COVID-19 entrepreneurship: the crisis plan

COVID-19 entrepreneurship: the crisis plan

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To say that we are facing an unusual situation would undermine the magnitude of the phenomenon that conquered every corner of the planet.

Economic crises have happened before and will happen again, but it is for the first time in the last hundred years that the enemy is invisible and affects the global economy as a whole – without discriminating between business sectors, levels of economic-social development, or geographical positioning.

We are facing fear, anxiety, panic, and, like in any extreme situation, the very essence of our being is put to the test: fight or flight? We can relate to this axiom on a personal level, where each of us manages their stress responses as good as they can, and also on a business level, where the actions of the companies are modeled by the spirit of the entrepreneur behind them. 

I’m fully confident that survival and well-being are reserved not only for the most prepared but also for the most adaptable individual.

Current state of affairs

In just three weeks, no less than 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment, according to the New York Times. The signal is clear for entrepreneurs around the world, even if not all countries provide the necessary statistics: the economic crisis is here for sure, with decline estimates varying from a few percentage points to as much as 15-20%, according to expert estimates.

Based on reports of newly registered unemployment claims in the US, some pundits have been anxiously stating that the $2 trillion (thousands of billions) state aid measures announced by Donald Trump will not have the expected effect. History will show us who’s right and who’s wrong.But, as a starting point, this incentive package has provided a period of relative stability for the stock exchanges, and in some cases, even a slight recovery for indices.

The bailout package devised by the FED (and most governments/central banks of the world) will not help the economy stay afloat forever. Fortunately, this is not the intended response. Its purpose is to encourage individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses to wake up from their slumber and fight for survival. Without any supportive reactions from the private sector, it won’t matter how much money the central banks print; the economy will still collapse eventually.

That is why it is absolutely essential that the economy – which is not an entity with a volatile form, but structured on businesses of all levels – will realize that the only desired direction is upwards. 

Action plan

Ever since I took my first steps in entrepreneurship, I focused on building a healthy, sustainable, anabolic type of business that can be developed and scaled, regardless of how the wind of change blows – nationally, regionally, and globally.

A critical factor in this philosophy was the “work-from-home concept”, which, until a few weeks ago, was only seen as a “treat” reserved for the select few. Well, for the companies in my group, the employee activity carries on as usual, I’m even noticing an increase in productivity – with 99% of my staff working from home for over a month!

As for any top-performance analysis, the structure behind is much more important than the conclusion: I’m here now because I emphasized from the start significant investments in what I believe is the backbone of a fintech business: the IT department. Only thanks to an IT department that works flawlessly we’re able to talk about digitalization, digital transformation, cloud-businesses, increased autonomy, and increased immune response to any economic storm that may come our way. 

What I did

It is not my intention to deliver a crisis-response manual or to make an exhaustive list; I just want to detail some of the decisions I already took or will be taking in the following period:

1. Specific budgeting
No containing measure or reaction in this world, no matter how revolutionary and daring, will succeed unless it’s supported by money. Cash flow is king! Analyzing, sorting, and transforming the fixed and floating cash-flows are essential processes in times of crisis.

2. Infrastructure
I mentioned earlier that the IT department is the backbone of my business. I’ve set this mindset since 2018, a build-up year, and I enforced everything in 2019, not in anticipation of a crisis (which actually happened), but because this is the ideal flow for my business. 

Internal communication, advanced reporting services, tracking specific KPIs, analyzing business data, building a complete ecosystem that includes the entire business, cloud services, business intelligence, and the list can go on. All of these are just cogwheels which work in sync only when well-oiled by a cohesive and sound IT department. Infrastructure is key during this period of crisis. 😊

3. Empowering
Key people now have the chance to benefit from all this and gain even more power and influence in my organization, when face-to-face communication is no longer an option. I’ve always been humble enough to surround myself with people who challenge me, people with a strong personality, and decision-making power – now is their time to shine and prove to me, once again, that the power of my business is in their hands.

4. Flows and procedures
Setting goals and pursuing them is no longer a novelty for any business of high standards. I have implemented a fixed schedule for evaluation, preparation, and goal-setting meetings that can be easily tracked. Every Monday, I surround myself (virtually, for now) with my top management to prepare and start-off the week, and each Friday finds us in a video session to conclude and evaluate the past five days of activity.

5. Reporting
Thanks to the IT systems mentioned before, it’s elementary for me to track the group’s reporting activity, starting from macro to micro objectives – where the situation requires it.

6. Financial motivation
I have built a meritocratic culture around me; with one hand, I reward those who perform well, and with the other, I track, identify, and analyze the environments and the people who aren’t at their best yet. I believe in the people around me, which is why I invest the time and resources needed to listen and help those who need a boost – experience has shown me that some diamonds need to be polished more before they start shining.

7. Preparing the return to the office
In small but firm steps, our activity will be returning to normal. I have invested, and I’ll still be investing in the safety of my colleagues: I’ve acquired medical and protective equipment (masks, gloves, sanitizers…), we’re prepared to install a disinfection tunnel, all in order to be able to gradually start resuming our activity. I forecast that in a few months – although nothing will be the same in the post-Coronavirus era – the activity of my group will be resumed.

Conclusion 

A crisis is an opportunity for reflection, development, and adaptation. There are still many things to improve; there are threats that have not yet made their presence felt, but, based on the above organizational structure, I am fully confident that the Coronavirus crisis era will be a huge opportunity for Key Way Group and myself. We have the right tools and attitude to take this chance and use it to evolve and progress!

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