How to Be an Industry Leader During COVID-19

March 19, 2020 by  Chris Erwin

5 Principles to Remember During Times of Crisis

1. Do right by others. Preserve your business ecosystem.

The world thrives via ongoing community and connectivity, and everyone is in need. Fellow business leaders. Employees and their families. Governments. Strategic partners. Clients.

COVID-19 does not discriminate.

Preserve the ecosystem that helps build and sustain you. Assume a positive sum outlook and do right by others. Identify where you can support your community’s financial and business health; adjust receivables terms, offer employment, do fair deals, provide mentorship.

Altruism = self preservation.

Of course, you must protect your own sustainability first and foremost. Otherwise, your altruism will be short lived.

We can then all rise together sooner than later. Let this mindset persist post crisis.

Endless dividends will accrue to your business and team for decades to come.


2. Be a strong leader. Set by example.

Uncertainty drives hysteria and value destruction. Stock markets collapse, employees depart, customers churn.

Strong leadership builds certainty and confidence, which makes our socio-economies thrive. Like the COVID-19 virus sweeping our global population, this top-down certainty and confidence is highly contagious.

As an industry leader, you now have a key role to play. It is imperative that you instill positivity juxtaposed with prudence and realism. You are in now in service to other founders, fellow company leadership, team members and industry peers.

How best to do this?

Set the example and hold your team BIG. Be a pillar of strength. Be fully accountable to your team’s outcomes. Maintain continuity in your company’s mission and obligations to community.



3. Differentiate your brand. Build trust and credibility.

At Rockwater our clients are next-generation consumer brands. They differentiate and thrive based on mission and values-based business models.

The best leadership and teams ensure their mission and values persist through times good and bad. They evangelize their mission and values inside and outside the company, and build large ranks of support.

In times of crisis, the best leadership doubles down on building customer trust and delight. They relentlessly give, knowing they are investing in their customers and brand for the long haul.

This giving pays off in spades.

A company “brand” is simply a customer promise – you must tirelessly and consistently deliver against it. Your brand promise is not just an end product or service delivered via a singular channel – it is a feeling that manifests with every single brand and team touch point.

Are you and your teams staying true to your mission and values? If unclear, now is a good time to codify what you stand for and believe in.

How are you building trust and relentlessly giving back to your customers?


4. Thrive with less. Preserve cash flow.

There will be less capital investment and longer closing windows. There will be longer sales and AR cycles. Customers will churn.

There will be other adversity you don’t anticipate specifically, but can anticipate generally.

So, learn to make the most of what you have. Be more discerning in new capital projects. Reduce OPEX. Delight your core clients. Optimize user acquisition. Build relationships with only the highest quality partners.

Enact unprecedented yet positive change in your business.

Companies and individuals who sustain the greatest wealth learn to live with less the more they earn. Now is the perfect time to train and optimize.

How can your business emerge leaner and stronger…and be setup for outsized success in the next growth stage?


5. Focus only on what matters (80/20). Work smart.

It is critical to refocus your efforts only on what moves your business and community forward.

Identify what is and is NOT meaningful in your daily workstreams. Shed wasteful meetings, processes, software, communications, clients, partners, product lines, more.

In turn, you will have more time to focus on what drives core growth and sustainability, and time is a company’s most precious resource (cash flow, investment, good employees et al simply provide more operating time).

This period of self reflection and business examination is a gift.

Going back over a month, we at RockWater have a digital publisher client that drastically cut the amount of travel to conferences and events (previously “biz dev and brand marketing”).

Productivity has skyrocketed, burnout has subsided and team camaraderie is at an all time high.

With budget pullbacks, client campaign cancellations and partnership delays, your team’s time will be freed up.

Don’t scramble a response; strategically deploy.

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