Founders Forum hosted Europe’s fastest growing company for an exclusive fireside chat earlier this month, entitled “FinTechs Adapting to Thrive”. The event featured Rishi Khosla, Co-Founder & CEO, OakNorth in conversation with Tunde Olanrewaju, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company.
We would like to offer our thanks to both Rishi and Tunde for generously giving their time, alongside the 150+ attendees to the session for their contributions to the session, co-hosted with 2020 Knowledge Partner, McKinsey & Company.
The following lessons for founders and CEOs emerged from the discussion, focusing on managing businesses through crises and adapting to survive:
1. Focus must be totally streamlined in crisis periods
- Scrap all non-essential projects: your focus should be on the core, even if you can afford peripheral activity.
- M&A should be pondered wisely: acquiring a business is a major distraction and if tangential to where you currently are then it can dilute your focus, however, acquiring adjacencies and strategic diversification could still be fruitful.
- Clarify the objectives for your customer base: if your business is unable to open until the end of the year, what product or service can you provide until then?
2. Strong, clear leadership is vital
- Through periods of increased intensity, founders and C-Suite leaders should deliver unifying calls to their teams.
- Motivation and productivity are vital, and working on these has never been more important than with dispersed organisations.
- Reallocate team resources to assessing your changing market so you can seize any upside opportunities as they emerge.
3. Liquidity is key to thrive and survive
- If you know you can only survive for three months, cut everything non-essential to elongate your runway.
- Be open to discussing financial arrangements with your executive team, i.e. taking cuts on salary whilst the business is struggling to make a profit – if the mission is clear, they will understand.
- If necessary to raise external funding, remember that down rounds are a viable option: there is a massive stigma around down rounds in private markets, yet these are acceptable in public markets and could keep your business afloat
4. Credibility is built in times of uncertainty
- The strongest businesses are built in adverse conditions and markets understand this. As such, perseverance is vital; if you knock on as many doors as you can, eventually someone will believe you and will be willing to support you financially.
- Showing proof of momentum is incredibly helpful in building credibility: if you can prove your proposition still holds in difficult times, you will develop an edge that will be reflected in your future performance.
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