Campbell Williams is an entrepreneur, advisor and company director with 23 years’ commercial experience. He has founded numerous companies, made 25 acquisitions, and undertaken $500m of fundraises. At Sunfish, he works with ambitious founders to help their businesses to stand out, scale up, and sell on.
We’re probably all sick of reading articles that feature “… unprecedented…” in the opening paragraph. This is not one of those features. Instead, I’ll take a more optimistic look to the future and how we can be prepared for success down the road.
Even in uncertain times, there are a few things we know for sure. Firstly, not everybody will make it. As start-up founders and scale-up directors, that’s not a new pressure and one we know how to handle.
Secondly, a business that was good or great six months ago will still be good or great six months from now. Thirdly, a healthier climate will be more competitive than ever. Fewer prospects, tighter budgets and investors with higher standards.
Lastly, this is a unique opportunity for self-reflection and improving your business, if you want to take it.
I fundamentally believe that those who not only hold their nerve but maintain their boldness will come out of this stronger and better positioned for success than before. When COVID-19 hit, we had just started a revamp/relaunch of ourselves and I rejected the idea of cancelling it. Through tough times, I want to seize the opportunity to build a better business.
Many of you will still be in good shape. Perhaps you’ve secured a funding round already. Or you’re in an industry that’s been relatively unaffected. Maybe you’re just in a position where your senior team and your creative minds have a bit more time on their hands than they’re used to. If you have either financial capital or intellectual capital available, this is the time to make a big leap forward.
I encourage you to use this unique time for to ask these sorts of questions:
In an existential moment, asking why we exist as a business is important. It’s not growth or profit or shareholder returns, those are all effects. What’s the cause? Whether you are raising money or trying to win new clients, it’s essential that you know how you’re going to succeed in any market conditions and be relevant to all your stakeholders. Having a great product has never been enough.
The only other thing we know for certain is that we will get through this. Those who get through it will be stronger for the adversity but those who use this opportunity to strengthen themselves, to put clear blue water between them and their competition, and to standout in their marketplace, will not just survive but thrive.
In years to come, others will ask “what did you do with your business during the coronavirus?” I believe that those who say “we were brave, we kept raising money, we kept investing in our future, and we took steps to be in the best possible shape after it” will be the ones that deliver the best financial performance and will be the most investable in the long term. Good luck to you all and see you on the other side.
If you have any questions or need any advice during this difficult time, feel free to send us an email at email@example.com .