On October 25, Bolster hosted the fourth installment in the Navigating Choppy Water series. Focused on “The Path to Profitability,” our panelists shared their insight and experiences on managing finances during tricky economic times.
- Frank Alfano is the Chief Revenue Officer at Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Frank is also an entrepreneur who founded and sold Mercury Energy, founded MTM Technologies, was CRO at MakerBot Industries, and was CEO of Interliant.
- Laura Mather is a board director, former CEO, and entrepreneur with expertise in go-to-market strategy, fundraising, and executive coaching. She founded, grew, and sold two global enterprise software companies—Silver Tail Systems, Inc., and Talent Sonar.
Both speakers are seasoned executives, with extensive experience in managing businesses and fostering fiscal stability. During the discussion they shared their practical advice for navigating through a dynamic market, making decisions about where to spend, and balancing risk versus reward.
Stay Cash Conservative
A common theme throughout the Navigating Choppy Waters series has been the need for a reserved cash flow strategy. Many leaders are in the precarious position of not knowing when they’ll be able to raise their next round, meaning it’s imperative to make the most of existing resources.
Additionally, for those who are considering raising a round, it’s important to note that many VCs are looking for cash conservative stances that will protect their investment.
This doesn’t mean cutting cash flow entirely, of course. Your business still has to operate to be successful. It means your team needs to be extremely clear on what expenses are important for the business—and which expenses can wait or be eliminated entirely. “You can’t cut your way to success,” Frank commented.
Now is the time to be extremely thoughtful about where you reduce efforts and where you build.
Establish Clear Priorities
Laura recommends shifting your perspective to look at challenges as advantages. You can (and should) hone your focus in turbulent times. Hold fast to your priorities, examine your results, and say no to efforts that don’t truly advance your goals.
“The nice-to-haves, you have to cut those out,” Frank said. “Prioritize the have-to-haves. Now is the time to ask, what do we really need?” Now is the time—when everyone is aware of the challenges your team faces—to establish boundaries and expectations for your business.
If you are considering raising your next round, it’s vital to have a clear reason. In times like these—really, anytime—it should be crystal clear to investors what you plan to do with your new round and what the potential returns are for them.
The question on everyone’s mind should be: What’s truly necessary for success?
Choose Calculated Risks
In business, and in the startup world in particular, leaders are always calculating risk of some sort. In early stages, Laura says, everything is a risk.
Some risks are worth taking. During current times, our panelists emphasized the need to prioritize the areas where you take risks. Once you make a decision, stay engaged in order to minimize your ongoing risk. Attentively measure results, adjust practices to maximize returns, and be ready to make a move or cut an idea off if it turns out to be ineffective.
Finding Executive Talent
If your team is looking for executive talent to help lead through the current economic climate, Bolster can help. Sign up for a free client account now. If you’re looking to bolster your career, sign up as a member.
Did you miss the event? That’s totally fine—the recording is available and only 30 minutes long! Find it here: https://content.bolster.com/speakerseries
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