Entrepreneur, investor, and board member, Sophie Wiik has a track record of seeing solutions where others see problems. Read her advice on how to keep a positive mindset in the midst of uncertainty.
Sophie Wiik was a part of establishing Too Good To Go (Copenhagen, 2015), which is now the world's largest online marketplace for surplus food. She is the founder and previous owner of Too Good To Go Norge AS and owned and managed the company until she sold 100 % of her shares in March 2019.
She is an investor and board member of FJONG, investor in Equality Check and part of the Founder Collective in Unconventional Ventures, and is also a speaker, mentor, consultant and problem solver.
Our daily lives have in a way been flipped upside down. What positives do you see coming from this?
The Corona situation is awful, but I believe the crisis we are in now will make us realise what is important to us and teach us how we can take better care of each other and the planet, and live a more slow paced life. I feel like this is the dress rehearsal for the climate crisis. For many people this new way of living can be challenging, myself included. Family life is demanding under normal circumstances but maybe more so these days when we work from home and homeschool our kids at the same time.
It’s an uncertain situation and things can look pretty dark right now, but there is some good news. The demand for oil and gas is going down, thousands of lives are spared in China because of less pollution and better air quality and dolphins are back in the canals of Venice.
Businesses that offer services like FJONG have taken a hard hit from COVID-19. How do you plan on rebuilding your businesses once the dust has settled?
This is a hard question. The situation changes from day to day and we have no idea how long we will be shut down. But we expect at least a couple of months. This is a typical learning-by-doing situation. What we should focus on now is building a good and strong strategy and fundament to be able to come back fresh after this crisis, as well as a financial buffer. Hopefully most companies will come back to business with the same awesome teams as before.
What advice do you have for small business owners?
Under these circumstances I think it is important to get a clear overview of the economy and cut all costs possible. Be open minded and search for opportunities. Find your most creative side to be able to market your company in the cheapest way possible, and maybe tweak your business model so that it fits these times better. Look at NYBY (https://nyby.no/virusdugnaden?fbclid=IwAR3tgcMtGbZY_VzY-Dt_jt-76Fz20XnyWR7l2qtmWnWklxOgc5-uU0ku_yc) who changed their whole strategy from one day to another and now use their platform to help us all in this corona-situation. Role models!
And: ask for help. You are not alone. There are so many useful groups on Facebook for small businesses and startups right now, it’s amazing to see. Talk to your team online every day and be transparent with them.
Most importantly: Remember to rest, sleep, eat and stay healthy.
You have a track record of seeing solutions where others see problems. What is your advice to those who have been put on temporary leave?
Stay calm, slow down, listen to your body. If you have energy; get creative! I like to write at least one hour a day to get the creativity flowing, and as an exercise in stress management. Maybe now is the time to learn a new skill or work on new business ideas? If you normally work in a start up and have the capacity to do some volunteer work, do it. It will mostly be highly appreciated.
Social distancing doesn’t mean that you have to stop being social.
It is also okay to take a break. We don’t know how long this is going to last, but we know that it will pass. It is important to remember that. If you take a few weeks off without doing much it’s not the end of the world. After all, we go to work our whole lives. Who knows, maybe the world's greatest idea pops into your head in the forest on your daily walk. My feed is filled with tips and tricks on how to stay busy these days. It’s good to get inspired, but it should also be okay if you aren’t able to meditate, take a face mask, do yoga, eat raw food, go for long hikes in the mountains, try new recipes, work eight hours a day and play with your kids, all in the same day.
It is okay to feel exhausted and lack creative energy. Often it’s not the things we do that make us lose our energy, but stress related to e.g. big changes in life.
Right now many of us feel pressured because our daily life has been turned upside down. Maybe a few days not doing anything is what it takes for you to get back up again.
What do you believe are the core priorities a company should be thinking of now?
Companies are people. If your company has to lay off, let’s say, 95 % of the staff during this crisis, it’s extremely important to take care of your employees and be open and honest when communicating with them throughout this whole process. Nothing is as important as maintaining a good relationship with your team. And again, cut costs and build a financial buffer to be able to get your valuable team back again after COVID-19.
As an investor, what are your thoughts/tips on fundraising during or post the corona crisis?
There are many options. One thing you can do is to try to get some help from your bank. Some banks will offer you great deals, loans or account credits right now. Another option is to talk to your existing shareholders to see if any of them can be interested in increasing their number of shares and in that way help your company get through this crisis. Crowdfunding is also (always) a good alternative. Many consumers would love to help businesses they want to see and support in the future!
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