“Don’t waste a good crisis” — How do you innovate during fear and uncertainty?

By Del Irani & Adam Cleveland, Co-Founders of The Maker’s Corner

Have you ever seen a deer caught in headlights?

Well, it’s the look best described as paralyzing surprise, fear, or bewilderment.

Hands up if, as an entrepreneur, you’ve felt like this way at some point during the coronavirus pandemic.

Come on, be honest. The uncertainty is terrifying.

Just look at what’s been happening on the global financial markets. The wild swings on Wall Street have been dizzying with peaks and troughs as investors react to either positive (U.S Congress passing a $2 trillion dollar stimulus package) or negative news (the US overtakes China with most coronavirus cases).

There’s enough noise, data, statistics and yes, even news out there to paralyze the best and bravest amongst us. But hold your horses! According to leading business experts, we need to be doing the exact opposite. Innovate, adapt and by gosh, whatever you do — don’t waste a good crisis!

The question is: HOW?

Last week, we hosted a live, interactive social media broadcast with Carey Ransom, President of OC4 Venture studio and Ronald L. Hollis, President & CEO of MFG where we discussed best practices for how to turn a fluctuating global market into opportunities that will help you build your business, net revenue, and customer base.

Here are Carey and Ron’s top 5 pro-tips: 

1. Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.

“History has shown these are the times that some of the best companies are started, and there’s a lot of reasons why, but it will take a lot of resilience, grit, and commitment to make it through at a time like this.”

– Carey Ransom

“I think greater companies come out of these situations. I have seen more companies fail from having too much money and not enough discipline. Those who are going to come out of this are going to have a lot of discipline with enough money, and then you just build a great company” – Ronald L. Hollis, Ph.D.

2. Small business may have an advantage. No, really. 

“The bigger companies are going to be less agile and focused, mainly because their survival is a lot more complicated… But for small businesses, if you’re agile, you’re flexible, and you’re dynamic, now is the time.”

– Ronald L. Hollis, Ph.D.

“One of the unique advantages you have as a boutique firm is, that you can find ways to go out and listen to, and touch those customers that maybe you’ve had trouble connecting. I think you’re going to be able to reach them easier now than you have been able to…. Maybe there are ways to pick up small projects? Maybe you can subcontract with some of the bigger agencies?” – Carey Ransom.

 3. Innovate now… before your competitors catch-up.

“This is a great time to go innovate because you have less competition to do it… For a lot of bigger companies, innovation is actually a last resort. I think that recognizing that and seeing this as an opportunity on the other side is where some of these new companies are going to get started right now.”

– Carey Ransom.

 “There’s no excuse not to be integrated, and accessible, and reach out to other people via LinkedInFacebook, or whatever media channel you choose. It just takes the proactivity to go forward and do it. I’m a big believer in having a unique value proposition, have a competitive advantage, and knowing what it is, and then making sure others know about it.” – Ronald L. Hollis, Ph.D.

4. Worried about funding drying up? Think outside the box.

“Are there alternative ways for me to finance this? Can I build a business where the customer is going to help finance this out of the gate by buying my software? I’m financing it maybe through purchase orders and sales, and not necessarily this venture capital train that has been pretty accessible for the last 10 years.”

– Carey Ransom.

 “When I went through the dot-com bust, I said, “Okay, forget the spreadsheet. What am I going to do to stay in business?” It made my company better, stronger, more adaptable than it would have been if we had raised millions of dollars, which we were planning to do. We cared about every customer more, we cared about every product, and every dollar we spent in marketing had to have a return.” – Ronald L. Hollis, Ph.D.

5. Leaders, stand up!

“My experience in these situations is my leaders stand up. I know who’s with me when I’m going into war and those who hunker down or pull back. I know who I can count on. People need to know that there is a future. They need to know that their leader knows there’s a future and that he or she is making decisions to get us there.”

– Ronald L. Hollis, Ph.D.

“I think there are times like these that people…you know, the creativity and the human spirit get unlocked. I think we’re going to see, on the other side of this, some amazing things that have been developed in people’s homes, or garages, or in labs.” – Carey Ransom.

The fact is, there will be a future once this pandemic is over. We don’t know what it looks like, but this too shall pass. So we leave you with one final quote from the father of evolutionary thought, Charles Darwin:

 “It is not the strongest of the species that survives but the most adaptable to change.” 

Adapt, friends! It’s the key to our survival.

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