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How to keep growing your business during COVID-19

Guest post by Michael Brook.

We don’t know how long this is going to last, or what the long term implications will be. What we do know is that we have a business on the line, and we have to do everything we can to survive.

Unless you’re one of the lucky ones whose business does very well during this crisis, many other businesses are struggling and being forced to adapt. Here are some of the lessons our company is learning during COVID-19.

Prepare for a long recovery

When we talk about a time when “this is over,” no one knows exactly when that will be. And even if that day clearly comes, will things ever truly go back to completely “normal”? Probably not. It doesn’t take long for people’s habits to change and persist long after the crisis is over. So take any precautions you can, including cutting costs to ensure that your business is safe in the future. But at the same time, don’t forget to look for opportunities. If things are slow, use this time to get ahead and think critically about your business and how to be more efficient. Or take care of things that have been on the back burner for a while that you know will become more important because of the circumstances. Using this time to do that now will only help your business get through a potentially long drought.

Double down on what you’re great at

Invest heavily in the things your business does extremely well. Whether you’re an established business or an early stage business, this is the time to go back to your roots and think about which investments will give you the maximum return. When times are uncertain, rebuilding some of that certainty will not only give you and your employees more confidence in the business, but also make you appear calm and focused to your customers, maintaining their trust that you will stick around for them in the long run. All of this will contribute to a more stable revenue flow.

Be reasonable

Deliver an excellent experience without charging a ton. A knee-jerk reaction to the situation may be to increase prices immediately to offset the loss of business, but this is the wrong move. Even if your product is in high demand during the crisis, be thoughtful about sudden changes in prices. You could easily open the door to competition who will compete for customers who can no longer afford your services. On top of that, it’s just kind of a lousy thing to do, when we know that so many consumers and businesses are losing money. Your customers will see that. If you remain at a reasonable price point, you will be a very attractive option for the growing market of consumers or businesses that need low cost options. If your business can tolerate it, a little more quantity over dollar-per-customer might not be a bad idea right now.

Invest according to value, not dollars

Cutting costs doesn’t necessarily mean stop making new investments. Instead, think about the level of value you get from each investment. Even if you make no new investments, doing nothing is still costing you money. It’s costing you by doing things the way they’ve always been done, but maybe that isn’t a terribly efficient way. Don’t be afraid to make investments in things that will save you time and money. Especially if, like most businesses, you’re now short staffed and everyone’s time is at a premium. You need to make the most of it. So investing in things that especially save you time will not only help your business actually save cost, but also help you focus on other more pressing matters, like proactively taking care of the needs of your customers.

The key to success in the world of COVID in all respects, business or otherwise, is to adapt, adapt, and adapt. If your business can adapt to the changing needs of customers and the economy, and navigate some of the uncharted waters we find ourselves in, by being more proactive than reactive, your business can succeed despite COVID.

Move swiftly but firmly.

Michael Brook is the CTO and co-founder of PitchlyThis story was originally published on Pitchly.

How to keep growing your business during COVID-19 | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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