Launching and Building a Startup During a Pandemic

Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash.

For Kevin Miller, continuing to build GR0 in the age of the Covid-19 pandemic has been anything but easy. However, as with all situations, there are some benefits that can be extracted from the hardships being faced globally, particularly with the help of modern technology.

Miller and his company are hard at work improving SEO for clients across the United States, but these tips are going to be beneficial to anyone operating a remote startup now or in the future. Be sure to evaluate these against your own needs and wants, as every startup presents unique challenges, but these are bits of advice that have been invaluable for Miller, and will likely be the same for you.

While there are some awkward situations caused by having to implement a fully remote work culture, Miller found that there were some clear advantages that could be utilized.

With GR0 being located near Los Angeles in Playa Vista, California, remote work has enabled Miller to recruit employees anywhere in the United States, which means two important things.

The first is that Miller is able to hire employees who live outside of California and therefore have lesser living expenses, so can afford lower salaries. For only 60 percent of the cost, GR0 has found employees who produce work of identical quality, meaning nothing is sacrificed.

Secondly, those who have been displaced or laid off from other positions due to the pandemic are very grateful toward anyone willing to give them a work opportunity, and are therefore willing to work to their best for you.

But, as your employees are disconnected by much larger distances than usual, it’s never been more important to invest in your company’s culture to compensate for the loss of camaraderie.

In order to compensate, Miller doubled the typical number of employee bonding and trust exercises at GR0 to help compensate for the loss of being in person. This includes weekly Zoom meetings with the entire team, weekly Zoom discussions for each department, daily stand-ups at 10 AM PST for all teams, and weekly one-on-one sessions for new employees to help them become familiar with their peers. There are other obvious opportunities beyond this, such as organizing watch parties for members of the company or even gathering virtually for group wellness sessions with meditation or yoga.

It has never been more important to be managing your cash flows, even from day one. As this pandemic has proven anything can happen at any time, preparing for the unknown needs to be a constant priority.

Ensure you always have the money on hand to last you for as long as you can and make sure you’re spending where it counts. Never be afraid to question if the spends you’re making are the right ones for you, or if they can be slimmed down somehow. This might mean keeping a closer eye on your finances personally and bothering some of your accountants from time to time, but the need for it has never been higher. If you ever feel you’re being a bit extra toward them, make a note to send them credit for a coffee house or lunch restaurant they enjoy so they look forward to your calls.

This one might be a bit painful, but there are some notable benefits to operating your business like it might end tomorrow, every single day. The sadder reality of the pandemic and a looming recession is it can be hard to actually have a firm hold on anything in the current day, so whether your urgency is driven by those around you or yourself, it is an important thing to hold onto. A lot of larger companies are likely resting on their laurels and imagining that they are secure, but your motivation to create a strong foundation can give you an edge over them.

Of course you will likely need breaks from this for your own health and sanity, so don’t destroy yourself trying to maintain your competitive edge, but find a healthy balance of the “Us vs. The World” mentality that is rightfully earned in the face of these overwhelming odds.

Finally, if you’re going to operate fully remotely, then invest in automation wherever you can. Software and service companies have begun making their shift with Work from Home in mind, so there are more quality options to help automate some processes and cut down on the amount of support staff you may need in certain departments. These investments can be expensive and feel hard on our earlier tip regarding cash flows, but these solutions are the key to scaling efficiently and gaining the most with each new hire. Additionally be sure to never become complacent with what you’re using and always keep an eye out for better, bolder, or more affordable options that can offer even greater value.

An important theme throughout all of Miller’s advice is to keenly be aware of what resources you have and how you can maximize your efficiency with them. In the world of startups, you’re going to need to try and go a long way with very little, and work from home will certainly help with that.

But you need to keep your wits about you and constantly be evaluating what you are doing and how you do it to try and spot places where further improvement can be made. This mental agility is the thing that being a smaller-scale company affords you, and is one of the more exciting elements of running a startup.

Building a startup has always been a challenge, but a worthwhile, enjoyable one worth embarking on for anyone who loves to create things with their own two hands. But the thrill and freedom it offers is unparalleled to working in a larger company, and being able to own your destiny is certainly worth the hardships.

For Miller and GR0, the journey has certainly presented some unique bumps in the road, but these obstacles were never impossible ones, and with keen thinking and smart strategy could be overcome.

—Press Release