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10 Things Every Early Stage Founder Needs to Stay Resilient

I’ve been reminded of resiliency continually over the past two weeks as I’ve spent all of my waking hours on the phone with founders as business dries up and our economy takes a downturn.

Here’s where I’ve landed from these conversations:

  1. Understand the Latest Resources: right now, we are bombarded constantly by news and media from all sides; it’s hard not to get lost in the noise. As an early stage founder, I highly recommend checking out the Small Business Administration website daily. Make this routine, every morning.
  2. Identify and Label the Changes: make a list of what has changed in your business as a result of COVID-19. Look at each item and brainstorm for each a possible short term solution (30-day cycles) and a longer term solution (90-day cycles). It doesn’t need to be shared necessarily, but you can reference this when talking to customers, investors, as well as your team.
  3. Get a Sounding Board: find a peer, another CEO or founder who you can check in with daily. Literally, daily. Make a pact with one another. This is your time to express concerns, anxieties and strategies. You’re not alone in this and having a trusted sounding board is key to staying sane.
  4. Reach Out: if you have current investors, reach out to them for support — even if it’s just time to talk through where your thoughts are on the business.
  5. Learn from The Past: find a former founder or CEO in your network who may be willing to talk to you about their experience with facing massive company challenges and economic downturns. We learn from history and past experiences.
  6. Sprint: if cash flow is an issue, think in 30-day sprints. What resources can you use in 30 days to achieve goals? Any existing internal resources? Outsourcing? Have conversations now with your banker, credit card companies and vendors. Do not wait.
  7. Document it: reserve 10 minutes daily to document/write/journal because this is part of your company’s experience and a part of your story as a founder. I also find that when I reference back to these notes, I see how much I have overcome, day by day, month by month. Revisit this to remember how much you’ve achieved.
  8. Health Check: Talkspace partners with several health insurance companies now; check them out. There are also a lot of resources available on mental health stewardship, like this guide by the CDC that you should review and make available to your team.
  9. Unexpected Help: Unfortunately many people are finding themselves home alone and isolated. Is there anyone in your family who is quarantined, not working and looking to stay distracted, who would be interested in helping out in any way? Data entry, bug testing, proofreading? Think inside and outside your business.
  10. Homeschool Interns: Have you seen all the Instagram memes with parents trying to figure out what to do with their kids?!Who do you know at home with middle school and high school students? There are a lot of parents who are looking for academic/homeschool work for their children. Think of these at-home students as — hopefully — a very short term new field of interns. If there’s a job to be done that is suitable for a student, I can assure you it’s a win-win and parents will love you.
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Shit is real.

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Finally, as leaders in businesses we often feel that we should have all the answers. Know it’s ok to not have all the answers right now. So many of the entrepreneurs I work with create products and services that make life and business better; they create jobs and invent new opportunities. This work is the lifeblood of a thriving economy. As an entrepreneur, your work will be critical to our economic rebuild and will contribute to creating more certainty in the days to come.


This piece originally appeared on Medium, and was published here with permission.

Joshua Isaac Smith

Joshua Isaac Smith

Joshua Isaac Smith is Co-Founder of the Impostor Breakthrough and a clinical trauma therapist based in London.

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