‘So What Do I Do Now?’: Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide in the Age of the Coronavirus

No one knows when this is going to end, writes The DEC Chairman Trey Bowles. But the good news is, people are trying to help. Here are things entrepreneurs can do in order to weather the storm of uncertainty.

The last week since the extent of the coronavirus severity has been a nightmare of biblical proportions and there has been more and more uncertainty every day. This is affecting all of us and has ramifications personally, professionally, mentally, and psychologically—and for entrepreneurs.

BAD NEWS: No one knows when this is going to end. Entrepreneurs are struggling to come up with concrete solutions to problems that seem to have no end in sight. People are losing their jobs and many businesses are in jeopardy of not making it through this crisis and survival is questionable for startups at this point.

GOOD NEWS: People are trying to help. The government is trying to figure out how to keep us safe and provide for the downturn in the economy. Communities are coming together and finding ways to support education, jobs, safety, and serve our “neighbors” in need. We have a few key practical steps to help you survive this next 90+ days of turmoil.

So, what can we as entrepreneurs do in order to weather the tumultuous storm of uncertainty and the unknown? The one thing that is hardest for entrepreneurs to survive is the idea of time. It takes time to develop a market, time to create a proof of concept and time to establish a sustainable business model and revenue stream. Well, I don’t have all of the answers, but I do have a few suggestions that can help entrepreneurs survive in the world of the coronavirus.

Three key steps

I believe as entrepreneurs there are three key steps to how we respond to the world we are living in today.

1. Find content, information, and resources that can help you respond to this reality. 

2. Surround yourself with a team. Key staff, advisors, board members, and mentors can help give you the best advice and counsel based upon their experience and expertise.

3. Give back. Realize the responsibility that entrepreneurs as leaders have to serve in our communities in the places that people need help.

As a response to Key No. 1, listed above, there are numerous sites, resources, and locations where there is designated help and support for entrepreneurs. Here are a few to start with:

Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

SBA Disaster Assistance Program

7 Ways Startups Should Be Preparing for Coronavirus

How Businesses Should Handle the Coronavirus Outbreak

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Going Remote: Start Here

Switchbacks: The Never Told Stories of Entrepreneurs

In light of the recent pandemic, Dallas entrepreneur Nick Kennedy and I decided to launch a new podcast, “SwitchBacks: The Never Told Stories of Entrepreneurs” earlier this week. Our first episode focuses on practical solutions that entrepreneurs can use to survive this colossal and global attack that is stopping most entrepreneurs in their tracks.

READ NEXT Startups, Listen Up: Dallas Entrepreneurs Trey Bowles and Nick Kennedy Have a New Podcast

You can find the podcast on Spotify. We hope this will be helpful to you as you are trying to figure out the next steps on how to survive and hopefully one day optimize and thrive in the future.

Bowles and Kennedy focus on four topics necessary to startup survival in Season 1, Episode 1: Cash is king, communication is key, develop a plan (30-60-90 days), and opportunity to innovate and lead. 

So what do I do now?

1. Bring together key stakeholders and decision-makers who are going to lead this change.
2. Set clear, concise, and intentional set of plans on how to address this opportunity/challenge
3. Execute …Track and Measure Change and Execute more.

Despite the uncertainty of the future, you have to remember this is just business. Just like in any other part of the rollercoaster that is building a business. Building a business is simple. It is not easy, but it is simple. All you have to do is create a product or service, sell that product/service and then serve your customers to retain them and grow your userbase. You need to view this current state as another opportunity to respond to the market forces and develop a plan that will allow you to continue to grow, survive and thrive into the future. Treat this obstacle like any other and determine how to address opportunities and challenges as they arise and work to mitigate and then excel.

As an added benefit to the entrepreneurial community, one of our organizations, The DEC Network is going to work to develop a FREE “Fast Start” Mentorship program that connects entrepreneurs with mentors that can help you make it through this uncertain time.

Finally, we would like to challenge entrepreneurs to think outside of yourselves during this time. Find a way to respond to the needs of your community. We would like to connect you with opportunities to serve and support your local community and utilize your skill sets, your experience, and expertise to give back to those who need and could use your help. Entrepreneurs have to decide in the early days what the ethos of your give back strategy will be and in order to lead well and grow you also need to determine how you are going to “give back” to those around you. We have partnered with the #BeANeighborCampaign in order to connect volunteers with non-profits and opportunities to “give back”.

Go to www.beaneighborcampaign.com to sign up as an individual and serve those in need in your local area.

A version of this column first appeared on Medium.

Trey Bowles is a serial entrepreneur, social capitalist, and educator. Bowles is the co-founder and president of InnoCity Partners LLC, a boutique consulting firm focused on supporting cities/municipalities, corporations, and innovators working to develop innovative solutions for their communities that support and create the best place for their citizens to live, work, and play. Bowles co-founded the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC), a central location for entrepreneurs to learn how to start, build and grow businesses through training, education, mentorship, promotion, and capital investment. Currently the executive chairman of the The DEC, he recently stepped out of his role as CEO. Bowles also co-founded and launched the Dallas Innovation Alliance, a public partnership to develop a Smart Cities initiative for the City of Dallas.

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Trey Bowles is a serial entrepreneur, social capitalist, and educator. Trey cofounded the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC), a central location for entrepreneurs to learn how to start, build and grow b(...)