Advice to founders/startups during these times

I’m a bit pressed for time this morning but I thought I would share some of the advice I am giving to entrepreneurs as they deal with our crisis.

1/ Survive. This is the theme of our entire collective at the moment but in the startup world it is a central organizing principle. I have heard some investors suggest a broad/general overview that goes something like this:

-assume Q2 is a wipeout revenue-wise
-assume Q3 is 30% of your original plan
-assume Q4 is 50% of your original plan for the year.

This may not be appropriate for every startup but more likely than not it will be the closer to reality than we want to believe. Please note: no one is going to blame you for overreacting or having a poor 2020 year from a revenue standpoint. Everyone’s numbers will look horrible. You just need to get through the year.

2/ Be generous. Unfortunately many startups are only offering 2 weeks severance. For startups with challenging balance sheets, that might be the best they can do. But if you can do better, then do better. Also, significantly extend the employee stock options exercise window for laid off employees from the standard 90 days to something dramatically longer.

3/ Be healthy. I’m still hearing of CEOs and execs returning to the office to get stuff done. For the most part, I don’t think this is a wise or healthy choice. The better choice is to stay home, set a good example for your employees and focus on your employees well being,  your customers, your culture. You most likely do not need to go to the office right now. Eat healthy, get proper sleep, and get daily exercise. Grinding yourself 24×7 right now won’t scale. And this is definitely not a fucking sprint.

4/ Be kind. Your team, your board, your employees are all on hyper edge right now. They are seeing bad news throughout most of their day. We are all going through it. We need to cut each other a bunch of slack for a salty comment or honest mistakes. And most of all we need to be kind to ourselves.

Unfortunately all of this will get worse before it gets better. And it will take longer than we all desire. There is no simple playbook, or magic wand or silver bullet for these times. This is when we all dig in to the best of our abilities and show up.

We will get through this.

A special note to all the founders in the Spark family: I know I speak for all of my partners when I say we are beyond very grateful for your leadership, hard work and commitment. These are unprecedented times and my words can’t possibly express our gratitude and empathy right now.