COVID-19 has forced millions of companies to reassess their business models, but what about the businesses that are still just ideas in the minds of aspiring entrepreneurs? As mass layoffs and desperate bailouts dominate the news, few people are talking about what it’s like to launch a business in the current climate.
But like other crises throughout history, the coming recession will create genuine opportunities for founders. As Michael Loeb, founder and CEO of Loeb.nyc, said, “Moments like these are like forest fires. The blaze will cripple some businesses, but they will also provide the heat to release new seeds into the soil. Many amazing companies have been born from the ashes of economic downturns and market crashes.”
The 2008 housing and financial crash saw people in the U.S. seeking affordable accommodation without long-term commitments. That’s when Airbnb emerged as a cheaper and more flexible alternative to traditional housing. By 2011, Airbnb was valued at more than $1 billion.
If you think your business idea is ready for the next step, position it as a solution to emerging customer needs. Here are four tips that will help.
1. Find your niche.
Industry-defining companies like Airbnb take form during recessions. Are you able to address a unique niche right now — offering a solution to help people get through the current crisis? Alternatively, can you adapt your original idea to address that niche?
Take a moment to step back and assess the world around you. Identify the issues faced by friends, co-workers, people in the news. Envision the potential solutions to problems that aren’t being answered by what’s currently out there.
Many such niches are getting carved out amidst the current turmoil. Both healthcare and education — two of the most vital industries in any society — are seeing significant disruption. These industries need innovative reconstruction initiatives urgently. Education hadn’t been disrupted meaningfully in 100 years. Now parents and students are looking to optimize their time, online resources and teacher interactions to avoid losing months of study.
If your product or service doesn’t yet fit a current need, see if you can adapt it to fit the new normal. Conditions won’t be normalizing anytime soon — adaptability is a strength. Do you have a software product that can, for example, improve users’ videoconferencing experience, even if it wasn’t initially designed to do so? Can your service facilitate businesses’ online experiences or communications?