In times of crisis, fintech startups should take the long view instead of hibernating • TechCrunch
The fintech industry is currently facing several macroeconomic problems, including global economic inflation, skyrocketing costs of living, companies reducing their workforce, and a possible recession on the horizon, not to mention the war in Ukraine. All of these factors have caused fintech M&A exits to decline 30% in Q2 2022, the lowest point since Q3 2020.
This is not the first time the economic climate has worsened so quickly. But when we look at the industry’s overall performance compared to previous years, the current downturn is not that different. What can founders do to help their companies prosper during this period?
Hire high-performing talent
The worsening financial climate is causing leading fintech companies to suspend hiring or reduce their workforce to avoid cost overruns. The industry saw 1,619 job cuts in May, compared to 440 in the first four months of the year.
Personnel losses have also affected the Ukrainian startup ecosystem. More than one in ten startup employees in the country has had to leave their firms since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, and since then, the number of enterprises with up to five team members has risen, while companies with bigger teams are dwindling.
Nearly every founder would agree that layoffs are a hard but necessary decision to make in times of crisis, as payroll spend can be redirected towards growth or maintaining a runway. But if you take the long view and look past the current downturn, it’s likely your startup will have higher chances of survival if you hold on to specialized talent. And sometimes, hiring a new employee can bring in a new perspective that may help you detect problems within your firm.
Ukraine has a huge pool of talent, and thousands of specialists are currently searching for an exciting project to join. So instead of battening down the hatches as you face this crisis, consider it an opportunity to strengthen your company with dispersed, high-performing talent.
Develop and prove the quality of your product
Crises are also times of opportunities — you just need to look carefully to spot a golden egg. Crises give founders a chance to focus on building robust products since times like these usually highlight problems that are in need of a viable, long-term solution, and startups can go heads-down on building rather than focusing on incessant growth.
The brutal truth is that tough markets also clean up the hundreds of startups without a solid product cluttering the market. This gives top companies a chance to develop an even more extensive set of products and services.
Develop a solid strategy
To run a business sustainably, founders must direct business development and manage risk well. That’s why during times of crisis, startups that have focused on developing solid business strategies and products usually emerge to win the market from those that didn’t.
I know it’s hard to focus on developing a strategy when there are so many external factors affecting your company. But the fact is that companies that focus on strengthening their business plan and solidifying their strategy have a higher chance of bouncing back and coming out stronger than before compared to those who hibernate.
Individuals and businesses thrive in the face of crises by managing their resources, analyzing the situation they’re in, and recognizing potential opportunities regardless of the amount of noise and chaos around them.
Tough times allow teams that set big goals to recharge and look at things from a different angle. For instance, you might as yourself: What is the unique proposition of the product? What can we do to make the most out of the current market? What can we do to catapult our product even farther when the market recovers?
Despite all the setbacks, founders can excel in business by following three rules during a crisis: strengthen your staff, develop a better product, and work to solidify a business strategy. While these aren’t laws or panaceas for all problems, I’ve found them to be very effective during rough times.