4 Tips for Discovering a Great Business Idea During the Pandemic - Entrepreneur

4 Tips for Discovering a Great Business Idea During the Pandemic - Entrepreneur


4 Tips for Discovering a Great Business Idea During the Pandemic - Entrepreneur

Posted: 22 Sep 2020 12:00 AM PDT

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's been a struggle trying to remain optimistic throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Between adjusting to new routines and facing so much uncertainty, the crisis has definitely taken a toll on us emotionally, mentally and physically. And it's probably going to be this way until the foreseeable future.

But, as a resilient entrepreneur, that's not exactly a bad thing. Times of crisis, after all, drive creativity and innovation. Some examples throughout history include:

  • Adding more cars to trains to limit the number of passengers in each during 1918. The 1918 influenza pandemic also led to the establishment of a national disease reporting system.
  • During the Great Depression, patents spiked. These inventions included ballpoint pens, photocopying, the first working helicopter, the discovery of nuclear fission and the car radio.
  • As Bill Gates noted in a blog post, "During World War II, an amazing amount of innovation, including radar, reliable torpedoes and code-breaking, helped end the war faster." The mass production of synthetic and vehicles like the Jeep also came out of this period.
  • Airbnb succeeded following the Great Recession, since it was an alternative for anyone who had been priced out of hotels.

More recently, we've witnessed this as well. Whether it's clothing companies pivoting to producing facemasks or Dyson designing a new ventilator, there are opportunities to hack the COVID-19 crisis.

"In good times, companies get fat, dumb, and happy when it comes to innovation," said Jay Rao, author and professor at Babson College. "There are no boundaries, and it's chaos." During turbulent times, however, entrepreneurs are forced to think differently to solve problems.

Let's take a closer look at how you can make the most out of COVID-19.

Related: Startup Failure? Let's Find Where Are You Going Off the Track

1. Follow the three Rs

No. I'm not talking about reduce, reuse, and recycle; this is something different: It's actually a rapid-recover-revenue. And, according to McKinsey, the three Rs is one of the strategies you should use if you want your business to come back stronger.

"Speed matters: it will not be enough for companies to recover revenues gradually as the crisis abates," write Kevin Sneader and Bob Sternfels. "They will need to fundamentally rethink their revenue profile, to position themselves for the long term and to get ahead of the competition."

How can this be achieved? Well, your company is going to have to SHAPE up:

  • Start-up mindset. Instead of extensive research, take action. action.
  • Human at the core. "Companies will need to rethink their operating model based on how their people work best," Sneader and Sternfels explain.
  • Acceleration of digital, tech, and analytics. It's to just make the shift to digital. You need to go further by enhancing and expanding your digital channels.
  • Purpose-driven customer playbook. "Companies need to understand what customers will value, post-COVID-19, and develop new use cases and tailored experiences based on those insights." 
  • Ecosystems and adaptability. There's a good chance that your supply chain has been disrupted. As such, you will probably have to change your ecosystem and think outside the box.

"Rapid revenue response isn't just a way to survive the crisis," say Sneader and Sternfels. "It's the next normal for how companies will have to operate." And, when you're in good SHAPE, you'll be able to rebuild operations and rethink your organization, accelerating digital adaptation.

2. Update how people and processes work

Considering that things have probably slowed sown at least somewhat, it's an opportune time to reevaluate how your team works. Are they more productive working remotely? Or, do you think that they still need face-to-face interaction -- even if it's just a couple of days a week.

Moreover, take the time to see where there are any bottlenecks, financial waste or inefficiencies within your organization. For example, maybe you were using ineffective tools, a flawed product strategy or not managing their time effectively. Knowing this, you can improve these areas so that you can come back even better than before.

Related: The Importance of Product, Process and People

3. Search for local, state or federal assistance

Regardless of whether you're having difficulty paying your bills or hoping to expand your business, you should take advantage of local, state or federal assistance. Funding options are an excellent start point. These can include:

Additionally, you may want to look into the following small business grants from agencies like Grants.gov, Challenge.gov, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the U.S. Economic Development Administration. But, don't forget to consult local and state agencies as well.

You can also check out:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs
  • STEP Awardees
  • EPA Grants
  • USDA Rural Business Development Grants
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Program

You should also meet with your accountant or tax advisor to see what tax relief is currently being provided. One example would be payroll tax deferral relief for the self-employed. Another would be tax credits to cover COVID-19 related employee paid leave.

Related: Want to Adopt a Proactive Approach to Disruption? Here's How.

4. Be proactive, not reactive.

There's a good chance that you have had, and will continue, to have some spare time on your hands. Some people haven't had a problem spending their valuable time wisely. I've had friends and family who have learned to play a musical instrument, get back in touch with nature, and engage in some much-needed R&R.

But, you should also dedicate some of this extra time to reflect on your company's future and what it will take to get you there. Will that require you to update your business plan? Do you need to expand your online presence, interaction, and capacity? Should you take some classes to develop or strengthen your skills?

To put it another way, don't ease up on the gas pedal. Use this time to get your business in a prime position to jump on opportunities and stay ahead of your competitors. Just be mindful that you don't burn yourself out. You don't want to be exhausted when the business world awakens.

10 Best Business Ideas with Minimal Startup Costs - NuWireInvestor - NuWire Investor

Posted: 17 Oct 2020 04:03 PM PDT

There is no ambitious person who has never thought at least once about starting his own business. If you're feeling the itch to get into business for yourself, here are 10 ideas that have little to no startup capital requirement.

1.  Wedding Makeup Artist, Hairdresser at Home

Such a business cannot be built without investments at all, but they are minimal. If you have the skills and abilities, it is enough to create an account in one of the social networks for your small business without investment. Place a catalog of services there and immediately start working at home, gradually switching to salon services.

When the business starts to grow, build your website and control the online reputation management of the salon. This will help you get a good name in the market.

2.  Monetizing Hand Made

This type can be called especially relevant for homemakers and women on parental leave. It is enough to indulge in your favorite hobby and sell your masterpiece through Internet sites, your friends, or at city fairs.

3.  Consulting and Tutoring

Another win-win option for starting a business from 0 without investment is private lessons for children and adults. Most often it is used by experienced teachers. They work in their free time with their own students, if they need additional training. The attraction of customers from outside is also possible. There are many special Internet sites available for this.

4.  Blogging or Creating Your Own Website

If you have the skills to write, you can become a blogger. Earnings are carried out through advertising; however, it is necessary to collect a large audience. And if earlier it was possible to do it on your own, now you have to involve specialists who help in promoting the pages. Once your blog starts getting the response, you can take services of PR Fire to increase the traffic on the website or blog.

5.  Advertising on Cars

The list of simple types of business without investment would be incomplete without this way of earning money. The number of funds received largely depends on the brand of the car, the territory in which it drives and many other parts.

6.  Renting Out Housing

To implement the idea, you will need your own apartment or house, although some owners manage to rent out a separate room. There are a lot of options for disseminating information in this case: special booking sites, mass media and many others.

7.  Earnings on Freelancing

If young people think about what kind of start-up business can be opened without investment, they often stop at this. All you need is a fairly stable internet connection. You can acquire skills over time. Copywriting, rewriting, translation of texts – even a high school student can do all this.

8.  Real Estate Agent

The essence of the idea is that you have to act as an intermediary between the landlords and people who want to rent it for a short or long term. The amount of earnings depends on the commission received, and special skills play an important role in the work.

There are a lot of realtors in the market, as well as rental housing. But the reputation of many companies leaves much to be desired, which means that you will have to fight with prejudice.

9.  Organization of Holidays

To work in this area, you need special skills, a good sense of humor, and some other qualities. However, if it makes you happy, you can start making good money with no investment at all. True, it would help if you were prepared for the seasonality of your business.

10.  Training

In fact, such activity allows you to share your professional experience with people who want to acquire some skills. For example, improve the quality of sales, change the motivation for life and work. For successful implementation, you will have to master the skills of public speaking.

Final Words

The main advice to follow is to find your unique niche. Then analyze the situation in the economy and the market, soberly assess the risks and think over how to minimize them. These ideas may help you decide which business will be easy for you to set up with minimal investment.

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4 Lessons You Can Learn From Estonia's Tech Unicorns - Entrepreneur

Posted: 17 Oct 2020 11:15 AM PDT

Companies from this small nation been able to make a global impact because they keep possibilities in mind.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you're like most Americans, you may not have heard of or even be able to place it on a map, but you might just be using a product created there without even knowing it. Despite being a small European country of just 1.3 million people, "the government boasts it is home to more , private companies valued at more than $1 billion, per capita than any other small country in the world," according to CNBC.

Naturally, each of these companies began life as a startup. This is no accident. Estonia has more than a thousand startups, and it is well-known that the country has successfully fashioned itself into a digital paradise. Government services can be accessed online from anywhere using a secure digital identity that is issued to all citizens and residents, allowing a variety of activities to be done online, from taxes to voting. Likewise, an Estonian company can now be established and managed entirely online with minimal hassle and costs through the country's e-Residency program.

The Estonian digital transformation project began two decades ago, with internet access being declared a basic human right for all citizens. These digital foundations have made a big difference and reverberated throughout both the public and private sectors. The country has a supportive culture that leads to innovation, collaboration and a willingness to take risks.

From startup to ubiquitous

Let's learn a bit more about four of Estonia's tech unicorns.

  • Bolt: This is a European competitor to Uber. Users can hail cheap rides from an app on their phone or on a laptop. This startup's mantra is simple: Be the cheapest ride in every city. In May 2020, the company raised 100 million euros and is now valued at $1.9 billion. 
  • : Nearly everyone has heard of this Estonian startup, which is now owned by tech heavyweight . The software was originally developed by three Estonian entrepreneurs and has become one of the most popular video and voice call hosting applications in the world, able to connect you with up to 25 people at once.
  • TransferWise: This online money transfer service supports more than 750 currency routes across the world, but (you guessed it) the tech was originally developed in Estonia. The founders came up with the idea while working borderless and developed the software to help combat the challenges of being paid in different currencies. The company now boasts more than 4 million customers and 11 offices across four continents. 
  • PlayTech: This software development company was founded in 1999 in Tartu, Estonia. Playtech provides software for online casinos, poker rooms, bingo games, sports betting and more. It is used by millions around the world every day. 

Lessons from tech unicorns

Since Estonia leads other countries in its digital-first approach and in tech unicorns per capita, there are some lessons that the rest of the world can practice as we move forward in these unpredictable times:

  • If you see a void, fill it. Estonian tech entrepreneurs saw that something was missing in the marketplace. In some instances, the solution was new (Skype), and in other instances the founders thought there could be a better way to do something that already exists (Bolt).
  • Hire the best people, no matter where they are. Since Estonia is a small country, it's often had to look beyond its borders to find the right people for the job. Sometimes those workers are non-Estonians who have relocated to the country to get a firsthand look at its innovative culture; in other cases, Estonians have taken their talents to other countries.
  • Find a supportive network for collaboration, inspiration and innovation. Estonia has a tight-knit community of tech workers that support each other and help push others to always strive for something better or to take a different look at how to overcome an obstacle.
  • Don't get in your own way. There might be challenges in your way, either real or perceived, but that shouldn't stop you. Estonians have had to overcome challenges at nearly every turn, from fighting for their place on the world stage to building their country back a generation ago. Estonian companies have been able to make a global impact because they believe they can succeed and they have a can-do attitude. If one way doesn't work, they try another way. They don't think what may be against them, they just think what is possible.

These Estonian unicorn traits might help you and your company survive and thrive in these unpredictable times.

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6 Ideas To Earn Money From Home - Entrepreneur

Posted: 24 Sep 2020 12:00 AM PDT

Step out of your comfort zones and explore different ways to earn money during COVID-19 pandemic

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3 min read

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Staying at home and witnessing incomes subside surely doesn't feel good, which is a reality during the current pandemic. While the traditional source of income may have diminished, there are a lot of other things that one can do to make some money staying at home.

Here are some avenues for making money online while staying at home. With an abundance of time on hands, one can try out one of the following to get started.

Teach online

If you are academically strong, you'd be surprised how many people would be keen to learn from you. Start tutoring online. You can begin with a small batch of students, maybe those that you are locally acquainted with, or perhaps advertise your service to get started with it.

Start a blog

This is the best time to get started with a niche blog. While it will take some time to grow, people are consuming content more than ever from their homes now. The blog can extend paid collaborations for linking, advertising and other ways to generate decent revenue.

Freelance

If you are a writer, coder, artist or one with any skills that you can relay online, freelancing is a great option. Just update your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn with what you are offering and look out for clients. Set your rates and earn money at your own terms.

Try affiliate marketing

If you are up for learning a few savvy skills of setting up an affiliate marketing gateway, you can earn some really good money. You can employ this either through blogs, a YouTube channel or any other site where you can use an affiliate link and make a portion for each purchase through your link.

Set up an e-store

If your business has suffered due to COVID-19, just take it online. Set up an e-store on Shopify or perhaps an independent one and list all your products. Market them on relevant sites and you can initiate sales in no time. If you already have a production line, this can help you earn a significant amount at home.

Initiate online consultations

If you are a professional such as a therapist, career counsellor or legal aid who gives consultations, start finding an online client base. Set up a fee, find clients and use your existing profession to make money from home.

Monetizing your skills online isn't as hard as you think it is. Just make sure to have an organized approach with whatever you choose to start and bring in local customers for your directed service. Anything you start will take some time to start running smoothly. So, get on the band wagon, have patience and put in the work to make decent bucks online. Start today!

Why these Acadiana entrepreneurs are starting or investing in new businesses amid coronavirus - The Advocate

Posted: 14 Oct 2020 12:00 AM PDT

So what if businesses are closing across the country and the unemployment is still above normal? Now is the time to start or invest in a business.

Sounds incredibly risky, doesn't it?

Not at all, entrepreneurs say. Americans are starting more businesses than ever during this era of COVID-19. Innovation is happening in Acadiana and elsewhere for lots of reasons, mostly out of sheer survival by people who might have lost a job, had their hours cut or simply see an opportunity. 

Americans are starting a business at the fastest rate in more than a decade, the Wall Street Journal reported. The U.S. Census Bureau reports more than 3.2 million applications for employment identification numbers have been filed already this year, surpassing the 2.7 million at this point in 2019.

In Acadiana, the number of people seeking to register a limited liability company has risen since April, said Heidi Melancon, director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

It's also meant a flood of business ideas, like the displaced oil and gas industry worker who was interested in starting a plate lunch business, she said. 

Sure the economy is still in recovery, but it's turning more people into entrepreneurs and just plain hustlers.

"You have to be," Melancon said. "Think about it. I don't like to look at disasters as opportunities because it's people's misery, but people are starting roofing companies or debris cleanup companies. This is the time. Or tree removal. Lots of opportunities can be had right now because, hey, there's a need."

Here are four stories people in Acadiana who are finding business opportunities and trying to capitalize on them.

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Kelsey Sanders plates chicken alfredo, one of the many dishes she prepares in her kitchen for her business Eat Fuel Fleurish, Tuesday, October 13, 2020, at her home in Carencro, La.

Kelsey Sanders, Eat Fuel Fleurish

Kelsey Sanders put this down on her Vision 2020 board back in December: Start a meal prep service.

If only it was that easy.

But you have to start somewhere, she thought. That was when she was commuting to her job with Sprint in Lake Charles as a phone technician. So her first step was to establish the business, Eat Fuel Fleurish, and she started with only four regular clients each week.

But then COVID-19 hit.

Her hours with Sprint were reduced. When she was working, it wasn't even a full shift. So she started cooking lunches on Fridays, her day off. Once restaurants had to close their dining areas, things really started happening. In March, she made 100 meals, but that blossomed into 100 meals in one weekend in April.

But the job hits kept coming. T-Mobile bought Sprint during the summer, and she was offered a sales rep position, which, she admitted, "I had absolutely no desire in doing."

Sanders left that job Aug. 8. She's been working her meal prep business full time since.

"I think COVID hitting was a blessing for me," Sanders said. "The reason I didn't start my business sooner was I always had things planned. Traveling is what I like to do, but that was also taking time away from me to devote to my business. Having things shut down forced me to work on my business plans."

Sanders, also working toward a MBA at UL, does the cooking in her Carencro home. She sells health-conscious meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner, including air fryer chicken and waffles, shrimp tacos, turkey meatloaf and burrito bowls.

The menu items, you should know, are personal. Her father, who was diabetic with poor eating habits, died during her senior year in high school. She wants her menu to prevent someone from a similar fate.

"For me, honestly, I watched him kill himself," she said. "He didn't have the proper guidance. I just wish somebody was there to help him. I just want to be that person that helps somebody know they can change their life and not go down that path."

What's next? A commercial kitchen, for starters. She may need to hire an employee or two soon.

Oh, and she graduates Dec. 9.

"Taking on this project was already a challenge," Sanders said. "I've learned so much stuff. I'm constantly learning how to be more efficient in my business. My goal is to have a distribution center. That's where I want to take this business."

Is starting a business during a pandemic the craziest idea ever? Some people don't think so. Business innovation is soaring across the country…


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Mitzi Guidry, owner of Lilou, is pictured Wednesday, October 14, 2020, at her new coffee and thrift shop in downtown Lafayette, La.

Mitzi Guidry, Lilou concept thrift store

You might be looking at the whole pandemic wrong. The quarantine, says Mitzi Guidry, was a chance for lots of people to re-evaluate things.

"I kind of joke and say people have kind of come out swinging," she said. "At least entrepreneurs."

That's her story, anyway. The Louisiana native who spent years working in the fashion industry in Los Angeles over time became concerned about the industry's effect on the environment. There's lots of waste and carbon emission in the fast fashion industry, she noted.

It was her last corporate job at Wrangler when she discovered the incredible sustainability of leather. Leather, she noted, is the only byproduct that is also a renewable source. Products made with leather are made to last forever.

Her entrepreneurial spirit first kicked in when things went bad during the 2009 recession. Wrangler closed the plant in Los Angeles and put about 400 people out of work. But Guidry and others who worked there pooled their resources — they came out swinging, you might say — and bought some of the equipment to start Los Angeles Leathercraft, where she is head of leather goods development.

And as the business grew and younger workers came on board, she picked up on something.

"I started having these conversations with them a few years back and became fascinated with their genuine interest in the environment, climate change and how that was affecting their buying habits," Guidry said. "I just started to dig deeper into that and discovered that the second-hand fashion market was growing at a rate like 21 times faster than traditional retailers in the last three years. I thought that was very interesting."

Guidry moved back to Louisiana last year after almost 20 years in Los Angeles but still holds her position with Los Angeles Leathercraft. In June she signed a lease for a small spot in downtown Lafayette at 535 Jefferson St. to open Lilou, a concept thrift shop.

It's a shoebox of a space, just 14 feet wide and 55 feet deep, but it works. She can be creative as an entrepreneur and maybe catch a trend of second-hand clothing or just catering to anyone who is looking to save money on clothing.

"In times like this everybody is just trying to be more mindful about spending and just making their dollar stretch a little bit more than ever before," Guidry said. "The environmental piece of (thrifting) is always something to consider. In terms of where money might be a little tight, I think thrifted clothing is an awesome option."

Is starting a business during a pandemic the craziest idea ever? Some people don't think so. Business innovation is soaring across the country…


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Lottie Francis with Malmak Domestic and Commercial Services poses with a electrostatic machine to offer deep cleaning for clients on Saturday, October 17, 2020 in Carencro, LA.

Lottie Francis, Malmak Cleaning Service

Lottie Francis' cleaning business, Malmak Cleaning Service, is her side hustle while she does billing work at Azar Eye Clinic. But business at Malmak, like so many others, has slowed some since the pandemic hit.

So she's trying to fight back and find more opportunities. One solution? Take a chance and invest in an electrostatic machine and offer a deep clean, or a COVID clean, to sanitize and disinfect offices. It's a machine that you wear on your back, and she's hoping the $350 purchase can lead to more opportunities and more revenue.

"I saw it as an opportunity to increase clientele," Francis said. "I started seeing on Facebook that some companies were doing it. Then I had another friend of mine. He was into flooring. He had the machine. He gave me some pointers on what to do, and that's when I ordered the machine."

If she can hustle up more clients through the investment, it won't be the first time. She launched Malmak — named for her children, Malika and Makiya — after she got laid off following her move back to Lafayette from Houston in 2012. A friend who had a car detailing business knew how serious she was about keeping a clean house and connected her with a client who lost a housekeeper.

She found more houses to clean and then offices. A side hustle was born.

"I've been doing this for so long," Francis said. "It's a relationship instead of just a cleaning. My people are older. They're real sociable. I go shopping, and we do stuff. It's a little more than just cleaning the house."

Francis also recently consulted with Corey Jack with Jack & Associates, who then connected her with marketing students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who will do marketing work for her as part of a school project.

She had three employees but had to let one go after she lost an office client. But she's hoping the investment can lead to three more office customers.

"The plan is to grow the cleaning service," she said. "I'm going to have the crew and I'll be there monitoring and supervising and go in when needed. The plan is to not be doing a whole lot of cleaning myself."

Is starting a business during a pandemic the craziest idea ever? Some people don't think so. Business innovation is soaring across the country…


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Brock Thibodeaux, the founder, president and CEO of Regal.Tech, talks about the Google AI-powered mapping technology he deveoped to track and predict Covid-19 outbreaks Monday, October 12, 2020, at the Opportunity Machine offices in Lafayette, La.

Brock Thibodeaux, Regal.tech

Brock Thibodeaux was the 48th person in the country to test positive for the coronavirus.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate was living in the Seattle area having just begun working for Microsoft when the first cases were reported in the United States there. He lived near the Life Care Center nursing home, which became the first hotspot for the virus with at one point 81 of the 120 residents testing positive, leading to 31 deaths.

He recalled a walk to Walgreens when the dry cough began — "It felt like eating a bunch of Pringles with no water in your body" — before other symptoms followed. He went to the emergency room, got tested and sent home to recover before getting the call that he tested positive.

"Two weeks on the couch and my temperature averaged 102, 104, 103," Thibodeaux said. "February 28 was when I literally thought I was going to die. I woke up and I couldn't breathe. I had been hallucinating because my fever was so high. I'm having really, really vivid hallucinatory bad dreams. It was bad."

It was that time at home and watching the virus spread around the country, including in New Orleans after Mardi Gras, and the responses to the virus that Thibodeaux, a former U.S. Army Ranger, decided he had to do something to help.

Thibodeaux, who earned a graduate certificate in cybersecurity from Harvard University's extension school, eventually landed $25 million in venture capital funding for his technology startup company that gathers hospital data and other data and can follow where cases are, where the hot spots are and predicts where the next outbreak is going to happen.

His startup, Regal.tech, has five employees and is currently housed at the Opportunity Machine.

"It's basically a huge decision-maker," he said. "You punch in a bunch of information at once. If you had COVID right now and went into the ER, you live down the street, you're going to walk your dog every day maybe. Or this is the area you've been in the past week. Or let's say your mom lives in Abbeville. Let's say all the hospitals are owned by the same company.

"We look at patterns at that ER, put that all in a big decision maker, and once it punches out information, it builds algorithms. And over time, it says, OK, this is what could happen."

But right now his technology is looking for a home. Thibodeaux says the technology can be used in the oil and gas sector in finding where to drill next.

"We're going to get there, man, but the whole idea was to start right here," he said. "I wanted to be in Lafayette. It's going to take time. We've got solutions. Once we get it started, it's going to be nice."

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