One year ago, UVC published the first volume of the Upstate Founders Playbook, a compilation of stories and lessons learned from thirteen amazing entrepreneurs. Just a year later, we are all living in a world none of us could have foreseen. So we went back to these founders and asked what they are doing to manage in this times and the advice they have for other entrepreneurs. In these short missives, you will see how these founders are managing to stay focused, yet flexible, while recognizing that extraordinary challenges often bring extraordinary opportunities with them. –Jennifer Sertl
By Alex Zapesochny, CEO of Clerio Vision
These are unprecedented times, but the rules of entrepreneurship have not changed. If your business or idea is directly impacted by new guidelines or changes in consumer behavior that are likely to last for a while, then you should strongly and deeply consider whether you need to substantially pivot your model or even temporarily discontinue your efforts in order to preserve cash and your future options as an entrepreneur.
I know it is not easy to change or put on hold a pursuit to which you have dedicated so much of yourself. There is something in the mythology of entrepreneurship that encourages entrepreneurs to push forward no matter what outside circumstances might be signaling. But the reality – to paraphrase the Greek poet, Hesiod – is that “right timing is in all things the most important factor.”
Yet if your business or startup idea is not directly impacted by the changes created by COVID-19, then this continues to be a great time – and a great region – to pursue the growth of your business. In fact, times of significant change and uncertainty are often particularly good times to build a business. As a startup, you can be more nimble, more customer-centric and more cost effective than your larger, plodding competitors. This is the time to delight your customers with your speed and flexibility, even if you haven’t yet figured out how to profitably scale these kinds of efforts in the future.
Additionally, this is a good time to hire talented teammates and to approach partners, resellers and distributors that may be more open to trying out your product or service given the disruptions they are experiencing in their own businesses.
Most importantly, during this extraordinary time, continue to remember that it is the “ordinary” that wins. Here are some fundamentals:
- Have a product or service that truly brings value to those that use it
- Gather a cohesive team that executes effectively and consistently
- Make sure you have the margins/economics that allow your business to keep getting better as it grows
We are right there with you looking at the landscape and making hard decisions.
If you want to learn more about Alex Zapesochny’s leadership you can read more in the Upstate Founder Playbook.