Sitting in front of my computer like a big eye staring back at me, I wish there was something I could DO!  Many of you may feel the same. I understand the importance of self-isolation, but it doesn’t make it easy.  

I read the report on the simulations by the Imperial College of London.  Grim. Even with the measures we are now taking in the US, the death toll may reach 1.5 million and the number of infections grows to over 35 million.  With more aggressive actions maybe we can get that number to 1.1 million deaths and 25 million sick. With the Wuhan lock-everyone-up-for-two -months, maybe we get to 200,000 deaths.  Grim. So that means (1) several of you reading this will get the virus, and (2) with no vaccine ready for 12-18 months we will be asked to continue isolation for quite a while.

As business owners, especially ones who are trying to gain some traction before what little funding you have runs out, this must be a sobering thought.  What could you do?

The first thought I had was to be sure you are communicating with your investors and lenders.  They don’t do well in the dark. As painful as it might be, you need to communicate your situation.  Explain what is happening to your customers, your vendors, and any contract employees.   

There are some potential bright spots on the horizon.  There are low-interest business loans made available through the Small Business Administration.  Be sure you are aware of all the options there. Like the City of Sacramento’s zero-interest loans.  Moreover, your lenders may provide relaxed payment terms if you work with them early.  Don’t be the last in the door to seek this kind of concession. If you have contract or grant payment terms tied to milestones, figure out how you can legitimately reach some of those milestones to keep cash flowing.  

Second, use the time to do some tasks you otherwise have put off.  This likely includes making sure you have your expenses entered into your General Ledger and your financial statements completed and bank statements reconciled.  If you, like many, have not done this yet, it’s a good time to start. We can help you find some expert help that could give you advice by phone.

Third, do some learning, especially customer discovery. Check out Steve Blank’s Virus Survival Strategy for your Startup. Other people are likely wanting to do things to fill their days, so you may find it easier to get someone to talk to you.  Doing interviews by phone is not as good as in-person, but better than doing nothing.  

UC Davis has its Big Bang workshops available to watch.  This is a good time to see what you can learn there.

Fourth, get some exercise.  It is still okay to take a walk.  Keep active.

What can CleanStart do to help?  Take our survey! We will be putting on some Zoom video conferences and live streaming on Facebook.  We invite you to join these. Here’s what we will offer so far:

  • Sharing experiences—a community conversation.   We want to hear from all of you on what brilliant ideas you have for doing things in this crazy period.
  • Getting your accounting in shape.  We will have some folks from Moss Adams ready to answer your questions.
  • How to do customer interviews.  It all sounds pretty formidable, but we have some steps to guide you through it all.

These will be recorded and available on our website for you to view

Thomas Hall


Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStarts Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, EY, Stoel Rives 

BlueTech Valley,

College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State

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