Start a Business During COVID-19? YES!
In the era of COVID-19, does it make sense to start a business?
Well, according to a recent article published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Jeremy Shoykhet, founder of New York based delivery service SuperFast states, “While there are certainly some incredible challenges launching any business right now, the opportunity is also ripe to launch a new business. The disruption caused by COVID has triggered people to rethink their entire lives, providing a unique window of opportunity to offer new and exciting brands and services to consumers.
The opportunities are there, so yes it makes sense. The Chamber went on to say that businesses such as…
- Cleaning services. Many people and businesses are turning to professional cleaning services that can safely and effectively sanitize homes, offices, and restaurants.
- Delivery services. With many staying home and avoiding nonessential outings, people are increasingly relying on delivery. Retail delivery, as well as food, grocery, and meal prep delivery, are seeing particularly strong demand.
- Fitness equipment and online fitness classes. Most gyms and fitness studios have limited in-person capacities right now, so consumers are turning to fitness equipment companies and virtual classes to stay fit without leaving the house.
- Landscaping/yard care companies. Rather than going out or on vacation, people are spending more time at home with family or hosting smaller outdoor get-togethers. As a result, landscaping and yard care companies are seeing even more business than usual.
… are thriving during COVID-19.
And if you’re considering a startup for scale. Forbes Magazine lists industries such as
- SaaS (Software as a Service)
- Collaboration Software
- And Health Tech
as real opportunities.
Regardless of industry, business type, or size, the keys to being successful in business during COVID-19 are:
Focus on Solving Problems (Don’t be product or service-centric)
Your dream may be to create a business wear fashion line (business suits, women business dresses, etc.) However, consumer needs are different. They are working from home in more relaxed, less formal circumstances and their clothing choices reflect that (i.e., casual, leisurewear, etc.).
The point is, do not become wedded to the dream, but connect with solving a problem/meeting a need that will make your business successful.
Identify Gaps That Your Competition Is Not Addressing
Kpelle Designs owner Gwanyan Barker recognize more women were wearing turbans, however, the mask requirement made it inconvenient for them to wear them comfortably. She created the “EarSaver” which eliminates a problem that no one else addresses.
Commit to Learning How the Money Works
A former director of the SBA identified the biggest problem for new business owners as not understanding how the money works. If the money does not work, the business does not work. When COVID-19 hit, a large percentage of business owners did not understand basic business financial fundamentals and did not have adequate financial records which resulted in:
- Inability to apply for or qualify for financial assistance grants and loans
- Inability to make the necessary financial adjustments to survive the reduction or loss of revenue
- Inability to describe or demonstrate their issues and needs to organizations and professionals who could help them
Learn from COVID-19
I spoke to several clients about what they learned from COVID-19. Here’s their take on running a business during COVID.
I have spent the past few months focusing on making our business stronger in business fundamentals (i.e., establishing key performance indicators, tightening our processes for remaining connected to our customers, sharpening our ability to identify customer problems and needs).
You have to offer multiple channels for customers to access your products/services. When one channel is down (e.g., brick and mortar retail stores), you want to have other channels (i.e. e-Commerce, Social Media).
It’s important to have flexibility and adaptability built into a business model. Pivoting is one thing, being able to execute it is another. An example of flexibility/adaptability in my model is hiring people who have the ability to do more than one thing. That way we can adjust on the fly.
A “New Normal”
How we do business has been dramatically changed as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, coining the phrase “New Normal”.
However, despite the challenges – and there are many, opportunities will emerge as we work our way through and out of the pandemic.
For entrepreneurs and startup business owners with imagination and grit, the new normal gives rise to new and more agile business models, new products, and new or enhanced services.
Obviously, not every business will be able to pivot or even survive. Yet, the resiliency of the marketplace and the desire of individuals to succeed will prevail in the long run.
With that said, for startups, and understanding of fundamental business principles will still be important.
Now more than ever, distinguishing your business from the competition will be key to not only surviving but thriving.
Knowing who your competitors are, and how they are doing business in the marketplace will be invaluable in making sure that your business serves its clients best.
And lastly, the money. Whether it’s crowdfunding, PPP, or savings, understanding how to make the best financial decisions will determine the survivability of small businesses.
While all of our students and graduates have been impacted by the pandemic, most continue to serve their customers and thrive.