We are sitting at the precipice of what will likely be one of the best times to start a new business in the last 80 years. Maybe even longer.
I understand that the notion of putting time and money on the line might seem gut-wrenching. And it is. Starting a new business, at any time, is scary.
Whether you’re putting $10,000, $100,000 or more of your own hard-earned dollars on the line, investing in a startup is a tough decision.
But conditions are so perfect right now during COVID-19 that you can’t afford to wait. Maybe you’re newly graduated and have found yourself out of a job. Maybe you were laid off. Or maybe you’re finally ready to take control of your destiny and not be beholden to the whims of someone else’s decisions and judgments.
I want to be very clear about something though.
Starting a business isn’t easy. It will mean making sacrifices for both your time and money. It involves a certain degree of risk and there’s no guarantee of success.
If you want to enter the business world to get a fast return on your money so you can live a good life, then you should know that running a business is probably harder than you realize.
I’m not trying to discourage you from becoming an entrepreneur—I am trying to paint a realistic picture of what’s required so you can maximize your chances of success. If this seems like too much, this might not be the best path for you.
If I haven’t scared you off, I’d like to move on and discuss why this is likely the best time in the last at least 80 years to start a new business.
Enter Malcolm Gladwell’s Book, Outliers
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell noted that “the biggest misconception about success is that we do it solely on our smarts, ambition, hustle, and hard work.”
Gladwell wants to dispel the notion that “everything that happens to a person is up to that person.”Being born at the right place and the right time can play a huge influence in determining someone’s success.
Gladwell cites the fact that the best Canadian hockey players are born in the earlier part of the year. This is because youth hockey leagues are divided by calendar year, and the older the player is in that year, the more likely they are to be larger and more mature. That advantage can follow an older player as they rise through the leagues.
Gladwell also brings up Bill Gates and his founding of Microsoft as an example. Gates’ success is attributed not only to his amazing business skills, but also to the fact that he happened upon the evolution of the computer and home desktop/PC industry at just the right time and place. Had he been a few years older or younger, it’s possible that he might have missed the desktop/PC revolution, and instead focused his efforts on an entirely different industry.
Today, we find ourselves at a similar inflection point in history, the likes of which we haven’t witnessed since the end of the second world war, and maybe even longer.
This virus is changing entire industries, literally overnight. We have seen massive changes in the way our society functions, from supply chains and travel to the ways that people work, shop, communicate, learn, and go about their lives. Every single business has been impacted in the last few weeks.
The change we’re experiencing is creating a ripe environment for successful startups. If you start a business in the right industry now and sell the right products or services to the right markets, you can capitalize on that change, much in the same way that Gates happened upon the PC industry at the right time.
Next, and equally as important, is the fact that startup costs are lower today then they were just a few months ago. For example, Facebook and Google ad costs have declined by upwards of 35%, and in some cases, much more. Labour talent that was in tight supply a couple of months ago, with multi-decade low levels of unemployment, is now much more available, and in many cases, less expensive. Add current government incentives, both within Canada, and the US, and you have an environment that plays itself well to starting a business now rather than waiting.
Where Are the Opportunities to Open a Business During COVID-19?
Healthcare and Life Sciences:
Some industries and ideas are fairly obvious. Others not so much. For example, the current COVID-19 crisis has impacted the healthcare industry in major ways. Not only is there surging demand for healthcare equipment, medicine, and supplies, but many countries are now insisting that the production of this equipment and medicines be on local soil, regardless of the cost differences of manufacturing locally.
Technologies that Support Work from Home
Again, this one is fairly obvious. You don’t have to build a billion-dollar company like Zoom to find your niche. There are many periphery firms that will service the work-from-home trend including interior design, construction, and furniture to equip home offices.
People may still attend concerts, live sporting events, and cultural celebrations virtually during COVID-19. What are some of the tools and technologies outside of the obvious virtual and augmented reality that could possibly benefit?
From a Physical Crisis to a Mental-Health Crisis
If you’re still in university deciding what industry to practice, then anything in the mental health space will probably be in great demand for the next many years as this pandemic wreaks havoc on our finances, emotions, marriages, and overall well being. I suspect that when the pandemic is behind us, we’ll find that we’ve experienced more periphery damage to our society as a result of the containment than damage created to the hospital and health system during the pandemic itself.
Industries and society are changing, and fast. Markets are being transformed. If you start a new business to capitalize on these changing and emerging trends, you will be beginning your new entrepreneurial journey at a pivotal time in history.
Starting a business might be easier than finding a new job in this market. And it doesn’t hurt to consider the freedom of being your own boss, with no one to answer to but yourself.
There has never been a better time to take control of your future and design a business around today’s circumstances. If you’re considering opening a business, there may not be a better time than during the COVID-19 pandemic.