, then I say “good riddance” to overabundance, waste, and bad business models. It’s time to refocus on building quality businesses, growing thoughtfully, and deeply caring about our impact on our customers, our colleagues, and our community. If you’ve recently found yourself looking for a new, exciting, and challenging opportunity, then we should chat about your potential future with Visor.
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