COVID-19 has shaped our everyday lives and businesses have had no choice but to take things week by week as the situation progresses. This crisis isn’t an easy one to navigate—let alone plan ahead for—so what can companies do to ride out this unpredictable time?
Innovation Saskatchewan recently spoke with Katherine Regnier from Coconut Software to see what advice she had for pivoting and adapting to make it through this pandemic:
“It’s isn’t about surviving the storm, it’s about surviving the storm AND giving yourself enough time to rebound.” Planning for the absolute worst-case scenarios and getting rid of assumptions should be a huge factor in your decision making. What will you do if you have no new revenue and a 20% churn? If you planned to raise x amount of money in 18 months, it might take three years now. You still need to be reaching those targets, but you have to give yourself more time to do so with a smaller team.
“You have to be thinking about your people, cashflow and runway.” For Coconut Software, that meant aggressively cutting their burn rate by 67%. Regardless of if you’re a startup or if you're a well-established company, you have to evaluate how you’re going to do more with less.
“Our roadmap moves fast. Sometimes we have to deliver product quicker than we planned.” Coconut Software had a lightweight video integration but with the COVID – 19 circumstances it created a mass urgency to elevate the portion of the Coconut offering. Certain ideas will need to be prioritized and more than not simplified to accommodate what’s in demand now—and you might be surprised by how quickly that can happen when all hands are on deck.
“Customers should be driving your product; everyone should be customer-centric. More now than ever.” Look at your negative net promoter scores (NPS) and find out what the top complaints are about. Can you address that now? Does it fall within your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? Will it add to your Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)?
“Stay in your lane and don’t follow the ‘shiny things.’” From executives at long-standing companies to startup founders, everyone needs to stay away from the distractions of serving existing customers. Avoid falling into over opportunity and ask: is this 'shiny' or will it be better for ALL of our customers. Coconut Software weighs risks by seeing if they check the boxes of digital customer engagement and workforce optimization. Is it a unique problem to one customer? Is it a product issue or a business issue? What is the ROI of delivering this solution? Is it going to move their KPI of annual recurring revenue? Another checkmark if it does.
“We just did a company survey, and what I found was that when people have too much work and are barely keeping up, they rank themselves lower on their performance.” When you cut back and focus on what’s important now, people will feel more accomplished. Plan your customers' goals and reprioritize your roadmap with the team you have now.
“Denial is so real right now.” This isn’t going to be over right away, and once the dust settles, you’ll need resources to rebound. You’ve probably read about iconic companies that were started in a recession, but be realistic and open your eyes to false optimism. So yes—you should be cutting back even if you think you have enough cash runway to ride this out.
The bottom line is that it’s time to step into wartime CEO mode: you’ve got to make those really hard calls to save the troops. Decisions need to be made quickly, and you have to dial into the data and numbers. Do everything that you can to show your people that you care about them in this unprecedented time, keep your customers top of mind with every development, and remain focused.
Good luck, take care and stay safe.