Spend some time toiling in service to someone else’s vision, and it won’t take long to fancy how much better things would be if you got to call the shots. Thus, many employees dream of one day running their own business.
But that vision requires a lot of hard work and risk-taking. Few people have the necessary skill, self-belief, and appetite for discomfort that distinguish successful entrepreneurs from the rest.
Yet that shouldn’t stop us from trying, even amid a time of uncertainty and economic difficulty. A pandemic changes our behavior. It makes people generally cautious about spending, but it also makes us want to buy custom face masks online, for instance.
The risks of entrepreneurship also come with considerable opportunities. Counter-intuitively, the modern age of volatility, crises, and recessions may actually be the best time to start your first-time business.
Finding success in a downturn
Warren Buffett is famously quoted for saying that we need to be “greedy only when others are fearful.” He spoke in terms of investment advice, but entrepreneurs will find value in applying those words to the current climate.
Some of the biggest brands today were founded during economic downturns. Burger King, FedEx, and Microsoft all trace their origins back to years of recession and general pessimism, and hardship. More recently, the likes of Uber, Airbnb, and WhatsApp started up immediately in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008.
This doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to the countless numbers of businesses that have been launched during down years and ultimately failed.
But the risk of failure is always going to be part of the challenge of entrepreneurship. It will be there even if you start a venture during the best of times.
On the other hand, being bold and taking action when most people are governed by fear can lead to lasting success. There seems to be something about entrepreneurs who dare amid recessions and the businesses they found worthy of emulating.
Embracing change and thinking differently
Even in the early days, the coronavirus pandemic was seen as a catalyst for upheaval and change in many aspects of our lives. We now see abundant evidence that in the long-term shift towards remote work, online shopping, distance learning, and minimizing in-person contact and gatherings.
This property is not unique to Covid-19. Any time of crisis is an inflection point on the curve of our existence. It shakes things up, potentially tearing down the status quo.
Such change creates opportunities on many frontiers, especially in business. But only entrepreneurs who embrace the disruption and adopt a different way of thinking can take advantage.
Finances will be tight. But that also forces you to think creatively and actively become better at managing expenses to survive.
At the same time, other people are struggling, having been laid off work or facing reduced income streams in the face of greater financial costs. Their challenges can be an opportunity for you to employ talent that wouldn’t normally be available to a startup.
Organizations can become complacent when the economy is strong, just like people can become too attached to their comfort zone. When an economy dips or an industry becomes disrupted, those who’ve grown accustomed to good times find that they lack the requisite agility to navigate turmoil.
Zero in on bringing value
Starting a business with tight resources and plenty of market uncertainty also forces you to really focus on value generation. You can’t afford the luxury of conducting time-consuming market research or waiting for a project to pay off over the long haul.
Using principles like the minimum viable product (MVP) made popular by tech startups, you can immediately start bringing value to the market. You’ll learn more about what really works by releasing a product with only the features you’re testing, nothing more. In the process, you also save on the effort and investment with each iteration.
Not all entrepreneurs will succeed when launching a venture during this pandemic. But those that do are going to be fully aware of the attributes that brought them such success. Nimble response to change, lean operations, and failing forward are all qualities that you’ll hone during a crisis, and you won’t lose them when things eventually turn around.
Ultimately, this is what you can strive to emulate by starting a business now. Most entrepreneurs are constantly learning through experience, rather than getting into business with a polished skill set. What better way to earn your stripes than through the baptism of fire that these challenging times offer?