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Becoming an Entrepreneur & Starting a Small Business After the Pandemic

As we begin to see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic approaching, aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners are surveying the economic wreckage and asking themselves some hard questions.

How has my economy been affected? What kinds of risks does a business owner face in a post-pandemic environment? After seeing many small businesses collapse so quickly, and huge companies stepping in to fill many former entrepreneurial niches, is starting a small business after the pandemic a good idea?

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The answers to those questions depend on many different factors. But as to whether becoming an entrepreneur after the pandemic is a good idea? The answer is yes, it is! If you are inspired to become an entrepreneur, and you have a great idea and passion for starting a small business, this time may present some of the greatest opportunities for entrepreneurship that we will see in our lifetimes.

How have things changed for post-pandemic entrepreneurs?


Since the pandemic, Americans seem to have been bitten by the entrepreneurship bug. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, applications for employer identification numbers (EINs) have almost doubled since prior to the start of the pandemic. That includes workers who may have been laid off from other jobs, as well as freelancers and gig economy workers who decided to start their own businesses, along with companies that traditionally employ other people, such as restaurants or delivery services.

US Census Bureau - Number of New Businesses June 2021

As states and cities reopen, there has been a rush of activity of new business openings and re-openings which were held in check by pandemic restrictions. However, the ongoing spread of the virus, along with the already extended duration of Covid lock-downs, has led to more sustained changes in consumer behavior that we can expect to persist into the future.

This has disrupted revenue streams for many industries, especially businesses which rely on large numbers of people gathering in one place, such as hospitality, entertainment, and dining. At the same time, it has created spaces for startups and entrepreneurs to fill with new types of products and services which cater to the changing consumer environment.

Small business success stories during covid


It’s easy to get distracted by all the bad news about small businesses closing and people losing their livelihoods during Covid, but there are countless stories of small businesses that successfully launched or pivoted, filling old gaps and new niches created by the pandemic. Here are a few success stories that have been highlighted in the media recently which could help to inspire your own offering.

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Backyard Bicycles – Mobile bicycle repair service

Ian Oestreich was a fitness trainer who was laid off by the gym he worked for in Madison, Wisconsin. Rather than simply wait for the situation to improve, he decided to take matters into his own hands, literally. He noticed that people stuck at home or working remotely during the pandemic were using their bicycles a lot more, so he took his knack for fixing bikes and started Backyard Bicycles.

Ian’s overhead was low, investing only about $1,000 in tools and equipment. He operated from friends’ yards and front porches around Madison, and posted his availability on social media. The service was a huge success, and you can read more about Ian’s story in the Wall Street Journal.

QuickHire – Online hiring platform for industry and skilled trade workers

CNBC recently highlighted Angela Muhwezi-Hall and Deborah Gladney, two sisters in Wichita, Kansas who saw the perfect opportunity for a new business in light of so many others getting shut down. Their inspiration was what they saw as the antiquated hiring process used by many companies, and decided to innovate a solution: an online platform called QuickHire.

The sisters left their jobs as a university student advisor and public relations consultant, respectively, using personal funds and later a cash injection from an angel investor to get QuickHire off the ground. Their timing was perfect, with millions of people losing their jobs and having to reskill, as well as the ongoing labor shortage that many companies are now facing after the pandemic.

MINO Charleston – Face masks and clothing items

After their mother Tina experienced an allergic reaction to a face mask, siblings Yasmina and Nour Bizri of Charleston, South Carolina decided to develop masks for the family to wear. The brother and sister had recently graduated college but their summer internships were canceled due to Covid, and the whole family suddenly had a lot of time on their hands.

The family marketed their designs under the name MINO Charleston on Instagram and Facebook Marketplace, and before long they were getting bulk mask orders from as far away as New York and London. Recognizing that the pandemic won’t last forever, they have expanded their product line to include things like lanyards and other clothing items that will have additional staying power. USA Today has a great writeup on the family and how they were able to succeed as entrepreneurs during the pandemic.

Unpredictability and black swan events


For aspiring entrepreneurs, any new business venture must be approached with a clear vision, a strong drive to succeed, and lots of research. Having a well-thought-out business plan is a great start, but that should be considered the foundation of your business, not something written in stone. As covid taught us, things can change very quickly, sometimes overnight, perhaps on a very large scale, as with a global pandemic. If your business is going to stay robust and adaptable in challenging situations, it’s important to look at all the angles.

Business Survival Rate Over Time

Remember, any business can fail, and data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that around half of new businesses do fail within the first five years. But part of being a successful entrepreneur is anticipating potential pitfalls, as well as being prepared to weather unexpected events. Covid was what is known as a “black swan event”, or something unpredictable with a lasting, long-term effect. Though unlikely, black swan events like market crashes, natural disasters or global virus outbreaks do happen from time to time, and knowing that is just one of the risks you take as a business owner.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared to endure and even take advantage of rapidly changing situations. One person’s disaster is another entrepreneur’s opportunity. And as businesses such as brick-and-mortar retail, already hard hit by the rise of online purchasing, continue to recede into the background, new types of businesses made possible by the digital revolution and changes in traditional industries are exploding onto the scene.

10 great ideas for starting a new business after the coronavirus pandemic


If you’re striking out on your own, or looking at starting over after Covid, there are lots of great ideas for starting a new small business. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting entrepreneurial opportunities in a post-pandemic world.

Entrepreneurship - Starting Small Business - Delivery and Driving Services Job

Delivery service

People turned to home delivery in a big way during the pandemic, and quickly discovered the benefits of having just about everything delivered. While many people will return to in-person purchasing for some things, they will likely continue to have many more items delivered than ever before.

Entrepreneurship - Starting Small Business - E-Commerce Online Shopping Etsy Job

E-commerce

This is probably the most obvious benefit of the digital economy, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Starting a website and an online store is easier and cheaper than ever, and if you are promoting your own goods or reselling other products online, there is no better way than online commerce is for reaching customers.

Entrepreneurship - Starting Small Business - Freelance Copywriter Job

Freelance copywriter

This is probably the most obvious benefit of the digital economy, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Starting a website and an online store is easier and cheaper than ever, and if you are promoting your own goods or reselling other products online, there is no better way than online commerce is for reaching customers.

Entrepreneurship - Starting Small Business - Online Fitness and Wellness Job

Online fitness & wellness

The popularity of fitness videos and explainer videos about health, wellness, and cooking skyrocketed during the pandemic. As the world reopens, much of this activity will return to the gym, but people who enjoy working out and managing their health at home will continue to turn to this highly valuable resource.

Entrepreneurship - Starting Small Business - Transcriber Translator Job

Transcription & translation

If you have a good ear, are a fast typist, or speak another language, and you enjoy working by yourself, this is the perfect job for you. You can start your own service or find this type of work easily with online freelancing platforms, and there is constant demand from many industries and different regions of the world.

Entrepreneurship - Starting Small Business - Online Teaching and Tutoring Job

Online teaching & tutoring

Online teaching technology and applications were forced to scale up and improve dramatically in quality and ease of access during covid, and have become almost ubiquitous today. Even if you don’t work for a school, starting your own tutoring service is a great option if you like working with children or adult learners. Online teaching is also especially popular for language learning.

Entrepreneurship - Starting Small Business - Freelance Consultant Job

Consulting service

Many people, especially long-term professionals, have expert knowledge in a particular industry or vertical that other companies and individuals are in need of. If you have expertise in a specific area, your skills are likely in high demand. Start by reaching out to companies you think might be interested in your services, or build a website or social media presence to start connecting with interested clients.

Entrepreneurship - Starting Small Business - Social Media Digital Marketing Job

Social media & digital marketing

As more companies and entrepreneurs move partially or entirely online, digital marketing has become the most important way of getting your product or service in front of potential customers. Learning about SEO, online advertising, or social media marketing is one of the most broadly applicable skills for marketing professionals.

Entrepreneurship - Starting Small Business - App Developer Job

App developer

Smartphone and mobile device penetration are growing every day, and the demand for app developers along with it. If you have a great idea for the next killer app, but can’t or don’t want to pay someone to build it for you, with a little computer knowledge you can create apps yourself. Tools for app development have gotten very advanced, and depending on the functionality you want to create, you might not even need any programming knowledge.

Entrepreneurship - Starting Small Business - Vritual Assistant Job

Online virtual assistant

A service that is growing in popularity for busy professionals and high net worth individuals is the online personal assistant, or virtual assistant. You might spend a morning arranging one client’s travel, and the afternoon organizing documents or scheduling appointments for another. Most tasks other than physical errands (like picking up groceries or dry cleaning) can be done online, and this could be a great business if you enjoy multitasking and juggling clients’ needs.

Post-covid tips for entrepreneurs with established small businesses


Finally, while many small businesses did survive the pandemic, those entrepreneurs are wondering how the changed business and economic landscape will affect them, and how best to pivot to embrace new opportunities. While this will depend largely on your industry, your product or service offering, and customer base, there are a few areas that any small business can focus their attention in order to be successful in a post-pandemic environment.

Prioritize work-life balance for yourself and your employees

One of the biggest revelations of the pandemic has been that a majority of people were experiencing high rates of burnout from working long hours and spending time away from their personal lives, their families and loved ones. Waves of renunciations from large companies by workers unwilling to return to the old ways of working are evidence enough of this. And as entrepreneurs, many of us find that we are required to dedicate a huge majority of our time to any small business venture.

If you have employees, offer them flexibility in terms of scheduling or remote working. And even if it’s just you, see how you can best adapt your schedule to spend more time focusing on activities and relationships that provide you with personal satisfaction, not just entrepreneurial success.

Review your investment in technology and digital transformation

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that those businesses which were best positioned to leverage new technologies like online ordering and remote collaboration were the most successful during the crisis. Businesses without the right digital tools struggled to stay open and continue serving their customers.

The right technology for your business will depend on the product or service that you provide, but don’t wait to digitize and online your processes early. Finding the right tools to enable you to continue serving your customers in any situation, including a global pandemic, could be the key to future success.

Plan for unlikely scenarios

Outbreaks of deadly contagions, fires, tornados, floods, stock market crashes, civil unrest; 2020 showed us that anything can and will happen, at any time, anywhere, and it’s important to be ready for anything. Knowing what that anything is can be difficult, depending on your industry, your geographic location, population density and more, but a careful assessment of the risks your business faces is critical to being prepared in any eventuality.

Besides safety measures like physical security, disaster insurance, biosafety and cybersecurity, think about possible risks to your operations. How do your customers find you? How do they interact with you, or pay for your offering? How do you deliver your product to them? Assess possible obstacles or interruptions to those service flows, and how you might be able to prevent or circumvent risks.

Plan for unlikely scenarios

Finally, while many small businesses did survive the pandemic, those entrepreneurs are wondering how the changed business and economic landscape will affect them, and how best to pivot to embrace new opportunities. While this will depend largely on your industry, your product or service offering, and customer base, there are a few areas that any small business can focus their attention in order to be successful in a post-pandemic environment.

Focus on the customer, not just your product

This was true even before the pandemic: businesses which put the customer first and place heavy emphasis on customer experience tend to succeed far better than those who take a blasé approach to customer satisfaction. There aren’t many industries which can afford to ignore how the customer thinks and feels about their product, and chances are that your business isn’t one of them.

Place the customer at the forefront of any business decision. Make sure you have the right technology solutions in place to make their experience easy and seamless. Use data to create and strengthen customer relationships by getting to know your demographic, what they want and how you can provide it.

The pandemic created countless new opportunities for entrepreneurs


Covid-19 changed so much for so many people, it’s hard to know where to begin when assessing how the business environment and economy has been affected. As the world slowly reopens, case numbers fall, and normal life resumes, business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs alike should be focusing on how the pandemic has affected their industry, their company, their lives, as well as the lives of their customers and employees.

Recognizing new challenges and opportunities in a post-pandemic world will be crucial for knowing how best to create and market your offering, how to serve customers, and how to find success as an entrepreneur. The only constant in today’s world is change, so learn to embrace it!

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A special high five to Miles Burke for his outstanding research and contributions to this article. We love working with and supporting like-minded entrepreneurs. Thank you Miles! ❤️

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