While many companies are fighting to stay afloat during the pandemic, others are struggling for a different reason.
Some businesses are experiencing a sudden surge in demand because their services are even more necessary during the pandemic. If this spike in business is not handled correctly, it can sink a startup.
Thankfully, there's a group of founders with experience managing a rapid uptick in sales: Shark Tank entrepreneurs. Founders who appear on Shark Tank, regardless of whether or not they got a deal, typically see a sharp increase in interest after their episodes air. If managed well, companies can see their revenues double or even triple that year.
Shark Tank veterans such as Bombas co-founder David Heath, Wicked Good Cupcakes co-founder Tracey Noonan, and LuminAID co-founder Andrea Sreshta shared their tips for weathering large bumps in business.
1. Transparency is the best policy.
After sock startup Bombas (No. 165 on 2019's Inc. 5000) appeared on Shark Tank in 2014, Heath learned to post messaging on the company's site to communicate any possible delays in shipping. The transparency ensures customers don't have a false set of expectations about their deliveries, he says. He encourages founders who are experiencing increases in sales to establish something similar. In fact, this is a policy Bombas uses around major shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
2. Reinvest in your business.
Use any boost in revenue to pay off debts, create a rainy-day fund, or reinvest in your company, advises Wicked Good Cupcakes' Noonan. (The jarred cupcake startup claimed the No. 2854 spot on 2017's Inc. 5000).
Additionally, use this change in business to establish better contingency planning, says Sreshta, the co-founder of rechargeable and waterproof lantern startup LuminAID. For example, see where there may be interruptions in your supply chain and establish plans if you can't ship certain products, she adds.
3. Make a new playbook.
Use this opportunity to create a checklist or template for how to handle future surges in business, says Sreshta, who appeared on Shark Tank in 2015. "Consider making a list of best practices," she adds, "so when things get busy or overwhelming, you have an established playbook for how to handle everything."
4. Thank your team.
An influx in sales can be great for your bottom line, but it's likely causing an uptick in work for your employees, says Heath. Make sure you communicate what's going on to your staff and thank them for the additional effort, he adds.
"Outline the steps that you're taking as a leader to help alleviate the extra pressure," Heath says, "so they can see there's a light at the end of the tunnel."
5. Maintain your work-life balance.
It may be tempting to respond to every email or take every call, but founders must make sure they don't burn out, says Heath. Taking time for yourself---whether that's 30 minutes for dinner with your family, exercise, or meditation--also shows your staff that you value personal time, he adds.
6. Invest in your new normal.
The future of doing business is unknown, but founders should invest in their new normal, Heath says. For example, if your staff is overloaded, consider hiring temporary workers. Or explore outsourcing parts of your business to alleviate some of the pressure.
"Find whatever the balance is that feels right for you," Heath says. "There is no formula, it's instinctual."