Conventional wisdom would state that the current stormy conditions are not the right time to start a business. Overall spending is way down and the “Plan B” safety net of “always being able to quickly get back into employment” may not be so straight forward as it once was. I get it.
But that’s not the whole story is it?
We’re seeing that these COVID-19 times are generating more entrepreneurial opportunities than we’ve seen for many a year. Whenever there is a seismic shift like this in people’s personal and business lives, it disrupts their normal way of doing things. They need new & different and solutions for their new & different problems. Not only do people currently recognise they must change, many are currently proactively looking for something or someone that can help them solve a problem brought about by lockdown. Crucially they are more receptive than ever to solutions from new people like you. They are much more willing to be experimental given the “unprecedented circumstances”. Do not let the magnitude of this escape you. This is the perfect storm in which new Startup firms are born and raised.
First steps - an offering and a customer
So, if the idea of starting your own business has appealed to you, what initial small “zero-risk” steps should you take to begin your journey?
You need an idea which is made up of two things… an offering and a customer. So, for example, “producing trendy face masks for female millennials”.
Your offering could be stimulated by a great idea, a technological breakthrough or based on a particular passion of yours. It must be something that you can do particularly well and would love to do for an extended period.
Now you have an offering, you need to consider the most important thing, a paying customer. However, one paying customer is not enough, you need enough paying customers to generate enough money, so you become profitable. Rather than trying to be all things to everyone, try and focus your thinking around a small focussed segment called a “niche”. From this niche market, develop a number of potential customer profiles or personas as they are known. This will provide you with critical insights relating to the degree they:
· have an un-met need that your offering fulfils
· would buy your offering plus how often and in what amounts
· influenced by other things/other people in their purchasing decision
Through some basic low-cost research conversations with people that match your personas, you can quickly establish if your offering satisfies a market demand. When you discover this, you have what is known as “Product/Market fit”. This is widely recognised as the first step in building a successful Startup business.
None of us can directly influence the COVID-19 situation, but we can control the meaning we give to it. Seize it as a rare opportunity presented to you in stormy times. The greater the storm, the brighter the rainbow.