Amid the Covid–19 outbreak, startups are especially vulnerable as they don’t have the disposable funds to compensate for severe losses.

While many early-stage ventures assume they can’t survive the economic downturn, there is still hope amid the crisis. Further still, there is potential for startups to grow during this time.

Looking backward is the best proof—over half the companies on the Fortune 500 were founded during a recession or negative market. For example, HubSpot was a tiny startup during the 2008 financial collapse but was able to scale throughout the recession. And today it’s worth billions.

Here’s how startups can scale during crises by learning from past hardships, and addressing new consumer demands and market shifts.

1. Snag top talent:

Unemployment often peaks during crises—currently, 47 million people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. However, this drop means there is a higher availability of top-tier talent to approach. People who were previously unattainable are now within reach and are likely to be searching for new opportunities. Of course, the situation has to be handled with sensitivity—but as one door closes, another can open, and your startup can actively contact people who benefit the business and vice versa.

Highly skilled and experienced candidates can be used in crucial roles like sales or strategy development to ensure your startup operates effectively. Chances are, if top-tier talent comes on board with your company now, they’ll stay on a long-term basis having helped steer the ship through a particularly challenging course.

2. Reframe your biz:

Another opportunity for your startup is to reassess your value proposition. Ask yourself if the product or service you provide is a luxury or a necessity. If the answer is the former, consider ways that you can reframe it into a necessity.

Crises are when consumers prioritize what they need, not what they want, so you have to provide genuine value. You could do this by offering free subscriptions or a discount for people who are most affected by the crisis, like healthcare professionals, supermarket employees, or construction workers. Some education startups have undergone significant growth because they are giving free access to e-learning platforms for students.

3. More customer support:

Be sure to prioritize your existing customers before moving on to acquire new customers. You can’t scale if you’ve not got a solid foundation of happy clients.

Move resources into customer support and ensure all team members are checking-in with clients on a regular basis. Highlight accounts that are in danger of churning and find a way to solve their problems. This could be sending them extra support materials, connecting them with people in your network, or simply being available outside of office hours.

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4. Review spending:

Crises normally demand cutbacks across all industries and businesses. Reviewing what is and isn’t a worthy expense can put your startup in a significantly better position to scale. A crisis provides a snapshot of the weaknesses your company has and amplifies them; moreover, it gives you the chance to fix those weaknesses. If there was anything you were doubtful about before the pandemic struck, now is the time to take action.

Be brutally honest when looking at your expenses and ask yourself tough questions: where has the company been indulgent? What is essential but can be trimmed without too much damage? What is a reversible cut (hardware, subscriptions) and what is an irreversible cut (firing in-demand team members).

Once you know how much money you have left to work with, make a detailed plan about where finances should be focused. This ties in to reassessing your value proposition. Using feedback from people who have stayed with your startup, target customers with similar personas and be sure to communicate why you’re a necessity in the crisis. Remember to tailor all your processes with a people-centric focus—the more empathetic and connected you are, the more likely you’ll see traction.

5. Utilize financial support:

Albin Serviant, chief executive of Founders Factory, believes that “when the wind turns and skies turn grey, as a startup you need to mind your costs and come back to the basics of cash management”. These words ring particularly true during the virus outbreak. The reality is, most startups are having to make cuts and save money. If you’re in a position where cuts aren’t sufficient, there are support channels to help.

Governments and organizations know the importance of startup ecosystems in the greater economy. As a result, they are providing resources to back startups during difficult times. Seek these out.

By easing cash flow and day-to-day costs, this kind of financial support is improving the chances of startups’ success.

Looking to the future

Recognizing when to scale is crucial to any startup. Even in times of stability, up to 70% of startups scale-up too early and fail as a result. Founders have to be aware of their company position during crises—staying afloat may be a more viable option than trying to scale.

That said, it’s important to acknowledge that there is a possibility to scale even in the most pressing market conditions. By seizing new opportunities, championing your startup as a necessity, reviewing spending, and accepting support where it’s offered, your startup can flourish. Better still, in the wake of crises, there is typically a wave of funding poured into industries, so startups that have already scaled are poised for even greater success.

Jeremy is a serial entrepreneur, derivatives trader, and author.