“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
With the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, the world economy is in the midst of a tectonic shift as the tragic and unjustifiable loss of human life impacts every corner of our society. Markets are weak, a reflection of investor anxiety and uncertainty. Employees are working from home, or not working at all, causing great income uncertainty. And, a tragedy for our country’s economy, American small businesses are feeling some of the greatest burden.
But, as any entrepreneur will surely tell you, the only way to survive change is to adapt. And, every successful entrepreneur knows that constant change and adaptation is the only mode of survival–no matter how long you’ve been in business or how many dollars you have on reserve.
That’s why all of this economic uncertainty does not have to be the surmise of the small business. No, in fact, this uncertainty will inevitably be the success of many.
Current business-owners and aspirational entrepreneurs alike, take note. Now is the time. Here are some long-tested steps to get started.
1. Focus On Mindset
Right now, stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. Worrying news about the economy combined with anxiety over future job losses mean that most of us are spending more time than usual thinking about negative possibilities.
It’s time to change that.
Start by trying to reframe your thoughts. For example, instead of ‘what am I going to do if I am unable to interact with my customers’ try ‘how can I innovate the way that I interact with my customers.’ Every time a negative thought about the future pops into your head, shift it to one grounded in excitement and hope.
2. Look For New Opportunities
Entrepreneurs are experts at opportunity recognition. Look at the simplest and yet most disruptive companies. They all started with a good understanding of how to spot opportunities. Netflix saw an opportunity in using the internet to display video titles instead of a brick-and-mortar store. Later, they spotted more opportunity as American homes got faster internet and invested in streaming services.
Your job is to look at what is going on right now and spot the new opportunities. What do you need today that you didn’t need a month ago? What are your friends, neighbors, family members asking for, but cannot find? Starting here will help you uncover the unmet needs in the market.
Remember, opportunities exist in the nonprofit world as much as the for-profit world. There have already been several new grassroots efforts to meet unmet community needs–from checking on elderly neighbors to grouping grocery runs. What’s next?
3. Envision The Future
Now’s the fun part. Close your eyes and imagine the future. What will our world look like in a few months? What happens once the outbreak is contained? What happens when a cure or a vaccine is launched? Does the world go back to normal? I doubt it.
Entrepreneurs, now is your time to think about the major shifts in our post-COVID-19 world. Many people are predicting more virtual social gathering, new sanitation needs, and a long-term work-from-home culture. Iterating solutions to our future problems will reserve you a seat at the table.
– Steve Mariotti is a prominent advocate for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education worldwide. He is the founder of the global nonprofit NFTE the author of hundreds on the transformative power of entrepreneurship, including his recent memoir, Goodbye Homeboy.