By: Andrew J. Sherman, Senior Partner at Seyfarth Shaw;
How to Survive and Thrive COVID-19: A Guide for Growth-Minded Companies
For many companies, talk of growth has been put on the back burner until we all get way past the Covid-19 pandemic. The focus has been on survival, re-tooling of business plans and business models and keeping cultures intact when everyone is sheltered at home. Keeping customers may be a priority over getting new ones.
That’s perfectly understandable, but also short-sighted and potentially dangerous. This crisis will not last forever and most states are already working on phased-in back to work plans. Now is the time to get your companies in a position to grow for late 2020 and into 2021 and 2022. Many predict that a post-election, post-pandemic and post-job loss economy could be a comeback story for the ages. The question you need to ask is, will we be ready?
To help you answer that question, and other questions that will pop up as well, below is a check list to prepare you and your company for when the economy opens back up again:
- Opportunities: List all opportunities that the stay-at-home society created for your company. In addition, write down any new business relationships or channels.
- Talent: What highly talented people may now be available for you to recruit as some furloughed workers may not be invited back, or may not wish to return to their old jobs? Take a proactive approach to reaching out to potential hires; ideally you would like them on your team, up and running prior to the shelter-in-place period ending.
- Banking: Most lenders right now are frantically trying to figure out the government loan and grant programs. Examine those opportunities, but also review your banking relationships and credit lines; are they enough to fuel your company’s growth in the future?
- Supply Chain: What shifts in supply chain did you make to avoid dependence on overseas surplus? How will that affect your pricing to end consumers?
- Competition: Millions of companies are and will continue to be adversely affected by the pandemic. What opportunities may have arisen for you to buy competitors via an M&A strategy at potentially distressed valuations over the next 12-18 months? What new products, services, and/or locations are potentially available at much lower barriers to entry?
- Alternative Strategies: What other capital efficient growth strategies such as fundraising and licensing should you be considering to fuel expansion?
- Future Planning: What lessons have you learned and best practices have you adjusted to make you better prepared for the next disruptive event? Remember, none of the hard work your company does today will mean anything if you find your business in a similar situation 18-24 months from now.
- Leadership and Your Company’s Culture: To paraphrase a quote from long ago, leadership and a company’s culture aren’t built in tough times, they are revealed in tough times. How will your style of leadership, compensation strategies, CSR, and corporate citizenship strategies evolve by a post-Covid-19 environment? Do your employees actively embrace the culture in your company? Are they all still team players while working remotely? Any cracks in your company’s foundation have certainly been unmasked at this point. What are you doing to repair them?
In every crisis, there is also opportunity. Even if Covid-19 and its implications have been very hard on your company, the time to start planning your growth comeback is now.
Andrew J. Sherman is a corporate and transactional lawyer and author. Sherman is currently a senior partner at the Washington, DC office of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor for the MBA programs at McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University as well as at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. Sherman has written 26 books including Road Rules.