What we are experiencing today is unprecedented and offers us the opportunity to rethink our lives and the way we operate. Talking about our stories individually does not seem appropriate. What does seem appropriate is expressing our collective fears, anxieties, ideas and stories as we ride through this pandemic together.
by: Charles-Louis Machuron
illustration: Studio Polenta
How do we – the entrepreneurs, freelancers and startup founders – deal with the situation on a daily basis? How do we organize ourselves to work remotely? What technological tools do we use? What are the risks and opportunities for us? Are we ready to telework? Are all sectors at a standstill or does digital technology allow for the continuity of work? These are questions we’ve decided to collectively explore in this special issue.
We are all at the starting line but we may not all reach the finish line. This is precisely why we have to stick together, support each other, and ask for help (if needed) to get through this crisis.
“The fear I have is around the economic impact the crisis will have if it continues for an extended period of time. We honestly do not know what the impact will be and that is scary. It might be negative and clients could delay investments in technology and digital transformation. On the other hand, it could also serve as a wake-up call for institutions to realise that the manual, old-fashioned way of working is no longer viable. Let’s hope it’s the latter.”
– Bert Boerman, Governance.com
“My business is completely physical as everything is based on getting people to hang out. This was my biggest fear added to the fact that since the beginning of March, all our events were cancelled. Essentially this means no revenue but wages still need to be paid. It is simple.
How many months can you stay alive? Confinement. No events. No social life. And, the crisis on top of it all. How will people react? Where will we get the budget to promote social life, events and restaurants? Honestly, the uncertainty is scary. Do we need to fight? Alternatively, do we just wait it out by staying at home? (I have the answer :-))”
– eLfy Pins, Supermiro + Helloboss
“We are not as afraid about the coming weeks as we should probably survive; the main question is when will this crisis be over. Like every other business, we have been drastically impacted and have probably lost up to 80% of our activity volume (mainly linked to restaurants, offices, and concierges); but we have managed to maintain a tiny share of activity even with our customers being at home.
Perhaps this situation can bring with it some new opportunities (especially with the current quarantine and the need for people to maintain good sanitary conditions). My main concern is about the shortfall we will register during this period. March to July is generally the busiest season for us where we have two-digit growth rates and I’m afraid that won’t be the case this time.”
– Antoine Hron, Klin
“I remember facing a similar situation back in 2002 at the very beginning of my career as a digital business founder when funding for marketing and digital projects were reduced by most institutional players after the frenetic ‘internet bubble’ growth. It took a few years until their appetite came back. It also happened – to a lesser extent – in 2008-2009.
With COVID-19, the economic impact might be much bigger, especially if the current situation were to last for a few months. This could be a toxic situation for the digital industry as a whole, especially for those focusing on B2B products and services that rely on their clients’ investments. For our companies Finologee and Mpulse, our business lines should not be affected directly in the short term as we provide digital channels and features our clients use to operate their businesses. Nevertheless, a longer downturn would have an impact on our sales.
I am also concerned about the impact isolation will have on the social cohesion of our team. We’ve got to give them the comfort they seek and make sure we’ve got their backs (and tell them we do), even though my co-founders and I are also being subject to our own challenges.”
– Raoul Mulheims, Finologee
“Lockdown is OK for a few days or maybe a few weeks. But, will this be a temporary crisis or are we entering an economic recession? As our company provides capital markets solutions, an economic crisis would drastically shake our industry. In the short term, our customers will probably fear launching new projects. And, in the mid-term, I think many financial institutions will reconsider how they work today and possibly be more interested in our blockchain solutions.”
– Luc Falempin, Tokeny Solutions
Fear is an inherent part of entrepreneurship. My fellow-entrepreneurs and startups know this very well. How will we pay salaries next month? In 6-months time? What’s new about this question though? Overcoming fears, pushing yourself to think ahead, acting instead of falling into uncertainty – these are the tasks I’d recommend for all managers.
– Gosia Kramer, The Office
It will take years to recover. Millions will be unemployed & the virus will still spread. So far, all the government financial help is putting greater debt on the companies. This will just delay a massive bankruptcy wave which will come months after the virus dies down.”
– Tom Wecker, Livraison.lu & TWPM Group
“From a macro perspective, I fear social unrest the most. After weeks of confinement, people might not feel the need to comply with “Stay Home” policies any longer. This might lead to dramatic scenarios amplifying the growing economic/financial impact.”
– Marzio Schena, ANote Music
“Let’s face it, the future is uncertain for everyone right now and if there is one thing we are greatly fearful of- it’s uncertainty. In response, I think as founders, we need to work hard to focus on the things we can influence. If we start to clump all our fears into one huge basket, the basket will appear impossible to get out of. I am not saying it is going to be easy; I do however think it is a time when it is extremely important to break things down and understand what we can and cannot control.”
– Genna Elvin, Tadaweb
“Warrigal is going through a very difficult time right now. Since the beginning of the week, I have been receiving rather negative e-mails and phone calls. When the development projects are not cancelled, they are either scaled down or postponed indefinitely. My biggest fear is that this situation will drag on and lead to a catastrophic result for me and my team.”
– Johnny Lagneau, Warrigal
Read Part I: Working Remotely
Read Part II: Tech Tools Used
Read Part IV: Issues
Read Part V: Opportunities
Read Part VI: 24 Hours In A Life Of An Entrepreneur
Read Part VII: How To Face The Crisis Personally
Read Part VIII: How To Face The Crisis Professionally
Read Part IX: How To Keep The Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive
This article was first published in Silicon Luxembourg magazine (special Covid edition “Hope”). Download now.