Paula Mariwala

Paula Mariwala is Executive Director at Seedfund Advisors and is also the President of the India chapter of the Stanford Alumni and Entrepreneurs (India Chapter). She has a Masters in Applied Physics from Stanford and years of experience with Seedfund Advisors - the VC firm that invested in redBus , Voonik,Mydentist, Carwale , Chumbak amongst many others.

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A Guide for Surviving the Funding Slow Down Without Losing Business

Be pragmatic about your company valuation yet confident about the potential to execute and survive with limited funding.

The entrepreneurial landscape can quickly change from a breezy ride through lush green fields to a treacherous trek through a barren dessert.

So when you have to cross through the Nafud dessert with no funding in sight, it is best to not waste time and energy chasing mirages which may look attractive but will yield no result, only expend precious scarce resources. Instead, focus on your goal of surviving the harsh journey by prudently managing your water, making most of any opportunity to stop at every oasis that comes your way to stock up and following the direction set by your compass. Any divergence and you are decreasing your chance of crossing the dessert.

Here are 10 Quick Tips to Survive in times of a slowdown in funding:

1. REFOCUS: Realign your goals, tweak the business plan to focus on spending money on things that will result in moving towards your goal profitably.

Work towards cash flow break even, as if the money in the bank is the last money you will see.

3. MEASURED GROWTH STRATEGY: Strategize for controlled growth. Change from a land grab mode to belt tightening mode. Which would mean don’t leave the turf wide open for your competition but manage to get customers innovatively and with lower acquisition cost.

4. DISCIPLINED DEVELOPMENT: Get the product team to focus on “must have” features, don’t spend resources of bells and whistles and aspire for that “perfect product”. For now, it is important to get a robust product out there.

5. LEAN TEAM: Trim the fat off the team. Curtail hiring. Demand more from yourself and lead by example to get your team to be more productive.

6. MOTIVATION: Everyone on the team needs to go beyond their KRA to fill in the gaps in the org structure. This requires motivation, and as the CEO, you have to keep up a positive environment to demand high performance from a smaller team.

Smart, quick and tough decisions are required to ride out these rough times. The key trait here is the ability to have a flexible mind, the ability to think and re-evaluate your options when the environment changes, and continue to retain the ability to function. There are no black and white answers. Continuing to follow conventional wisdom without understanding the context, under which it is applicable, will usually make for a poor choice.

8. BE THRIFTY: Don’t pinch pennies but spend prudently, keeping in mind your overall goals.

Be alert to changes taking place in the ecosystem, watch the competition be ready to pivot the business model as required.

10. HUMILITY: Be pragmatic about your company valuation yet confident about the potential to execute and survive with limited funding.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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