We are operating in exceptional circumstances in terms of the severity of the economic crisis with a potential for it to get much worse before it gets better. I think of it a bit like being in the deathzone in mountain climbing (something I only know from books). You really don’t want to be making an effort that’s not focused on your goal because every bit of wasted energy endangers your survival. This is true even if you are feeling suprisingly well at the moment.
What does acting like a mountain climber in the death zone mean for a startup?
First, make sure you really have a clear strategy (clear value proposition, differentiation, etc). Without that you won’t be able to evaluate which activities are in fact essential and which aren’t.
Second, do things sequentially instead of in parallel whenever possible. Time is slowing down for others as well so there is less of a rush to get things done.
Third, look at the existing activities and cut things that are not working. That could mean removing features, ending partnerships that are not productive, stopping marginal marketing activities, etc.
Fourth, expend fewer resources even on those things you do need to do. Thankfully the latter is possible because you can (re)negotiate grate rates on almost everything.
Last night I heard from an entrepreneur who managed to hire commissioned sales people at 50% less guarantee than she had originally thought and that guarantee is for a shorter period and a draw against commission (instead of a base).