Startup Survival While in Lockdown
Business in crisis
Covid19 certainly has brought society to a halt. Here are some practical steps and resources to help you.
With uncertainty and potential job losses it’s natural to start to panic when you see bills coming in.
We’re all human and have responsibilities – firstly give yourself a break. Deep breaths and with a cool head begin to have a look at where you can cut your costs. We can forget how many unnecessary services we have signed up to that we don’t need and all the while they are helping themselves to our hard earned cash.
There are also a lot of companies offering free resources at this time, I’ve added some links at the bottom.
When it comes to finances it is also a great idea to plan for emergencies. Not everyone has the luxury of putting cash aside, but if you can, it certainly is a good idea to have an emergency fund to weather a storm. Think of it as a safety cushion that you absolutely do not lean on under any circumstances unless it’s an absolute emergency, (so no ‘borrowing’ from this kitty with a promise to pay it back). You’ll be thankful for policing yourself when you really do need the cash.
Now that we have addressed the critical part of this crisis, let’s have a look at other important aspects, namely, how the mind can impact our emotional and mental state.
With the endless news cycles of the doom and gloom of economic collapse, it is quite normal for this constant negativity to have an impact on our mental health.
But did you know that the negative thought process is more powerful than positive?
A recent Harvard study discusses how negative thinking is 4-7 times more powerful than positive thinking.
In addition, when you affirm things out aloud, it’s 10 times more powerful than if you just think about it.
So when you go around telling everyone how worried you are not only are you spreading emotional negativity, but also saying it out aloud, these two actions combined are highly impactful. You are 40-70 times more likely to see these things manifest in your life.
The only aspects of life we should be concerned with are the things that we can control. Everything else will just create anxiety with no solution in sight, which is a bad place to be. It’s a slippery slope to despair and will take its toll on your mental health.
But with reality around you falling apart, you can’t help an eye roll at positivity preaching life coaches. Positive thinking does seem like reality denial when people are worried, struggling to make ends meet with a loss of earnings and others may be sick.
So let’s not think positively, let’s think optimistically.
“Optimism is not the denial of reality, and not naive either. Thinking positively is saying things are good even when they are not. However optimism accepts the truth of reality and looks forward to a brighter future. Optimism is the foundation of hope. And hope keeps us moving forward. There is a light at the end of this tunnel and we will get there…together.” – Simon Sinek
Just as we are keeping ourselves safe with social distancing, it is also important to keep our minds safe by guarding what enters our minds and ‘social distance’ ourselves from toxic thinking. What you allow yourself to dwell on will eventually manifest in your life in some form. So treat your mind like a fortress – only what can help you develop should you allow in, anything else gets turned away at the gates.
THRIVE, DON'T JUST SURVIVE
With a healthy mindset, we can now begin to look at our actions during lockdown. The best way to use these times is to focus on something you enjoy so you can be productive. If you do nothing you will be bored and that will not help your mood. Here are 5 actionable tips from life coach, Richard Grannon, to get you going.
1. Progress – The human mind thrives on progress. We HAVE to have progress. If we don’t we feel like we are not moving forward, gaining, expanding, learning, on an upwards curve, we get anxious and ultimately depressed. Work on things you would not normally have time to do. It may be connecting with your spiritual side, spring cleaning, gardening, fitness, building a friendship/relationship you never had time for. Set your intent, write down your objectives and make them time sensitive.
2. Structure – You MUST have structure. Write down your goals and intentions. It would be a terrible mistake to see this as time off or a vacation. Nobody takes a vacation in their house. See it instead as a period of time where you have space. Gaming, Zoom, social media, Netflix are all doing really well as people look for avenues to ‘kill time’. Why would you want to kill it? Why not use it? Time is the most precious resource you have. Once it’s gone you don’t get it back, (unlike money that you can replenish). Put structure in your day and to the weeks coming. Create a structure that’s 30-40 days long, make your commitments and stick to it.
3. Discipline – It’s easy to want to live on low impulse control and do whatever we feel like. But we have to actually have to engage with this new reality with discipline. It will push you outside of your comfort zone. People who choose to live with low impulse control, their path is laden with temptation and traps that can be really damaging to your mental health over time. By stacking up serotonin and dopamine while we look for that instant gratification, it can lead to dopamine addiction – over use of tech/video games/Netflix. We should stay clear of short term highs. We are looking to offset pleasure by committing in the long term for something that’s only going to pay off further down the road. Ensure you are prepared to live with a structure and with a degree of discipline.
4. Learn – Let it be a period of time where you commit to learning. Is there something you’ve always wanted to study that you never had time to do before? This is the perfect opportunity. It may be learning a new skillset, progressing or setting up a business, committing to a course or reading that book you’ve been meaning to get around to. It’s a good time to make progress within your brain. Use this time properly and actually start learning.
5. Connect/accountability feedback – It’s a great time to connect with people. If you are going to live in a certain structure, set your intent to achieve things you want, then it’s a good idea to have people to do that with, to make yourself accountable to each other. A 30 day period of time is a long enough time to commit to doing something everyday for you to make genuine, lasting and authentic changes in your life.
Whether you are on your own or in lockdown in a family unit, everybody needs to do this. One person should take the lead and assign sections of the day for different activities, be that studying, computer games or exercise.
Everyone needs to be committed to some sort of progress. Structure it – once you have a goal setting sheet create a timetable for the day. Then insist everyone sticks to it with discipline. Learning something new, whether it’s a song or poem or anything else is vital for the human body. When it comes to the human body if you don’t use it you lose it. Keep that neuroplasticity going by learning, growing and moving forward. When you learn something new your self esteem goes up, your anxiety comes down and you feel better. And finally connect with each other to keep each other accountable. Give each other feedback, “I enjoy doing this, I don’t enjoy doing that, is there an easier way to get this done?, let’s work together to make this happen and be accountable to each other”.
Now switching our focus to business, with an optimistic outlook we can begin to see possibilities in the new reality we are faced with.
So is it truly the end of small businesses and startups? Sometimes the best way to predict the future is to look at the past for clues. Has a recession happened before? If so, how did startups fare last time?
You may be surprised to learn that some of the best and most successful startups were formed in the last recession, Uber, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Slack, Airbnb to name but a few.
And it is happening again. There are many new startups being set up in this very crisis.
With each new reality comes a new set of challenges. Some of the greatest inventions were created by solving problems that people were facing. Have a look at how your skills and services may be able to bridge the gap between problem and solution.
Let these new startups be a source of inspiration and motivation.
Knowing new startups are being born is a great source of hope in these uncertain times. But there is of course more to the ‘recipe of success’ than just being a startup caught up in recession conditions. You want to thrive not merely survive. A plan of action seems like a more intentional approach to success.
Normally business owners are too busy with their day to day to take the time out and do the strategic thinking and planning all businesses thrive from. However being in lockdown may be the perfect time for you to take a hard look at your business in a holistic way.
When it comes to branding, following a strategic process will set you up for success. It is the strategy of branding that makes some of the most successful companies stand out. And standing out is imperative now more than ever when customers are reassessing brands. Only those that stand out will survive, the rest will be forgotten.
The secret is that brand strategy is the type of investment that aligns with your business goals, and not just a costly visual exercise. This way you can ensure the visuals work for your business and are not separate from it. By taking time to think through how you can use the ‘emotional engineering’ that branding provides – to create the desired feelings or impression in your customers – can you drive your company forward.
It has come to be expected for businesses to rethink and realign their brand strategy when there are any market changes. Unfortunately the Covid19 situation is no different. Reacting to these shifts in the market and adapting may be the difference in your survival.
As a branding studio we would advise to utilise this time in lockdown to assess your brand’s strengths and weaknesses and adapting to the new situation. The brands that stand out will be the ones that take positions of leadership in a crisis. The way a brand behaves will win hearts and make them memorable when the storm subsides.
Brand strategy takes time to take effect, but when it does the results can be profound and the growth in your business too!
Let’s take a look at growth in its literal sense for a moment. I read a recent interesting post about bamboo shoots…
“You will see nothing of this tree for 5 years. Nothing happens in the first 4 years… You have to water and care for that seed all those years, seeing little results from your labour. That is, until the fifth year. In the fifth year, the seed breaks through the soil and begins to grow into a tree. And grow, it does. 3 feet a day, almost 90 feet in about a month. Did it grow 90ft in a month or 5 years? People plant these trees for long term results. But imagine if the farmer wanted it all now.”
This is how we must view brand strategy, it is a slow burn with lots of effort at the start, but just like the bamboo shoot, when the results come in, your company will flourish and grow. So take the time now to sow the seeds and look forward to celebrating your harvest in the future.
With all this goal setting around business or other projects it may seem like we have no time for family even though we are at home. But there is no reason why some of those goals can’t be quality time spent with family, afterall we all need a break from the hustle.
Defining your goals in a measurable way will ensure you make the most of the time and that it really is quality. Again coming from an intentional approach, you may want to partner up with your 10yr old and learn a new language, or bring daily fitness into your lives with a refreshing run.
It’s just as valuable to spend time with family. Bake cakes with your kids, build relationships and memories. Think of it this way, this much time with family may not happen again.
Whether you take this time to build yourself or your business, having goals and clear a strategy to make the most of your time, will greatly benefit your mental health and also give you a sense of accomplishment, when you are done.
They say it takes 30 days to form habits, so how can you train yourself everyday to make the most of your time? What habits will you get yourself into to reach your goals?
If you utilise the next few months you could achieve things you never thought you could. Great companies and people are made in times like these.
There is a gift in this – find the gift, unlock the treasure! – Mahmood Mawjee
Here are a few examples of some fantastic resources from around the web.
Firstly here at Muneebah Creative we are helping businesses evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your brand. Get in touch to book your FREE brand audit consultation with us.
• How to adjust your brand voice to communicate in these sensitive times, with a guide from Ogilvy.
• Free startup resource from Startup Commons.
• Free sessions at Uhubs for startups.
• Free online courses from Harvard University
• Government financial support
Also petitions you can sign to appeal to the government to invest in startups:
Plus 5 FREE tickets up for grabs!