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Starting a business during the pandemic is not a far-off-the-wall idea

By Sara Okuoro | August 21st 2020 at 10:00:00 GMT +0300

As the pandemic struck out, many were rendered unemployed with others having to deal with reduced hours, reduced pay and general work uncertainties. 2020 has basically been a terrible year for everyone.  

If there is one thing many people have learned from the pandemic is that the job we think is safe might not be. We have all seen the importance of having a side hustle and not necessarily depending on our jobs completely. Having job security is no longer a priority for many people.

The idea of starting a business has passed through many minds as everyone struggles to at least pull through the end of the pandemic with fewer financial knocks. If you have thought about starting a business, then you don’t have to wait for the end of the pandemic or for things to get better before you dive into business.

History dictates that the business ideas that paid out the most were actually conceived during difficult times. The best time to start your business is actually during the pandemic and not after it. There is less competition now as most businesses have gone under after failing to adapt to the pandemic.  

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Some of the World’s most well-known companies started in very difficult times. General Motors, Hewlett-Packard (Hp), Hyatt and Trader Joe’s, just to mention a few, were all conceived during economic turndowns.

The technology companies that we use every day like Instagram and Uber were all products of the Great Recession. The coronavirus could also bear more legendary companies and you might be part of that if you explore that business idea today.

Getting a business idea is one thing, but positioning yourself well enough to make idea successful during this pandemic is a whole other story. Many businesses are already struggling to get through the pandemic and a new entrant should be more careful in order to be successful during these dark times. So, how do you do that?

Have a comprehensive but flexible plan

For your business to thrive during the pandemic, you must be able to adapt to the numerous economic knocks your business might suffer. Starting a business during these times is easily comparable to taking your brand new ship through uncharted waters, you have to adapt.

This is why you need a plan that will ensure you could shift directions and still build flexibility into the business for future employees. This may include simple choices like having work-remotely policies or hiring workers who are already comfortable with working remotely. These choices enable you to cut costs and shield your business from imminent economic knocks occasioned by the pandemic.

Having a comprehensive but flexible plan could also mean that you develop good relationships with suppliers so that in the event of a disruption, your business can be less impacted. You have to learn from the mistakes of those businesses that were killed by the pandemic.

Take advantage of bad times

The economy has already suffered significantly from the pandemic. This means that prices of different products have shifted and you ought to keep this in mind.

Start a business whose stock prices have dropped as occasioned by the pandemic or get basic business amenities at a low price. For instance, in Kenya, land and house prices have dropped, meaning you can get your business premises cheaply if you decide to do so during the pandemic.

Second-hand car prices have also dropped meaning your business can get transport solutions at a cheaper rate as compared to before the pandemic. In short, you can use the drop of prices to start your business with lesser capital than you would have after or before the pandemic.

Unemployment numbers have also increased during the pandemic; this means that there are many talented people desperately open to work.  

Innovate

The pandemic has brought about a huge change in the business world with everyone changing their style of operation to suit the new normal. Technology companies like Zoom and Google have already proved how innovation is key to operating a business profitably during dark times.

Zoom, for instance, was never heard of prior to the pandemic. However, by simply providing solutions for e-meetings and video conferencing, it is now amongst the top earners during the pandemic.

Innovation is in high demand as businesses look for smarter and less costly ways of operating. The industries that will likely see big changes include airlines, restaurants and retail. Starting a business among these industrial lines means you will have to conform to the restrictions that have hugely affected these industries. 

During these dark times, a lot of things change and those who survive are those who devised ways to shield themselves from the pandemic. If the pandemic is posing a challenge to the profitability of your business, then work around it.

It may not yet feel like there is an end to this pandemic, but it will come, and businesses will look different on the other side.

Dr Pesa is Kevin Namunwa, who is part of the brand and marketing team at Cytonn Investments.


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