Winston Churchill said, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’ - and the man would know! While the news is filled with gloom and we recognize that we’re coming down from a very high high, we see the upside of the current situation. Over the past few months, many great leaders have found opportunities amidst the chaos and crisis. We hope these tips will inspire you to inject some of this into your work as well.
For our business and across tech, the last few years were focused on growth and harvesting the seeds we had been planting for years. This spring can be seen as an overdue season to refocus on sowing seeds, sharpening tools, and taking stock of our resources and our strengths. Hyper-growth is exciting but usually unsustainable. It can strain our health, our systems and relationships, and the foundations of many businesses. It’s not easy to find silver linings with news of a crisis in the news every day, but tech entrepreneurs are great at turning problems into opportunities. You don’t have to look. far to find savvy leaders making smart moves that will pay off as the seasons change.
Here are 5 ways to turn a crisis into an opportunity:
1. Staff Development
If you have a high-performing team that is not at capacity with near-term projects or revenue generation, layoffs may seem like the only wise answer. Many smart leaders first evaluate the costs of retraining and rehiring and often find a strong case for keeping their team intact. If you can afford to use a market downturn as an opportunity to train your key staff members or to get them involved in other value-added projects, the investment will pay off. While we don’t know when valuations and market opportunities will bounce back, most of us are confident that they will recover. Businesses that are prepared with a strong team, a solid product, and the right relationships will catch the first favourable winds.
2. Level Up
If you were unable to hire the best when the war for talent was much more fierce, you may have compromised with hires that were not the ideal fit. With far less competition for top talent, some leaders are using this opportunity to replace underperformers and level up the key roles in their businesses. Highly experienced professionals, who were not available just a year ago, are far more open to start-ups, fractional work, or businesses that may not yet have a big brand, but have a compelling story and an opportunity to make an impact.
3. Sabbaticals and Part-Time Work
You have the ideal team, but the runway just can’t allow for the payroll burden of your whole roster. Look at creative ways to lessen the burden while keeping the team intact. Does anyone want to take a sabbatical? Keeping the team on benefits while offering an unpaid few months off could ease the pressure. We have a client who calls these YOLOs and they are a huge perk.
Are there opportunities to move some of the team to part-time? You may find that you have employees who can afford some time off, and who may appreciate the mental health benefits of a break after the weirdness of the last few years. You may also have employees who could use the extra time to pursue a side hustle or do fractional work that enriches their lives and brings fresh ideas and perspectives to your team.
4. Focus on Relationships
Always add value. This is a core value at Artemis, and now is the perfect opportunity to realize its full power. Look at how your clients are being impacted by the market shift. The value that you can bring them also has shifted. Is there something you can do to help? Does this position you favourably with relationships or market insights that will give you a head start when things pick up? If you focus on the value, you may find new ways to also generate revenue.
5. Fortify your Foundations
When you were understaffed and running as fast as possible, how strained were your systems? How many things were relegated to the parking lot, needing to be addressed as soon as there was a moment to breathe? The important but not urgent list was probably getting long.
Well, this is your moment. If you barely caught your breath between the frenzy of growth and the abrupt turn of the market, find a moment to pause. Ask yourself what your business looks like if it is in the best possible position to conquer the market as things pick up again. I expect there are some neglected systems or processes, or general housekeeping that you can spend some time on. Your team may need to focus on personal health and balance, including the founders! When you fortify your internal and external relationships, your systems, and your values, you will have a business that will not just succeed in the short term, but it will be built to last.
Last spring the Artemis Canada team decided that the theme for our year was Fortify. For us, this means reinforcing our values, doubling down on our commitment to tech for good and investing in training, personal health, and balance, and putting new systems in place that will scale as we grow.
This year has brought an abrupt shift to just about everyone in the tech ecosystem. Chaos brings change, and every change comes lined with opportunity.