Sergey Vasylchuk is the Co-founder & CEO of the staking provider Everstake.
Crypto winter, recession, or bear market are just a few of quite numerous monikers that the media uses to describe the current situation.
Even though it’s not the first time this has happened, you may be confident that somebody is smugly talking about the so-called “exploded bubble” while others, with little relevance, announce yet another demise of Bitcoin (BTC), the 459th, in fact, at least at the time of writing. For those of us who have been in crypto for eight years, like me, or even more ancient creatures, it all looks painfully familiar.
As I wrote elsewhere, the market is almost a living thing that needs to breathe in order to stay alive. What some scribblers call a bear market is, in fact, the exhaling phase that once again purges pipe-dreamers and self-assigned crypto gurus into oblivion, leaving only those who are serious about working and creating actual products that the industry needs. Like it or not, the free market is pretty much Darwinist, and you must always adapt and keep a keen eye on things in order to survive or even prosper.
That said, it’s the second crypto winter for Everstake, counting the one when it was born as a company back in 2017. But how we survived them is not a unique recipe. I do suspect that if you happened to ask companies like Coca-Cola, JP Morgan, or BMW how they survived whatever life and market threw at them, they would have answered more or less the same.
So, here’s how companies survive market downturns.
Be useful and bring value
This is the first item on the list for a simple reason. Unless you actually do something useful, i.e. something people actually need or see as valuable, you will not linger on the market for long. It won’t even take a slight recession to move you away. No matter whether you offer products or services, whether you work online or in brick-and-mortar shops, whether you create or sell, it’s all the same. Unless you have usefulness that your customers can feel and value, you’re out. And if you think you have it, but your customers [disagree], then you must be seriously wrong either in estimating your usefulness or in the way you work. Either way, it’s time to stop and think.
Solve problems and anticipate risks
I believe there is no such thing as a hopeless predicament. As I often explain, any crypto entrepreneur worth their weight in Bitcoin, and, frankly, even any business owner must know that hard times are inevitable and make due preparations. We at Everstake never knew when or whence the trouble will come, but we knew it will do nonetheless. So we had lots of crisis management measures in place waiting to snap into action when winter comes. That is why I’m confident that we will not just survive another bear market, but we will also come out stronger.
So, if you’re indeed serious about your business, you will not just solve problems that inevitably happen. You will foresee them and have a solution on hand when it’s most needed. Sometimes it means really hard work.
But only those who actually work hard to solve even the most demonic cul-de-sac actually prevail.
Even if the problem is too big, the company will be able to overcome it while gaining something much more valuable: experience.
One of my favorite examples is Fujifilm. It used to be among the world’s biggest manufacturers of photo film for decades, starting as early as the 1930s. Nothing seemed to threaten its business, but they branched out nonetheless, understanding one simple truth: no matter how confident you may feel, everything can change in an instant. And so it did when digital photography came about in the early 2000s killing off an entire market of analog photography in a matter of a couple of years.
Fujifilm’s branching-out strategy worked out, however. Unlike its former arch-competitor Kodak, which drew its last breath some ten years ago, Fujifilm is still very successful nowadays selling medical imaging supplies and other highly-demanded items somewhat derivative of their original product. That’s a lesson any business should learn.
Love all your customers
Yet another pseudo-platitude that some business owners seem to ignore (and at an enormous price, I must add.) It doesn’t mean that you should feel good about your customers. It means that you must keep them in your mind. You must care about them. You must come up with something that would retain the loyal ones and bring new ones.
In other words, you must be actively involved in making them happy.
At the end of the day, it’s the customers that make your business exist in the first place. So show them how grateful you are and how much you love and respect them.
Respect your investors
Everstake never raised funds for its own sake (though we did it for Ukraine), neither from the community nor from venture investors. Still, not all companies are lucky enough to be fully independent. And even though we pride ourselves on being able to overcome our problems without outside financial help, the principles above dictate that this option is never really off the table.
Respect is the ultimate quality you need when it comes to outside investment into your company. There is a case in point that I recall every now and then. Back in 1997, Apple was devastated. It lay in ruins, a pale shadow of its former self. In a move that subsequently proved brilliant, Apple brought back Steve Jobs to resurrect them. And what he did proved that business isn’t always about banal competition. He called his frenemy Bill Gates of Microsoft and negotiated a USD 150 million investment.
Our younger contemporaries might be shocked to find out that Microsoft saved Apple from certain death, but therein lies the lesson I’m talking about.
The world today, the enormous market of applications, the very existence of smartphones as we know them—it all would have been at least very different, if only existed, if Steve Jobs and Bill Gates hadn’t shared profound mutual respect. That is what drives the entire world forward. And we must never forget that respect and agreements work miracles.
Take care of your employees
Last but not least, it’s the employees that power up your business. It’s them that actually make the business happen. And, though I already talked at length about risk and crisis management, I’ll reiterate it once again due to its crucial importance for any business. These are some of the ultimate forms of caring about your employees.
If you duly prepare yourself for winter, you don’t have to lay anybody off. You can guarantee that your employees and their families will have a brighter future.
This is what caring for your employees means. And so does creating healthy and inspiring working environment. Or ensuring their safety, such as when we started relocating our people in anticipation of the looming invasion of Russia. This is the care. Not endless sessions with so-called business coaches or corporate anthems.
My thoughts here may seem hackneyed, but what I see in real life suggests that a vast multitude of other companies just ignore some or all of those principles even though they are crucial for a company’s survival. The price for this neglect is high but simple: when the winter comes, you freeze to death. It’s the good old Aesop’s fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant. And it remains true in our days, too.