Originally published in July 2020 on Sootoday.com
This article was inspired by a recent webinar I participated in, on How to Start a Business in Sault Ste. Marie After COVID-19.
I was asked to open the webinar by talking about why anyone would want to start a business after a pandemic. I shared that I think with every challenge, new opportunities arise. But first, we need to reflect on lessons learned from this incredibly challenging time.
Before I go further, I want to commend and applaud all of our local entrepreneurs and business owners for working so hard to get through this pandemic in one piece. As I stated on the webinar, it is probably safe to say that the impacts of COVID-19 have been a worst-case scenario that few businesses could have planned for.
Some of the things we have learned in the last four months with COVID-19, are:
The truth is we learned how unprepared we were as a society, to operate when faced with a severe challenge to the status quo. But with challenge comes growth. We learn how to adapt and to overcome. We learn how to do things differently. We learn how to become more resilient.
Will things ever go back to normal? It is too early to tell. Certainly, some things may change forever. But we will get to a “new normal”. And in that new normal will be opportunities.
My advice to entrepreneurs exploring the idea of starting a business right now included the following:
When I deliver Starting a Side Hustle seminars, I talk about three ways to come up with a business idea for your part-time business:
Your business doesn’t have to be unique or even amazing, just as long as it supplies something people need, and the market is not saturated.
By looking at all three sources of business ideas, I think that you can easily come up with a handful of ideas that could make for a profitable business. If you already have a business idea, which category does it fall into?
Once you have your idea, you’re ready to move onto the market research phase where you will ensure that the business idea represents a real opportunity and you have the resources to successfully launch the business. The research involved in launching a side hustle isn’t as extensive as when starting a full-time business with a larger investment.
Regardless of the type of business you want to start, it is important to talk to potential customers, and also to get help from and access community resources such as the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship, Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre and others that offer free business counseling. For a list of community small business resources, visit our resources webpage at http://startupsault.ca/resources/.
I want to take this opportunity to encourage and welcome all of the new entrepreneurs and startups that will come out of this incredibly challenging time. I also want to encourage everyone to continue supporting our local businesses, now and in the future. Our community really does depend on them.