Starting a business has always been an intimidating prospect. Creating a business plan, lining up funding, sorting out logistics, setting up supply chains, hiring personnel, paying taxes, the list of entrepreneurial responsibilities goes on and on.
Toss a pandemic into the mix, and starting a business can feel downright impossible.
However, as the dust settles from the first round of COVID-19 pandemic responses, it’s becoming possible, once again, to actually start a business — if you’re careful. Here are a handful of considerations that, while hardly new, are uniquely important when starting a business in the coronavirus era.
Have a Thorough Plan in Place
First and foremost, if you want to survive and thrive in the current business climate, it’s essential that you have a thorough plan in place before you launch. This doesn’t mean everything has to be worked out in rigid fashion — on the contrary, adaptability is also important (more on that further down.)
However, you want to think through everything possible in order to reduce the number of variables that you’re dealing with at any given moment. Do your homework regarding the state of the industry that you’ll be operating in. Study companies that have managed to succeed in spite of COVID-19 as well as others that have made mistakes and failed.
Also, make sure to keep up with laws and regulations. The pandemic has ushered in a new wave of legislation that is both complex and constantly changing. Always being aware of the current legal expectations of businesses in your niche is critical to success.
Line Up Your Professional Help Beforehand
Launching a business single-handed is one of the surest ways to fail. The complex process requires a variety of professional help, such as:
- A lawyer that you can go to with questions and who can help you avoid common small business scams.
- An accountant that can help you track income and expenses and pay your taxes on time and in full.
- A business partner that can help with some of the entrepreneurial responsibilities and shoulder a portion of the risk.
Now, you don’t need to keep a lawyer or accountant on staff, or even on retainer. Heaven knows your startup budget likely won’t allow that anyway. However, the security of having a financial or legal agent that you trust and whom you can hire when issues arise cannot be overstated.
In addition, lining up a partner to work beside you in your labors is a key concept of a successful business, if only for the emotional support alone. If you can’t find a partner, you should, at the least, comb your network for other business owners to talk to. This will help you keep an ear to the ground as you strive to keep up with changes in the small business community.
Use the Tech Available
2020 saw an unprecedented advance in the application of available business tech, such as remote work tools and online marketing. As a new business owner, it’s essential that you use the tech available to provide an unparalleled digital customer experience.
You can do this through a customer-centric company website, effective social media customer service, email promotions, and even offering online ordering or curbside pickup. You can also establish a remote-friendly business infrastructure using tools like Slack, Zoom, and Asana. All of these are uniquely relevant during a pandemic where social distancing, both between coworkers and with customers, is highly recommended.
Adapt and Stay Flexible
Finally, it’s important that you plan now for the post-COVID business changes ahead. In retrospect, a pandemic will only be temporary, and eventually, a new, sustainable business normal will establish itself. When that happens, you must be ready to shift your operational procedures accordingly.
Regardless of your industry, the two most important post-COVID business traits that you want to develop now are agility and resilience. These complementary attributes are crucial, going forward. The ability to maintain an agile position as a business will allow you to adapt to whatever curveballs come your way. If you’re shut down by another wave of sickness, you can shift operations onto the cloud. If your supply chain is disrupted, you’ll be able to shift things around quickly. If operating your clothing boutique downtown is becoming too costly, you could switch to fully online sales and marketing.
Resilience is also key, as the economic future is highly unstable. With early retirees buckling down on expenses, unemployment rampant, and consumers maintaining a cautious attitude towards spending money, you may have to demonstrate a certain level of resilience at times when sales are slow and income scarce.
However, if you can learn to do so now, you’ll be able to develop a long-suffering endurance towards any and every challenge that may present itself in the future.
Taking Advantage of an Opportunity
At the end of the day, a savvy entrepreneur knows when an opportunity presents itself. While unstable, unprepared small businesses are shuttering their operations across the globe, it doesn’t take much to realize that a smorgasbord of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities has presented themselves through the ongoing crisis.
Whether you’re going into the hand sanitizing manufacturing business, trying to open up a restaurant, selling SaaS products online, or anything else though, you absolutely must go into your venture with your ducks in a row. From planning everything out and lining up professional help to finding a partner and staying flexible as you go along, entrepreneurs during the coronavirus must show an unprecedented set of business skills if they’re going to succeed in what has quite appropriately been named the new normal.