It’s a trying time for all of us.
My closest friends – people who have been running successful businesses for many years – have been thrust into a state of uncertainty and chaos.
Not only has the pandemic impacted revenue and productivity, but it has also affected the livelihood of employees, which is why I felt compelled to write this article.
While adversity can be crippling, it gives us an opportunity to put our best selves forward both personally and in the business space.
It paves the way for companies to come together as teams and provide value for everyone affected by this crisis – whether it’s your employees, your stakeholders, or your customers.
In times of crisis, we have two choices – we can seek to merely survive, or we can decide that we will instead, thrive.
I wanted to share the actions I took to pivot my company, Mindvalley, so that we moved from the phase of ‘survival’ to ‘thrive’.
Because if there’s anything this experience has taught me, it’s that humans and companies can excel, even in the most difficult of times. We must shift our mindsets, so I compiled a checklist of six items that every entrepreneur and founder should keep in mind while we collectively weather this storm.
1. Act Fast Now
It’s time to move. Don’t turn a blind eye to what’s happening by continuing business as usual. Instead, assemble your team in a war room (virtually if necessary) and decide on immediate action steps you’ll need to take. It’s crucial for you to come up with new ideas that can be implemented in order to adapt to these circumstances.
Remember, speed and agility is key.
In our case, the first thing I did was gather data.
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I had our data analysts rework our company dashboards and analytics so they could extract the information needed to tell us exactly what was going on with Mindvalley. Once we had that data, we were able to make data-driven decisions, particularly with areas of the company that were directly affected by the situation.
For example, data showed that our events division was suddenly redundant; the pandemic had forced us to cancel all upcoming events, which has happened to many companies all over the world.
So what did we do with the 20 or so employees in this team whose roles became nonessential for the coming months? We redesignated them to other areas of the company.
“Even though we were committed to cutting costs company-wide, one of the most controversial decisions I made was to not lay off a single human being who worked for us.”
Instead, those employees could support other divisions that suddenly have more work, while freeing up resources for us to continue innovating and pushing forward.
Now, this isn’t always the case – it’s not always about data. If you’re well-tuned into your industry and have certain intuitions or insights on how to continue serving your customer, then you need to listen to that.
As an entrepreneur, consider the following: your employees chose to work for you.
Before Covid-19, unemployment was at an all-time low in the U.S., and yet, your employees chose you, placing their trust in you when other options may have been available.
This is a great moment to repay that loyalty.
So I suggest you do whatever you need to do to keep your company afloat and do everything in your power to put your people first. We’ll get through the pandemic, but dedicated and passionate employees are irreplaceable.
2. Don’t Be Afraid Of Making Difficult Decisions
One of the first things I did was explain to the company that we needed to make budget cuts. These would come from services, software, and contractors we were using to run the business.
Mindvalley employs some 300 people – 200 of whom are full-time employees and 100 of whom are contractors and service providers.
When all this started, I promised my employees that they were safe and that I would protect them; but in order to do that, I knew we needed to let go of our contractors.
Most of them were remote freelancers, with a set of specialized skills. I knew it would be tough at first, but I also knew they would eventually find other clients.
On the other hand, Mindvalley’s full-time employees come from 59 different countries – some of whom had relocated to different cities with their families, just to work for us.
Letting them go would have devastated their lives as they simply don’t have the same mobility as contractors.
So while some decisions may be difficult, don’t be afraid to make the call. Instead, see this as prioritizing what’s truly important to you and the company.
3. Take Charge And Focus
In hard times, it’s crucial to realign your focuses and objectives.
For me, I redesignated everyone in Mindvalley into one of two Trello boards. I wanted everyone to focus on only two objectives so that the entire company could come together and innovate our way out of this situation.
The first board is all about the new business engine we’re building, keeping in mind how this could impact revenue in the future. You see, we knew revenue was going to take a dip; this was something we had no control over. So instead of focusing on numbers, we chose to focus on conversions. We set a new goal of converting every visitor to our site into a Mindvalley customer.
You can’t control how Covid-19 will affect countries and the economy, but you can control your approach to it.
The second focus was on how to best serve our community, which is why we’re currently completely revamping our website and the Mindvalley platform. We know that once we provide the best customer experience and value for our visitors, they won’t hesitate to invest in our products. We’re also providing free programs for kids and teens and churning out tons of content on our social channels.
So remember, focus on what’s important. Once you have focus, you’ll automatically know what your next steps should be.
4. Take Care Of Your Employees
When things started to look bad, I promised my staff I would do everything to ensure that nobody would get laid off, but I also asked for their help.
For the next three months, I asked that everyone postpone their long vacations so we could focus, focus, focus.
I told all employees they have a role to play in keeping the company afloat and I needed them to give 110%.
The extra 10% doesn’t mean burnout, because Mindvalley has always had fairly comfortable hours. This extra effort would go a long way to serve our community in the coming weeks and months.
Here’s what I’ve learned – when you put your employees first, they put the company first.
Despite most of the company working from home, our productivity shot up.
We have come together and developed new programs and services for our 15 million fans to help them through this period.
For parents stuck at home, we launched a new parent coaching program called ‘Little Humans’, featuring the top parenting experts in America. These experts are on Zoom calls to teach parents new skills they can use to raise their children.
We even launched an exercise program. So for those who aren’t able to hit the gym, our kettlebell program is now completely free. It was important for us to support the health of our community even while being stuck indoors.
Almost every week we’re launching new programs and content at no cost to our community to provide educational support, personal growth tools, and insights to help you all get through this period.
Remember – employees and customers always come first.
5. Be Transparent
Complete transparency paves the way for appreciation and dedication.
I knew it was important to tell the entire Mindvalley team where we stood financially.
I told them that I don’t want to give a sense of false positivity.
I said, “You have families. You have kids. I want you to know the status and health of our company so you can make an informed decision on whether to stay or leave, depending on how tough it may get. But on my end, I plan on navigating this ship without losing a single sailor.”
I also established that there wouldn’t be any salary cuts because I needed all of us to come together and innovate our way out of this problem.
I believe many of them understood and appreciated such transparency. Since then, there’s been a deeper sense of camaraderie at Mindvalley. Productivity and innovation have shot up, even though the office has been shut down. We haven’t seen each other in person for more than a month now.
Be transparent with your staff – they’ll appreciate it and give back so much more.
6. Have A Clear Plan Of Action
Earlier in this article, I mentioned focusing on conversions, but keep in mind that simply having a goal is not enough. You also need a clear plan of action. So we took that plan and broke it down into steps.
We use Trello to give the company an overview of the new innovations we’re building and when we expect to deliver these innovations.
We use the work operating system monday.com to create clear targets, deliverables and deadlines for employees.
We also created a new set of objective key results (OKR’s), so that every single team in the company is aligned with what we’re doing in relevance to the current situation.
The key here is making sure that every area of your company is moving towards one clear goal, which is absolutely crucial in times of uncertainty.
If you’d like to learn more on how Mindvalley uses OKRs to elevate itself as a business, you can check out my talk here, on YouTube.
By evaluating this checklist of six items, you can do more with your company that just keep afloat and hang in survival mode. It’s a difficult time for all of us, but with the right mindset and actions, we can use this as an opportunity to serve those in need and help elevate your employees and your community to the next level.
Break Free From Survival Mode
Given the state our world is currently in, you may feel even more pressure to work even harder to get by or just stay afloat.
But what if ‘hard work’ and ‘hustling’ isn’t really the answer?
In my brand new book, I reveal some concepts that may permanently disrupt your most deeply held beliefs about work, success, and life itself.
I believe success is all about merging the twin powers within all of us. I call them…
The ‘Buddha’ – the spiritual master.
And the ‘Badass’ – the changemaker who challenges the status quo.
While both of these archetypes have power all on their own, the real magic happens when you can merge them together in your work and in your life.
And it’s from this state of being that you’ll begin to experience life on a completely different level, operating from a place of ease, bliss, abundance, and inspiration.
If you’re ready to stop going through the daily motions and find meaning and motivation in work that deeply moves you, then you can pre-order your copy of The Buddha and the Badass using the link below.
I truly hope that you find these concepts useful, and once this crazy uncertain time passes (which it will), I know you will have everything you need, not to simply survive, but to thrive.
For more tips and ideas on how to be more productive during this period of COVID-19, follow me @vishen on Instagram.