"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth," former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Mike Tyson once said. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has delivered a swift uppercut from the blind side that has us all reeling back from business as usual, blurry-eyed as all strategies and projections of future business are rubbished with the C-suite unsure of what’s next as its domino effect is experienced across industries.

Many human resource departments that pegged performance metrics on having physical bodies on the location are now forced to review their policies on office hours and sick leave. IT departments that frowned on implementing bring your own device programs and deployment of remote access and sharing infrastructure, citing legitimate cybersecurity concerns are now thrown into the deep end with little time and probably non-existent budget to figure out how all this will work.

That most jobs are still offline and on-site in nature, exacerbates this further, even as the work from home sirens sound.

The Business Model Canvas. Source: Strategyzer

Black swan events disrupt startup business models

Black swan events such as this pandemic reset many things, and I believe the first in line will be the business fundamentals for many sectors.

Stiff competition coupled with heavy venture capital investments have seen many businesses – both startups and established businesses, over the past few years work with unsustainable business models, chasing growth at all costs, waiting to either flip the plumped numbers to other hapless eager investors or for a projected tipping point that converts users, placing them firmly on the path of desirable customer lifetime value.

It is already a tough season for those who have identified and are serving their true north customers, as spending adjusts to the realities on the ground, primary of which are limited mobility, access to sufficient runway for daily living, and the uncertainty of the job market.

Thriving through a crisis as a startup

There are those for whom a crisis such as this presents an upside from organic uptake and drive to the eventual utility of products and services.


The Tefo Mohapi Show: Alexandre Lazarow on how to build a startup to survive tough times

You can also listen to the podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Deezer, and Stitcher.


For those who survive it, this reality check will send the C-suite back to the drawing board to temper their strategies with the hard truths from the market.

I think we will see a lot more level-headedness, where instead of a race to the bottom with pricing, bundling and value addition, teams will hedge better to bolster the immunity of the business against future shocks.

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