What is the one thing we have more of than ever before during the coronavirus pandemic? Time. Leverage that time to do everything it takes to start a business: research target customers’ demographics, analyze audience data, learn new skills, and study possible directions for the new business to take. While it may not be the optimal time to actually open a small business, you, too, can learn how to begin planning to start a small business – even during the hardest times. Here’s how:
First, Take a Walk on the Sunny Side of the Street
At Nova Custom Label Printing, we’ve always been about taking life’s lemons and making lemonade out of them. In fact, we’ve started a charitable organization, Rise Up Eight, whose mission it is to encourage people to rise up again, even after they’ve fallen seven times.
That’s why we see great potential for those people who are willing to “direct their feet to the sunny side of the street,” to paraphrase the old song. When people start to see the positive side of their challenges, they have what it takes to learn how to start a small business – even during a pandemic. In fact, now might just be the perfect time to start a new business!
Next, Assess Skills and Match them to Potential Customers’ Needs
What skills do the potential business owners have? Make a list of all the talents and skills all the stakeholders can put to use in a new business.
Once that list is ready, look at the local community and beyond. Assess target customers’ demographics, pain points (both now and post-crisis), and match them to the business owners’ skills.
To make sure that the business isn’t just a pandemic pop-up, look for skills that can carry the business well beyond the present time. Jot down ways that those skills can meet these customers’ needs in the future
The new business can, of course, use those skills to meet its target customers’ present needs during the present crisis. For example, a sewing business could make masks during the coronavirus pandemic, but then pivot to making custom-tailored dresses, business suits, and doing repairs after the crisis winds down.
A tutoring service could teach parents how to homeschool their children while school was shut down, but expand its services to helping students with special needs or learning differences better understand what they’re learning in school once school goes back in session.
When the people who want to start a business begin to look at their possibilities in and beyond the present crisis, learning how to start a small business becomes much easier.
Starting a Small Business on a Shoestring Budget
One of the most devastating non-medical side effects of the coronavirus was its effects on the economy. From some of the lowest unemployment numbers in history to some of the highest in only a few months, this virus has left Americans and their businesses strapped for cash.
The good news (remember – we’re in the “lemonade” business) is that starting a small business doesn’t necessarily need a lot of money. In fact, if those people who want to start a business are flat broke, that’s OK. They can use what they have – plus their creativity – to create and grow a successful business.
Look at Airbnb. Someone once got the idea that they could combine their expertise in app development (free, once one’s college loans are paid) with vacant rooms in homes (free) to create a business. As the business grew, it became a national – and then an international –powerhouse, competing with all the major hotel chains for business.
How about that store manager who took out his frustration with the forced store clothing by learning how to sew? That stress-busting hobby brought out a talent he didn’t even know he had. Using scraps of fabric that his wife tossed into a basket, he sewed masks to protect people from spreading the virus. Soon, he had a few friends and family members buying masks from him. After Facebook did its magic, his mask-making business that he started from scratch was earning big money. Necessity may be the mother of innovation, but learning new skills is a helpful big brother that kicks the business in the pants and jumpstarts its growth.
Starting a small business doesn’t mean that you have to have a slick website, a marketing agency on retainer, and a catchy tagline and logo. Quite to the contrary. Starting a small business is all about using what one has to deliver what others want and need.
Open a Small Business that’s Soothes People’s Fears
As the Financial Post points out, many people, particularly the most vulnerable, are afraid to go out to shop for groceries and other essentials. Double that reluctance if they live in a hotspot.
Entrepreneurs who open a small business that relieves these fears stand to make a great deal of money. E-commerce businesses that sell staple groceries and other necessities, provided that they make good on their promise to sanitize packages, maintain social distancing, and take their workers’ temperatures can provide the kind of personalized promise that the big names, like Amazon and DoorDash, can’t.
Similarly, those entrepreneurs that open a small business that makes healthcare and hygiene products, such as hand sanitizer and ventilators, are exploding upon the business horizon. Craft beverage distillers have taken on side gigs as sanitizer factories, while other manufacturers have turned their facilities into places where personal protective equipment (PPE) fly out at an amazing rate.
Non-profits, too, have sprung up to handle the demand for services during the pandemic. Happy Bark, a Pennsylvania-based pet adoption facility, has reimagined its adoption process to handle most of its business online. From online application forms and contracts to virtual interviews and video home visits, it allows approved adopters to choose their pets and pay the adoption fee, all without seeing a human or animal face-to-face until volunteer transporters bring them to the pickup spot.
Masked support people help the adopters load their chosen animal into their car. The person-to-person contact occurs in about a five-minute time span. Not only are they meeting the needs of homeless animals, but they’re also bringing the new owners a source of unconditional love amid a stressful national crisis.
After you open a small business or non-profit that meets your customers’ needs during the pandemic, you’re likely to find that your customers’ loyalty lasts well beyond the end of the crisis. This loyalty will likely lead to word-of-mouth recommendations, which will, in turn, result in growth. When the crisis passes, take advantage of the opportunity for further growth with promotional material that can help your customers spread the word. To learn more about how you can grow your small business, get in touch with the Nova Custom Printing team today.