Friendly Advice
Apr 23, 2021

Navigating an Uncertain Economy as a Startup

Madeline Ury

One of the most difficult things about launching a startup is navigating the current state of the economy, and figuring out where your business fits into it. The economy is constantly changing, and at times things are uncertain for business owners.

Inc. describes economic uncertainty as times “when risks are higher and resources are lower.” The uncertain times in question do come around every now and then. Don’t let that stop you from pursuing your amazing startup idea, though! In fact, more than 60% of venture capital is produced by just 6% of venture companies in existence.

In simpler terms, your startup is not a failure just because of economic uncertainties that may arise -- even experienced business professionals go through those periods of time. There are ways you can navigate through and come out even better on the other side. So many successful startups have!  

Focus on what you have to offer

spreadsheets detailing a business plan
Don’t lose faith in your business plan, and don’t lose sight of your goals!

It is very possible to come out of uncertain economic times on the other side, but in order to get there, it’s important to remain laser-focused on what your company has to offer. Don’t cut back on your marketing budget just because customers are spending less or using your service less -- this is actually when you should up the ante!

By that we mean, keep investing money into your product and into marketing it. Take that time to get feedback from people who use your product or service. Whatever you can do to make your business offerings even better, do it!

Use it to your advantage

a team collaborates on new ideas
You put this team together for a reason and everyone brings something to the table -- it’s time to use that to your advantage!

Okay, we know what you’re thinking -- use a grim economic outlook to an advantage? Seriously? But hear us out.

Getting through uncertain times requires some creativity on the part of your company, which in itself requires everyone to work together. If things are slower for your business, you have a unique opportunity to work as a team with people in all departments. You might discover that people who aren’t at the forefront of the company also have great ideas -- they were hired for a reason, right? Innovation and fresh perspectives will always put your company at an advantage.

Plus, if you and your team can come up with something different than other similar companies, that’s also going to put you ahead of the competition. It can seem like an easy solution to follow the same path as others who are successful -- especially when the future of your startup is unknown -- but individuality is an advantage. Like we said, focus on what you can offer customers during tough times!

Stay in the know

a newspaper and a hot coffee
Staying in the know about current trends and keeping up with the state of the world is absolutely essential for the success of a startup.

Things are constantly changing in terms of the economy, but your customers’ needs and wants shift just as frequently. As a startup, you and your team need to stay in the know about all of the above, all the time. That means watch for economic downturn indicators often, and be as up to date as you can about the state of the economy and the world in general.

And, while customers’ needs and wants are changing all the time, economic uncertainty only accelerates those changes. With other things going on in their own lives during times like this, your product or service may not be what your customer needs anymore. Needs change with the times! By staying up to date on popular interests and current trends, you can be one step ahead of the shifting needs of the consumer -- or at least, in step with. You may still have something to offer, with a little revamping of your product or even just marketing techniques.

In fact, there’s a lot of technology out there to help you determine exactly what your customer does want, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. It is very possible to use these tools to help keep your customers engaged and make what they need available right at their fingertips.  

algorithms/machine learning technology
Machine learning makes navigating a treacherous economy much easier.

Also, you should frequently check in with your business plan. A lot can change in the process of developing your startup, and you want to keep track of the data you started with, and the data you’re gathering.

It should also evolve as your business evolves! Professionals at Small Businessify believe that “If your business plan is still catering to the needs of the people from a few years back, then it is already outdated and in serious need of a revamp.” You can take advantage of uncertain times by connecting with customers and employees to see which parts of your business plan still work and which ones do not. Those conversations can help you cultivate relationships with important people who will then allow themselves to trust you and your startup!

Make connections

Professional connections can offer advice and better understand what you and your startup are going through during uncertain economic times.

Speaking of connections, professional relationships are everything! Not just with people in the same field or employees directly working with you, but with suppliers, with customers, and anyone else you come in contact with through business channels. You never know when these connections will come in handy.

Well, actually, you do know that they will come in handy in times of economic uncertainty. Professional networks are always more than willing to help each other out, especially when times are tough and the future may seem bleak.

Hire with purpose

a word cloud that describes a startup employee
It’s important to invest time into building a strong team!

Research has shown that company talent has one of the largest impacts on companies as a whole, along with customers and finances. Many CEOs who participated in the survey emphasized how important a strong internal culture is for any company. That strength is built by hiring people purposefully -- people who will make direct impacts on the company, and people who can lead effectively.

Stay positive!

a team celebrates success
When you love what you do, staying positive will be easier than you think, no matter the circumstances.

Optimism can be challenging as a startup in general, but especially in uncertain economic times. However, it’s another strength that people will definitely notice in your company. If you aren’t giving up, neither will your customers, and they will trust you even more. Stay positive! If you trust what your company has to offer -- we know, we sound like a broken record -- optimism will come naturally. You’ve got this.

See? Economic uncertainty can be tough for a startup, but when you have the right team, make the right connections, stay informed, and remain positive, your startup can still succeed according to plan. There are always bumps in the road when embarking on a business venture, but remember that you wouldn’t be at this stage if your idea wasn’t great -- it’s possible to navigate the road to success, no matter how long and winding!