If start-ups and freelance are seen as chilled-type professions, workers in the field can undoubtedly say and prove otherwise.
Although this video shows a startup’s daily life in a humorous way, there are times where the situation becomes tough. Indeed, startups do have to face tough competition, and impose themselves as market leaders starting with almost nothing. Startups have to innovate and learn to keep and increase the demand for their products and services and brand.
Working in a startup does not mean the company will only keep expanding. It does not mean that one found a revolutionizing idea, and its implementation is automatic. Indeed, not all startups are like Über or Airbnb and not all tech companies are like Facebook or Apple. In fact, nine out of ten startups fail.
As Neil Patel explained two years ago: “Very optimistic entrepreneur needs a dose of reality now and then. Cold statistics like these are not intended to discourage entrepreneurs, but to encourage them to work smarter and harder.”
That in mind, how can a CEO or startup leader do when facing tough times? Here are a couple ideas to help one solve the matter.
Take time to reflect on your situation
Although the situation seems to be an emergency, do not rush into the first exit door. Take your time to implement these different steps.
Evaluate present situation
Take some time to list your resources, debt, and priorities. Write them out in order to make them clear and straightforward.
Be in a positive dynamic
Even when everything seems to break, you have to stay cold-headed. Remember, you have rationally listed what was important and should be tackled first.
Now, step by step, elaborate strategies in order to tackle each of these priorities. Figure out the possible outcomes, the possible cuts, and the possible payments. Do not over-think the smaller issues. Focus the big ones and take action asap.
Surround yourself with the right people
As unfair as it might appear, facing a professional crisis is a natural process. There are times where it will be professionally tough; other times, it will be personally difficult. Try to avoid having everything on fire at the same time, by surrounding yourself with the right people.
The right people have these three characteristics set in stone:
- They love you and want the best for you
- They are good listeners
- They are ready to emotionally support you
They may know nothing about your job, and have no idea how hard it is to manage a team; yet they know you, and are ready to care for you during these tough times. Do not neglect them by being apathetic, cold, and distant. Your professional issues are not enough of a reason to yell at your loved ones, or be unpleasant to the people around you.
Explore what you do different
Sometimes, during difficult periods, the company manager cannot contempt him or herself with transient solutions. In situations where it is noticeable that the company cannot make it anymore, the leaders have to rethink the whole core and purpose of the company. Failing to recognize patterns, and refusing to question the company’s aim and reason to be will inevitably lead to bankruptcy.
In order to prevent the worse-case-scenarios from happening, one needs to list out:
- The main assets the company has (tangible or intangible)
- The value they add, and how do customers and clients value the brand and company
If these features are strong enough, the startup is only probably victim of market shifts. However, the demand is still there, and a couple innovative undertakings will help the business to get back on track.
Unfortunately, it often happens that for various reasons the startup does not fit in the market anymore. It is important – if not essential – to acknowledge this and learn to let go when it is over.
Failing once does not mean failing forever. It means giving yourself the opportunity to start something new, probably more worthy than your previous achievements.
Innovate in that idea
This part of the process is the longest and toughest; yet, it is the most important of all.
Once you have determined your assets and your needs, you can start innovating in your field (or in another), in order to compensate and overcome your previous losses.
It is a hit-or-miss situation; yet the risk is to be taken. You have to invest money you cannot physically provide in order to create the money that will allow you to make up for your losses and previous investments. Thus, why this situation is the toughest. You have to brainstorm a lot and provide for contingencies.
As a general rule: the more you risk, the more you put at stake… and the more you can win.
Make sure to take your time
In order to efficiently face the startup environment, one must learn to react to urgent situations. However on the long-term, one should not only react when the emergencies are already there. Indeed, learning to prevent as many issues from happening as possible is the key to lasting success.
When facing troublesome times, CEOs and managers should immediately start reflecting about their assets, needs, and opportunities. SWOT analyses are extremely helpful in that sense and allow one to broaden his or her perspectives.
Do not hesitate to communicate and open up to the people around you. The last decision is yours; however, asking for an external opinion can sometimes help one to refresh his or her ideas regarding the matter.
Be optimistic, but not unrealistic. Keep lucidity. Also, keep in mind that the process might take longer than you expected.
Give your business, company, and workers time for change to operate as not everything can be done overnight. Let yourself relapse too, and learn to trust the process.