Turning Economic Crisis into Business Opportunity

Many successful businesses exist because there are situations that present opportunities and serve as a gateway to great innovation. These businesses play a crucial role in helping society navigate challenges by anticipating and understanding needs. The global pandemic we are currently facing is unprecedented. However, entrepreneurs are expected to rise to these challenges now more than ever. There’s no cheat sheet to overcome a crisis, but your mindset in approaching a crisis is the key to generating an opportunity-based business.

How Are Successful Entrepreneurs Approaching the COVID-19 Crisis?

Those who are poised to find success during this time aren’t waiting until this crisis ends. Entrepreneurs turn crisis into opportunity. They know that new ideas arise when everyone else is keeping their head in the sand. They look for opportunities before the dust settles.

They don’t hesitate because the economy isn’t perfect especially in this time of COVD-19 crisis. Instead, they know this is when people need them most. They think: What do people need in this very moment? What will make their lives easier or more efficient? What will benefit communities? If you need something in your own life, chances are other people do, too. Someone has to be the one to make it happen. Why wouldn’t it be you?

Keep this in mind: you don’t want to take advantage of people by capitalizing on a downturn. That’s wrong — ethically and morally. As an entrepreneur, what you’re doing is taking advantage of the opportunity that a downturn presents to use your skills and entrepreneurial thinking to make big, impactful changes and disrupt the marketplace for the better. You’re using your big dreams to benefit future users.

Raise Your Hand for the Opportunity That is Created in Uncertainty

And, most of us know that a downturn is a time to buy. Buy low, sell high, as the saying goes.

But, a downturn can also be the time to launch. If you see a business model that isn’t pivoting to keep up with the times, that’s an opening. YOU have to be the one poised to take advantage of those opportunities and create something new.

Entrepreneurs Who’ve Found Success During a Recession

  • Airbnb:
  • Famously founded in 2008 by two twenty-something RISD graduates looking to generate a bit of extra income by renting out an air mattress in their apartment, Airbnb benefited from the changing tide of travel during a recession. People wanted an option that was more affordable than a traditional hotel and these founders found a way to turn a legacy market upside down.
  • Groupon:
  • When consumers are less willing to spend their discretionary income, how should you encourage them to open up their wallets again? Groupon decided the answer was offering discounted deals — and it caught on. Founded in 2008, Groupon worked to bring local businesses to consumers’ inboxes and lure them in with daily discounts. While the company has evolved over the past 12 years, its initial model tapped into the motivations of financially hesitant customers.
  • Warby Parker:
  • As consumers eased out of the 2008 recession, they were still looking for opportunities to cut costs and Warby Parker saw a chance to disrupt a historically expensive market: eyeglasses. By eliminating the middleman and offering direct-to-consumer eyeglasses, Warby Parker not only disrupted its own industry, but it also started a tidal wave of D2C brands.

Who do we think will rise out of this downturn? The jury is still out, but most of us believe that companies furthering the new normal of remote work will be the big winners: Slack and Zoom are two of the leaders in the marketplace right now.

Here Are a Few Ideas We’ve Been Kicking Around to Launch in the “New Normal”

These questions will lead you to the place where entrepreneurs turn crisis into opportunity and that’s where you want to focus your energy.

  1. We’ve all heard about grocery stores running out of everything from toilet paper to flour but, interestingly, the grocery supply chain is not the same as the restaurant supply chain — and, no surprise, restaurants have an abundance of the very ingredients that are flying off the shelves in grocery stores. Think about how you could connect restaurants offering pantry inventory for sale with both customers who’ve come up short when trying to buy at traditional grocery stores and those who are looking for a curbside option rather than in-person shopping.
  2. Retail is down as most non-essential shops are closed. Stores need to find a way to serve customers online — and customers want an option besides Amazon. Could there be an opportunity to consolidate small business online shopping experiences into one platform? Perhaps one that offers a central location for pickup or shipping from a single warehouse? Consider how small retail businesses can reach consumers directly while building awareness and building on each other’s existing customer base.
  3. Who has waited in line to get into an essential business at some point over the past two months? And, who has been concerned that their exposure in line could be as risky as if they were all in the store? Instead of waiting in line for hours, a queuing app could be developed that allows customers to check on wait times from home, join the queue, check-in on their phone, and then wait for the safety of their car (or house!). This could be applied to everything from grocery stores to doctors’ appointments.
  4. We’ve all been on the Zoom call where the first few minutes consist of, “I’m so sorry for my long hair!” apologies. People are eager to get back to their salon or barber shop…but when will they feel safe to do so? A platform could be developed to connect personal grooming services with at-home clients once it becomes safe to do so, but while people still aren’t ready to leave their homes. There are currently similar options available, like GlamSquad, but they are geared towards audiences looking to get ready for special occasions — the opportunity is there for a more inclusive, everyday platform.
  5. Many businesses are offering curbside pickup or delivery options, but it’s done individually through stores. Could this be offered in a more streamlined, efficient platform? Think about it: restaurants offer delivery through one organized platform like DoorDash or Grubhub. Could the same be developed for large retail businesses?

Have other ideas? Consider other areas that could see a major shift in the current climate. Here are just few areas and verticals that needs some innovation during and after the pandemic:

  • Applications that support Return-To-Work after pandemic
  • Auto inspection and repairs
  • Executive assistants
  • Socially distant travel
  • Fitness
  • Children’s camps

And the list goes on.

One of These Ideas Caught Your Eye? Next Step: Building

Keep in Mind the Long Term Sustainability of Your Idea

This is where finding the right partner is key. You need a partner with experience in scale, growth, and adopting a business model as the market changes. The coronavirus pandemic and its resulting crisis will lead to a new normal, but we know that the world’s needs will continue to evolve — it’s never static — and you need the ability to pivot and adapt as we move forward.

Interested in building an application in this new normal? Let’s start a conversation today.

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