On-demand Webinar: Being a CEO in times of COVID On-demand webinar

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What does it mean to be a CEO in the age of COVID-19?

Soldo’s CEO Carlo Gualandri joined The Family’s ‘Work From Anywhere Summit’ to talk about his experience guiding a B2B FinTech through the COVID-19 crisis

The storm came fast

At Soldo, we’d just raised our Series B round in summer 2019 and so luckily when the crisis hit we still had money in the bank – but that was just lucky timing.

However for anyone who was lucky to still have access to funds like us, you had to adjust quickly because the storm came fast and nobody knew how long it would last.

But before acting, I asked myself a question: in this ‘new normal’ does it make sense for Soldo to survive? Will our mission still be relevant? Will someone need to build what we’re doing all over again if we’re not able to make it?

Switching mentalities

In a crisis like this you have to switch mentality completely and go into hoarding mode. That means cutting every cost (like everyone did), but then you have to cut it again and again because you’ll find that you’ve never really cut costs until you’ve done it about 3 times.

We started with cutting external costs, as the priority during a crisis has to be to circle the wagons, protecting the people and infrastructure inside the company. They’re the ones who believed in you, they’re the assets you’ve spent the most time and money on developing, they are more important than anything else.

As soon as you can guarantee your company’s survival through a crisis, you must start looking for ways that you can prosper in the post-crisis moment because one thing is not going to change: you still have to grow, you are still in a race.

We next focused on new products and new markets which could not only increase revenues but fuel growth. We leaned into the changing spending behaviours of companies.

The hardest thing to understand

For us, COVID-19 is bringing in a huge transformation in companies’ digitalization and in their mindset. Inertia had always been a limiting factor and fortunately the crisis is alleviating this.

The hardest thing for us to understand as people, and so the most important thing for a CEO who needs to make good decisions, is that the world of tomorrow won’t be the world of yesterday. Maybe outside events make your message more likely to get through, but don’t sit back and wait, you’re still going to have to adjust that message. You can’t simply rely on a crisis to have perfectly aligned you with your customers’ needs. You have to re-centre on what will be, and let go of much of what was.

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