On Wednesday, April 15, 2020, Razor Suleman, founder of Elevate and Achievers, interviewed Silicon Valley legend Guy Kawasaki, who shared his insights for entrepreneurs into how to survive the Covid-19 crisis. He is the chief evangelist of Canva and held the same title with Apple in its early days. He has written 15 books, including my personal favourite, The Art of the Start, which I have read and reread many times.
You should really listen to the entire interview, but I thought that I would share his top 10 list for surviving during this crisis:
- Run the right race – The current situation requires taking a long term approach. Digging out of the current crisis will be more of a marathon or decathlon than a sprint. Focus your thinking and strategic planning accordingly.
- Focus on cash – Make your cash last as long as possible. You will need as long a runway as possible. Under these circumstances, preserving cash is even more important than your brand. Survival is everything and cash is king!
- Take control of your distribution – One of the biggest challenges that the crisis has caused has been the disruption in delivery systems. Amazon used to be a great way to get your products to your customer. Now, it has become unreliable, except for certain items. Being dependent on others for your distribution has become a huge weakness for any business.
- Milk your installed base – Under the current environment it might be difficult for some businesses to attract new customers. Your best bet it to focus on your existing customers. Selling to people with whom you have an existing relationship will be the easiest.
- Cut deeper than you think you need to cut – Err on the side of caution. This is not the time for half measures. Be extremely conservative when running your numbers and making cuts. Survival should be your only consideration.
- Be transparent with people – It is a good practice in normal times to be transparent with your stakeholders. This is especially true in times of crisis. Get the bad news out of the way as soon as possible. Everyone is giving and hearing bad news these days. Your problems will get lost in the noise.
- Use stock options – Use stock options to attract and retain the people you need for survival. It is a form of compensation that preserves your cash.
- Re-evaluate the supply chain – Just like No. 3 with respect to distribution, it is imperative that you take control of your supply chain. Expect to see a movement towards domestic manufacturing.
- Therefore what? – What are the opportunities that this crisis is creating. Can you pivot to take advantage of the opportunities and away from businesses that might be no longer relevant?
- Now is the time to do the stuff you never had time for – To the extent that you have time on your hands, use it to put the policies and procedures into place that you have been meaning to do when you had some extra time. Do strategic planning. Rerun your numbers and then run them again with even more conservative assumptions.
- Bonus! Now is the time to learn new skills – Similar to No. 10, use any extra time to learn new skills, particular ones that will be most valuable as you move forward. As you downsize your workforce, this is also a good opportunity for your people to diversify their skills. Some people will be able to grow into expanded roles. Others may be able to multi-task.
My take away from Guy’s presentation is that it is all about survival. Think of your business as a startup again. Pivot towards solving the problems of this new business environment. In most cases, companies are going to have to rethink their whole business. As usual, Guy gave very valuable advice at a critical time. Check out the video.