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HEART Principle for Founders

Adopting the HEART principles during stressful times.

There are a few versions of the acronym HEART, but this one recently from Harvard Business Review makes sense during time of crisis . If you are trying to keep the company moving forward, managing staff reductions, or just trying to meet sales quota, we are people dealing with people

1) Humanize your company

We are people who care about doing the best under difficult circumstances. No matter what happens in the business world, ultimately what matters is people. During recessions people still have bills to pay, family to care for and the added uncertainty of that the short term future holds. If your company is having a tough time, the last thing you want to do is alienate customers or prospects.

2) Educate about change

Ok, so it's not business as normal but customers want to know what's running and what isn't. Can I expect my order to be delayed, stopped, canceled, refunded, etc. Are people working reduced hours, at home, not at all, etc. Changes might happen suddenly or unexpectedly, but it is important to take time to communicate to your customers so you can set expectations. It is also a great time to get in front of customers and build trust and personal relationship. In times of crisis, expectations dramatically shift and we are in this together as people, as a planet.

3) Assure stability

This may seem tough when people are getting laid off or offices and factories are force to shut down. All of this is outside of anyone's control. No matter how bad it seems, history teaches us that the world will continue. While it's important to be transparent about the current situation, everyone needs to be reminded of what still works, why the company is in good shape to weather the storm, and how you will get to the other side.

4) Revolutionize offerings

Some companies have been able to be a real force for good. Weather it is switching production capacity to manufacture ventilators or a logistics company re-focusing on importing masks. These are very specific to the COVID-19 crisis, but during any recession the market needs change. Ask yourself if you can add home delivery, broader e-commerce capability, or prioritizing certain products & services. Many companies are figuring ways to stay open, so if you are looking for ideas in your industry, you just need to look around.

5) Tackle the future

Most companies during a sudden recession throw out the budget. That decision depends on the company, but realistically, there will be an impact. So while you don't need to know everything, you do know somethings. Look at cash flow. What suppliers do you need to pay, what employees are critical during this time, what can I put off or cancel to hold on to cash. Most entrepreneurs can play chess in their heads and while the government muddles its way into helping companies, you will still need to survive. Bailouts may come, but you may be under when they do. Focus on keeping the lights on, no matter how dim, and think of a plan for the next 1 to 3 months and what it will take to get the business running again.


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