After the pandemic: The future of entrepreneurship

Library | 7/2/2020
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While the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic recession have delivered essentially a one-two punch to many small businesses, the spirit of entrepreneurship is still going strong. The Chinese word for crisis is made up of two characters – one means danger and the other means opportunity. And in fact, historically, crises such as war, pandemics and economic disasters have accelerated innovation and become a catalyst for entrepreneurs.

   

In 2003, the SARS outbreak in China caused the meteoric rise of Alibaba, which is now the largest online retailer in the world. In 2008, the global financial crisis spurred the creation of a number of new tech companies, such as AirBnB and Uber.

   

Already, we are seeing how Coronavirus is impacting nearly every aspect of American life – including how we do business. Here are 5 insights that may help entrepreneurs navigate past this crisis and prepare them for a successful future.

    
  1. Enable remote work – Many businesses transitioned to a remote workforce in March and it appears that working from home is a trend that may be here to stay. Meetings are now conducted via Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, or other video conferencing apps, and business travel has dropped off dramatically. While transitioning to a remote workforce isn’t always a seamless process, many business leaders who feared that productivity would drop have actually reported an increase instead. When you add that to the savings in real estate costs, utilities, office equipment and upkeep, you can see why some businesses have decided to make the move permanent. Entrepreneurs can help prepare themselves for future crises by enabling remote work from the start.

  2. Evolve Digitally – Companies have been forced to quickly step up their digital game – offering ecommerce experiences and apps that rival in-store experiences, and utilizing delivery services, curb-side pick-up or other “contactless” methods that ensure the safety and well-being of their customers. They may also have had to embrace digital marketing methods, such as social media or paid search, to reach their customers where they are. To accommodate remote work, some businesses have had to quickly migrate their data, processes, and systems to the Cloud. Ultimately, the entrepreneurs who capitalize on digital advances and provide innovative digital solutions to their customers’ everyday problems may be best positioned for success in the future.

  3. Adapt your business model – Businesses that relied on human contact and interaction to operate have had to get creative, often pivoting their whole business model to adapt. You’ve likely heard of the distilleries that began making hand sanitizer, or automobile plants that are now manufacturing ventilators.  Think about your customers, how their needs have changed, and whether your current products and services are meeting those needs. Be open to trying new ideas, or even completely pivoting your business, to stay relevant.

  4. Embrace new technologies – Beyond just optimizing their online experience, entrepreneurs are using the Internet of Things (IoT), drones, robots, AI and machine learning and more to build the future. Hotels, for example, are using IoT technologies to allow guests to unlock their rooms via an app, set the temperature, open the drapes, etc. This “touch free” environment gives guests convenience and control while also ensuring safety. Entrepreneurs that can harness new technologies to improve customer experience will have an advantage in the days to come.

  5. Understand changing customer behavior – Customer expectations have drastically changed since the pandemic, and many of those customer behaviors are here to stay. For example, surveys indicate that many of the people who have switched to online grocery shopping and home delivery prefer the convenience and ease and are unlikely to revert back to their old ways of shopping. And many people who were reluctant to use technology before now feel more comfortable doing so. After COVID, customers may be less likely to want to meet in person, wait in waiting rooms, stand in line, or be in large crowds, so processes and procedures will have to change to address their concerns. Smart entrepreneurs will be flexible and willing to make changes to accommodate the needs and wants of their customer.

    

At Valley, we’ve always supported people with the entrepreneurial spirit. We’re here to help you through this crisis, and we’ll be here to serve you in the future. If you need help getting back on your feet, look into our SBA lending programs, get helpful advice from our Business Insight Center, or contact us to learn more.

    
      
   
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