How to start a successful business during COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed the way we do business, but don’t let that keep you from getting your piece of the pie.

 

In July 2020, as we all came to grips with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anthony Criniti in Entrepreneur magazine described this grave time for entrepreneurs: “Other than operating a business directly in a war zone, these are some of the most challenging times to be an entrepreneur.” 

While today’s unstable situation poses challenges that we haven’t seen before, starting a sustainable business has always been difficult. Read any book ever written about being an entrepreneur, and the author will tick off the high rates of failure. 

Unfortunately, these same scribes also share fairytale-esque versions of someone who overcame immense challenges and obstacles to start a successful business. And that is just as worrisome.  

Despite these shared misconceptions, simple tools for starting a business exist and this time  now, during COVID-19  may be opportune for getting a new business going. So, why start a business now? 

1. Our world is different right now and people are paying attention to their most essential needs. Can your business meet one of these essential needs?  

2. The business landscape is changing rapidly. The United States had nearly 30.7 million businesses prior to the pandemic, and small businesses made up 99 percent of those. Today, 25 to 50 percent of those small businesses are closing because of the pandemic. An entrepreneur who is paying attention may find a niche.

Now, more than ever, businesses must consider how to serve their customers. Here’s a quick guide to being an entrepreneur or starting an online business: 

ListenYou must listen. A lot. Listen to yourself and to many others and especially to people who are smarter than youNo one can listen too much. Because of the pandemic, our needs and problems have changed. Learn about people’s pain points  what their needs are — and then provide a solution. This is a way to realize success.   

One little secret: Don’t ask your friends if they like your ideait usually elicits a yes. (Think about how many political pollsters have been wrong in the last five years.) Instead, ask people to describe their pain points and then listen, without providing answers. This is a valuable skill for developing a better solution. 

Do your research. The online space is busy. Think of all the pop-up ads you see. What would make you click on one? Therein lies the key to starting a business. Research your business idea carefully.  

Anticipate change. During the pandemic, we all must question what we think we know. The future of work likely will change. We will continue to see particularly acute needs arise out of the pandemic. Human connection (and the lack thereof) will lead them all. (Note how quickly Zoom changed our lives this year, and how safety and security have become important issues. 

Innovation often helps us zero in on what matters most in our lives, like seeing friends (in person) and navigating a healthy work-life balance. Our new problems require new, innovative solutions. A successful entrepreneur, online or otherwise, will start right there.  

Network. Find new people with whom to connect about your innovative idea. Successful entrepreneurs take advantage of their pre-existing networks and develop new connections, then they move swiftly. 

This upside-down world in which we live is the perfect place in which to present a golden business idea. Commit to that, for now. The trick is to have a great idea, know how to execute on it, and launch the business quickly.  

Get started. There are two ways to start a business: Sell the idea you generate or provide a solution to a problem.  Regis University’s Anderson College of Business and Computing supports the latter method — often called the “problem-solution fit” — by helping entrepreneurs solve the world’s needs and by sustaining businesses. Genuinely addressing another’s problems — not your own — is foundational for success, and it’s needed now more than ever.  


The Innovation Center in the Anderson College of Business and Computing hosts an annual business competitionthe Regis Innovation Challenge, to help entrepreneurs put their ideas into action.  For more information, visit https://www.regisinnovationchallenge.com/.

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