100 QUESTIONS FOR CEOS TO MASTER COVID-19 CRISIS

23 March 2020,   By   

Caspar David Friedrich – Wanderer above the sea of fog

100 Questions For CEOs To Master Coronavirus Crisis

You won´t be surprised, that the world will significantly change during and after the Covid-19 crisis. Countries are closing borders, companies switch to home office (if possible) or shut-down for a while, first bans to go outside were ordered by increasingly more governments and there is more to come. This is quite dramatic, but it does not mean your business needs to stand still. Every crisis offers its chances and it’s worth discovering your opportunities as you live through it right from the beginning. We have collected 100 thoughts, resources and questions from CEOs, in four core fields of attention, for you. Reflect for yourself and see, if there is a better chance to adapt your business. Try to consider this crisis as a unique opportunity to revisit and redefine processes and ways of doing business. And, if there are synergies to leverage together we are eager to hear  from you!

 

FAMILY AND PEERS

  1. Is health your top priority? Make sure YOU and your family stay safe. You can’t save your company, if you or your loved ones are sick or stressed out with you at home (more).
  2. Do you take enough time to talk and listen to your beloved ones? Your parents, your friends and all the other people you would never let down will need you more than ever – make sure to schedule time to engage with them everyday (more).
  3. How are your colleagues doing? It’s natural for people to feel lonely after a while, esp. when they are not used to working remotely (more).
  4. This crisis pushes you out of your comfort zone, do you feel confident enough to accept this challenge with a smile ? (more)
  5. Did you know about the millions of tutorial videos, webinars, high-end courses and podcasts available to improve your skills? You will find so many great things to learn – no excuse for you or any of your colleagues to get bored. (more)
  6. How do you make use of the time you are not spending on commuting to work? Do you use this time to workout? Try this and stay fit!
  7. Which steps can you make now to be better off in 6 months, 1 year and 3 years? Learn to code, start a diet, learn a language, start an online MBA – set a goal, create routine and get to it!
  8. What would be the best advice you would take from Chinese peers? (more)
  9. How do you motivate and contribute to help keeping the sanity of your colleagues?
  10. Do your employees have other skills beyond their core area of expertise you could use now when everything is upside down?
  11. Do you have a timeline? Write down the steps you want to make today, next week, month and until the end of the year!
  12. Have you reviewed your business plan yet? Run scenarios for faster and slower recovery (more).
  13. Reflect your role! Who are you for your company and what do you have to change/improve to better suit the situation? You may listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PivWY9wn5ps
  14. WHO are you (today)? Close your eyes for 1 minute and pitch your personality to yourself. Did you like this pitch? Change your pitch and repeat until you really like it (again)!
  15. Have you or your company been criticised recently? Did you reflect properly on this criticism? Take your time and learn from the critique you received!
  16. What is the simplest task you can finish NOW? Remember: one step follows the other, do not overdo and block yourself!
  17. Have you been in contact with someone important before the crisis outbreak? Follow-up! Contact them and get back in touch. Find ways how your topic should be adapted to actual situation. Never stop networking!
  18. Are you paying attention to actual media coverage beyond the general crisis topic? Your filter mechanisms need to adapt to find the information you can profit from. Search for at least three news articles everyday referring to the sector of your startup with useful information for you.
  19. Are you setting google alerts to keywords that might be an opportunity for your business?
  20. Are you asking your employees about their opinion about possible opportunities? Take the chance and discuss with your team which opportunities exist at the moment you could easily take. You are not alone even if you sit alone in the office.
  21. Are you stuck and overwhelmed? Try something new and distract yourself to stay fresh in your mind. You can go for a jog or for a walk every time; or try out a new skill to free up your mind.
  22. Do you fear anything at the moment? Have a third-person view on your thoughts and this fear and try to consider the facts and not the emotions around it! Solve this problem!
  23. Are you preparing for change? You have to face it and also to accept it that things will not get back to how they were before. There is no space for vanity or nostalgia. Ask yourself which changes you might face regarding your company!

 

YOUR COMPANY

  1. Do you see any positive things / strengths about your company (startup) at the moment? Find and write down three of them.
  2. Do you see any positive things about the crisis? Write down three of them. Do you see any overlaps?
  3. What does your balance sheet tell you about the actual state of your company?
  4. How is your cash flow? Be realistic here!
  5. For how long do your (financial) resources last?
  6. Identify those who invest / finance startups during crisis and contact them! AGAIN: Never stop networking!
  7. Do you keep your eyes open? Keep applying for competitions and events – most of them will be held online or postponed in second half of 2020 (NOTE: Invest and Connect series for Smart Mobility and European Super Angels Club is open for applications).
  8. Are your employees financially safe? Did you do everything to keep them with you?
  9. Do you have a policy for remote work for your employees? How can you motivate your employees and show leadership in those hard times?
  10. Are there any services you can provide with your startup that help the public to master the crisis?
  11. What can your startup offer to improve the situation?
  12. Can you change your services in this direction and make your company more visible?
  13. Which steps are necessary to change the crisis into a chance for you? Think outside the box! (e.g., Airbnb was founded in August 2008, one month before the bankruptcy of Lehman brothers just in the middle of the infamous financial crisis starting by the end of 2007)
  14. Is there maybe a new niche market you could adapt to? Can you switch the product of your startup/s to suit the needs of this newly emerged market? Keep in mind: Flexibility is king.
  15. Can you make a special offer during the crisis to help out the public, but also to win new customers for the time after?
  16. Which internal projects or tasks that have been postponed in the past that can be done now?
  17. Think about your technological infrastructure? Do you need software updates? Maybe a new software installed or even hardware updates?
  18. What was it that you have wanted to change in your office for a long time? Maybe now it is the time?
  19. Have you already thought about a new employee? Search now for skilled people who will need a change after crisis and get in contact with them!
  20. What are you willing to sacrifice first, if things get worse?
  21. What will you sacrifice last and how can you keep it until the bitter end?
  22. Talking about unpleasant facts: which of your running costs can be minimalized or completely canceled at the moment? Develop an emergency program!
  23. What department of your company may cause damage during the crisis? Does this department have a crisis handbook?
  24. Are there any assets that you might need in the future you can buy cheap NOW? Invest, if you can!
  25. Which were your three largest past pain points and how could you get rid of those in the future?
  26. Which milestones have to be taken to get your company back on track?
  27. Which is your biggest risk at the moment? How can you minimalize it? Write it down!
  28. Are your services mostly offline? What would it take to switch them to online?
  29. Think about your competitors! What are they doing at the moment?
  30. Which strategies are they using? Can you stick together to be better off?
  31. Which of their strategies could you implemented into your company?
  32. Are there any other companies in other sectors you could contact for synergies that help you both? Contact them, they will appreciate!

 

HELP AND INSTITUTIONS

  1. Did you check all governmental helps that might be suitable for your company?
  2. Which conditions do your local banks offer to master the crisis and help your startup during those hard times?
  3. Which documents do you need to apply for those credits / programs? Check the deadlines!
  4. Are there any political discussions about upcoming regulations you can use for your benefit? Most restaurants in the affected regions switched to home-delivery restaurants almost overnight!
  5. Do you have an actual problem you have no solution for? Who could solve this problem? Contact this person or institution NOW!
  6. Are there any red flags on the horizon you could prepare for NOW?
  7. Can you think of possible scenarios? What is the best, the worst and the most plausible one?
  8. Sticking to those scenarios: What steps have to be taken to survive the worst scenario?
  9. Are there any side effects or regulations during the crisis that might help your company to grow?
  10. Are you in the middle of a fundraising process? Prepare for delays and communicate openly to all your investors what your company needs at which time. Even small help could now save you!
  11. Are you realistic? Times changed and those in charge may have now more power than they had before. Screen all offers and proposed deals carefully and have the new, actual situation in mind and not on the past. Are you prepared for getting a worse deal than before? At which point are you going to sign? BUT: Negotiate everything!

 

COMMUNICATION AND OPPORTUNITIES

  1. Does your pitchdeck/ product presentation need any cosmetics? Apply it now!
  2. Do your communication assets need to be actualized?
  3. Are your core values and key messages still representing the company?
  4. Regarding this, how are your communications running? Is there something you might need to inform your stakeholders now, next week or in three months?
  5. Take the chance and talk to your customers and stakeholders! Tell them what is going on in your company and which steps you are making to master the crisis and to weather the storm!
  6. Doing this, DO NOT lie or exaggerate facts. Everyone knows what is going on and you should not risk losing your credibility. Do you have a strategy to communicate unpleasant facts about your situation? You may contact our Partner SkyrocketX Communications, if case of need – they can help you with optimal communication strategies!
  7. Do you need a landing page for informing the public about your actions or actual happenings? Set it up or get help doing it!
  8. Which changes in your marketing plan have to been done now to adapt to the crisis?
  9. Which growth models can be implemented in your company’s strategy?
  10. Do you have plan how you can achieve growth even during a possible recession?
  11. Does your market segmentation suit the actual market?
  12. Which is the most stable segment in the market you can stick to?
  13. Which segment is decreasing or rising?
  14. Which steps have to be made to benefit from this?
  15. Is your product / solution still visible to your target audience?
  16. Did your target audience change because of the crisis?
  17. How did your target audience’s behaviour change because of the crisis?
  18. How can you better suit their needs?
  19. Do you still use the right marketing channels to sell your product?
  20. Which new channels can be implemented now?
  21. It is the best time to go online! Where can you participate? Where can you adapt?
  22. Does your customer service address the actual needs? Are your service employees aware of the actual situation and do they communicate properly?
  23. Which marketing tools do you use in your company and have you compared to what other ones became available in the meanwhile? They might offer better solutions on the market and suit your needs more or are more cost efficient.
  24. How did the market change during the crisis and how can you adapt to it the best way?
  25. Can you create any content that adds value to overall social media discussion?
  26. Are there any changes in your company’s infrastructure that should change after the crisis? How can you prepare your company for this?
  27. How will you review the crisis when it is over? What have you learned from your company’s crisis management? Protocol your steps and keep them for later review.
  28. Which standards should be implemented in the future to be better prepared?
  29. Any negatives? Write down three negative things in your company that you want to change in the future!
  30. What can be the solutions for the negative points? Write down for each negative point a method or action that could improve this point!

 

MOTIVATION – YOU WILL MAKE IT!

  1. Are you considering what’s trending topic (eg. product or service) ? Recent hypes might flatten or completely disappear during crisis. Think of at least three hypes that might evolve out of the current crisis in your region, country or even worldwide.
  2. A crisis for startups is not about “survival of the fittest”, but more about “last man standing”. Always keep in mind that your competitors might have opportunities you do not have access to. Otherwise, what are your opportunities your competitors do not have access to? Use your opportunities at given time!
  3. Make decisions! Even though times are hard it does not mean that you can hide from them. What decisions are necessary even though unpleasant that have to be done now?
  4. Last but not least: Stay calm and positive and always remember that most of the biggest and best companies were founded during periods of crisis. Take this opportunity and this is only possible, if your mind is not congested!

 

You see, there is plenty of work to do! Please stay safe and contact us, if you have an investment case that might be interesting for us. Just like you, we always have our eyes open for great opportunities even during a crisis.

 

 

About the author: Berthold Baurek-Karlic is Founder and CEO of Venionaire Capital, with many years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, corporate finance expert and early stage investor. He supports the startup ecosystem in various roles such as President of the European Super Angels Club, Board of Austrian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and General Secretary of Business Angel Institute.