We are experiencing an unprecedented time in history. The state of the world is changing on a daily basis, and no one can say with certainty where we’re going to be next month, let alone what you should be doing to move your startup business forward.
As a startup marketer and small business founder, I have been observing the situation closely and listening to my clients, fellow marketers, and industry leaders, to work to stay on top of trends and best practices.
Here are 7 things I’ve noticed my clients and startup businesses doing to navigate these uncertain times:
1. Startups are taking the time to do the things they’ve been putting off for a while.
My startup clients are finally getting to the things they’ve been putting off for months. I’ve observed an increase in content writing, as it’s something that can easily be done from home, and with access to people at home and online, it’s a great time to do it. Startups have the ability to capitalize on active eyes and ears for conversations they’ve wanted to hold and messages they’ve wanted to share.
For example, many founders are now putting on online events or webinars. For startups that have been wanting to host events, an online format is a quick & easy way to get speakers and audience members in the same (virtual) room. What’s more, there’s increased attendance as people can join from all over the world, and it doesn’t take as much time, money, and effort as an in-person event. This is a big opportunity for startups to communicate, improve brand awareness, and get in front of customers (new and existing).
2. Startups are creating remote processes (and appreciating remote workers ).
One way my clients have improved operations during stay at home precautions is by taking the time to create remote processes. Because my company, Pericus Ventures, works with businesses across the country, I’m grateful that my clients are improving their operations on remote software tools like Slack, Asana, and Zoom.
When everyone is remote, all workers are valued and included, and I see improvements in getting all team members on the same page, sharing knowledge, as well as overall communication. I’ve even had clients note that getting these remote processes ironed out has streamlined overall operations, as employees can’t just go tap someone on the shoulder when they need something (leaving a lot of folks in the dark). Instead, everyone is easily getting access to resources and information.
3. Startups are pivoting more often and acting even faster.
In the quarantine world, I’ve received a number of messages like, “We’re building out this software in the next 48 hours! We need to get a marketing strategy down to reach new customers,” or “We want to write this article on our COVID-19 response by the end of the week!” Last-minute changes and pivots are not new to the startup world, but I’m noticing a lot more of them, and a lot faster turnaround times.
News, government response, and the state of the world are changing on a day-by-day basis, and startups are at the ready. For example, one of my fintech clients took a week to digitize a new government loan after receiving requests to do so from their customers. They’re quick thinking and fast turnaround allowed them to be first to market and offer something none of their competitors are doing.
My startup clients are used to innovating and pivoting, and this rapidly changing landscape is putting those skills to good use.
4. Startups are getting even more creative.
As a result of businesses having to act quickly, I’ve also seen an increase in creativity. There’s no operational playbook for how to conduct business during a pandemic, and as a result, I’m noticing an increase in innovation and willingness to try new things.
I had one health tech client who worked to get out a new product in response to the coronavirus, then regulations changed and it was no longer a viable option. The next week, they had already pivoted to developing a different service to address a related concern that had risen over the weekend.
Because startups are looking for ways to make a difference right now, they’re not thinking about the things that are going to get them investment or move the bottom line, they’re thinking about things that are going to help businesses and individuals in need. The result is an increase in out-of-the-box thinking and a surge in innovation.
5. Startups are pooling resources to collaborate.
Because of increased innovation and quick pivoting, another trend I’m observing is that startups are needing to increase partnerships and collaborations with others to get things done in record time. Whether it’s working in partnership with another company to rapidly deploy a new service, or bringing in thought leaders to hold an online event, my startup clients are using their resources and their connections to produce results.
When we work together, we can build faster and convey information more quickly. I had one client who was getting questions from their customers on how to take advantage of new programs supporting small businesses. They reached out to a government contact and set up a Facebook Live Q&A to get their questions answered at scale. Another company I work with is doing a similar “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” with investors to help startups navigate fundraising during this unprecedented economic downturn.
Not only are startup companies benefiting from their connections, but by collaborating with others, customers are able to gain access to the best services, resources, and information available.
6. Startups are giving.
Across the business world, companies are finding ways to discount or donate products and services to help mitigate the hardships and stresses of this unprecedented time. And it’s not just billion dollar corporations who are stepping up, companies of all sizes are looking for ways to help out, and that includes early stage startups.
I had one B2B SaaS client offer their business software completely free of charge to help other small businesses adopt a digital solution when their brick and mortar operations closed down. Other clients have discounted their services or deferred payments to assist those hit economically right now.
Across industries and verticals companies are doing what they can to be of service.
Internet businesses might feel grateful they are able to keep up operations, but who’s to say, down the road we won’t find ourselves in the same place as our fellow business owners with a physical store? We’re all in this together and our communities are coming together to carry the weight of this economic burden.
7. Startups are prioritizing their employees’ mental health.
A final trend resonating is self-care. Yes, things are moving at warp speed and stresses are high, but businesses and business owners are also respecting their worker’s health and wellbeing. Getting our community healthy again is more important than anything else right now, as made evident by stay-at-home policies. And even more than that, I find everyone really asking, “how are you doing?,” then taking the time to sincerely listen. It’s been wonderful to catch up with old friends or talk to clients more frequently, because we finally have the time to do so, and we’re genuinely concerned for the people in our community.
There’s also sympathy for one’s mental health. It’s OK to take a walk during the middle of the day. It’s OK to turn off at 5pm and spend time with your kids. It’s OK to get started a little later in the day to try out that breakfast quiche recipe. We’re all coming face-to-face with what’s most important right now.
Looking on the bright side of a difficult time, the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to take a step back, do the things we’ve been meaning to do, take risks, help others, and most importantly, take care of ourselves and our community. I love working with startup founders because their ability to ride the highs and lows inspires me every day. It’s incredible to watch how they’re stepping up in this tough economic time and a privilege to help support their efforts.
And now I’m curious, what are some startup trends you’re seeing during this new time? I would love to hear in the comments below!