This is an incredibly tough time to a lot of founders. The VC markets have contracted almost overnight and last round’s valuations may no longer hold. Many founders have hard choices to make, and face big consequences to the macro trends like inflation, reduce spending, increased interest rates etc. There are no easy solutions but there are things you can do to better cope with the current situation. In May 2022, I published a post on ‘advice for startups in a downturn‘ which is more business oriented advice aggregated from the top pundits. In this post I focus more on what founders can do on an individual level to be more effective leaders during this challenging market environment.
1. Keep the lines open
I see founders that stopped sending investor updates. That’s rarely a good strategy. Your investors (at least the good ones) don’t only expect things to go up always. Investors can be a resource and can be activated. Keep the lines of communication open!
2. Focus on what you can change
In many cases that means execution. You can’t change the market, but you can change how you respond to it – is it time to test a change in business model? are you focusing on your customers? Can you strengthen your clients trust and upsell?
I like the Jeff Bezos’ filter on what decisions that are consequential and irreversible.
3. Don’t burn out
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Obama shared that he reduces the number of decisions he has to make in a given day by outsourcing to his team (what to eat, wear, meet), because decision making power is finite. How does that apply to you?
I’m not suggesting that meditation is a must or right for everyone. Find your own (ideally healthy) way to reduce stress and burnout.
4. Stay Healthy
Stress has a huge impact on sleep and in turn on our immune systems. It produces cortisol and negatively affect our body’s performance. Stay healthy. Go for a walk, drink plenty of water, keep a healthy diet and take short brakes. Your performance will thank you!
There are great new apps to help us with nutrition, mental health, workouts… it’s worth to try them out. Most importantly – if you seek medical help, go and get it. Don’t wait for things to become urgent.
5. Develop a growth mindset
I consume a lot of content, which sometimes stresses me out. When you keep hearing bad news, your mind thinks that’s all there is. But try to put things in context and find reasons to be optimistic. Take action, don’t be delusional, and stay positive!
It’s easier said than done, but try it out. Here’s a post I wrote on 3 reasons to stay positive despite the market.
If this helps even one person out there, it was worth it! Good luck.