Starting a new business can be challenging enough at the best of times. But what about doing so in the middle of a global pandemic? Or in the economic downturn that will inevitably follow?
You’re probably thinking it’s a complete non-starter, right? And that any plans you had should be put on hold until such times as we’re experiencing more stability.
I’m here to highlight that if you have a great business idea, supported by a solid plan and the right people around you, there’s no reason why you literally cannot launch in the middle of a pandemic.
Some of the world’s biggest brands were launched during tough economic times
Did you know that both Uber and AirBNB were launched during the financial crisis of 2007-2009? How about Burger King’s story? The fast food chain witnessed its first burger being flipped back in 1953, at a time when the United States was in the middle of a recession.
The bottom line is that it’s not unheard of for businesses to be launched under extremely testing circumstances. In fact, the added adversity is usually what fuels the founders of such businesses to knuckle down, secure customers (even when there’s a distinct lack) and ensure their new endeavour is a success. The importance of strategic planning, as well as taking calculated risks, is often what leads to long-term sustainability and growth.
While you may not go on to have a business that is as profitable as some of the ones I mentioned, all the same principles apply.
My own experience
Now it’s all very well me citing Uber and AirBNB as examples of successful businesses that launched during difficult times. And you’d be within your rights to say, “That’s great, Alex, but we’re talking about a couple of startups that are now worth tens of billions of dollars. What about the smaller guys?”
So let’s talk about my own experience…
After the initial shock that produced waves of anger, fear and frustration throughout the businesses I am associated with, we almost immediately accepted the situation and began to look at opportunities in the market. We dealt with the fact that some of our businesses were stuck in lockdown with no way out and the implications of that financially or otherwise, while far from ideal, meant we had to batten down the hatches in places.
However, when we allowed ourselves to start looking into the future, we found tremendous opportunity everywhere, with both talent and untapped ideas! Switching our focus to the problems that could be solved, such as perspex screen installation, new products to make office environments safer, such as shoedle, and investing in new talent that would allow us to offer wider services to growing businesses. This light at the end of the tunnel has kept us focussed, motivated and optimistic about the future.
Likewise, Shifties, the business support community I founded in 2018, has experienced an uptick of interest since the start of the pandemic. Why? I’m putting it down to the fact that we’ve focussed on providing as much support as possible to our members and adding value to their businesses in lots of different ways.
What’s amazing is that instead of cutting back and temporarily putting on hold all the amazing plans we’ve got, we’ve actually ramped things up. I’ve committed to opening a second Momentum Hub to support all the fantastic plans we’ve got and this is at a time when many other companies are reducing their office footprints.
Finally, Snuggeries, the bespoke garden room business I’ve also helped nurture, has witnessed more success than perhaps I and everyone else involved imagined possible. We’ve secured numerous orders and awareness of the brand continues to grow, thanks to some smart marketing and several high profile press announcements. You can read more about how Cliff, my business partner and Snuggeries founder, launched it in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic here.