The restrictions created to slow the spread of COVID-19 had been devastating to many businesses. As the public was asked to stay indoors, many retail stores struggled to survive. Most tried to go digital quickly. They made their merchandise available through e-commerce platforms and bolstered their online presence. Others relied on delivery apps as a source of revenue.
It had been tough. The wave of mass unemployment and an economic recession—one of the worst that the nation had ever faced—meant that many consumers did not have enough to spend to support local businesses. Profit was down across all boards.
However, the pandemic also created new opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to try their luck and open their first business.
First-time Entrepreneurs During a Pandemic
Not even a global public health crisis can stop young and first-time entrepreneurs from pursuing their dreams of becoming business owners.
In 2020, thousands of food and beverage establishments had to close down, and many never reopened again. Those that remained open had to face constant changes in policies. Sometimes, dine-in is allowed, but only for a limited number of people. Other times, only al fresco dining is permitted. For a significant period in 2020, only delivery services were allowed.
It is challenging to operate a business, but opening one during a pandemic is especially challenging. Still, it was not impossible. Many entrepreneurs actually treated the crisis as an opportunity to become business owners.
The recent report by the Census Bureau revealed that, in 2020, more than 4.4 million new businesses were created in the United States. That is 24.3 percent higher compared to the number of new businesses that emerged in the year prior. It is also a 51 percent increase from the annual average between 2010 and 2019.
Moreover, the upward trend is continuing in 2021. In January alone, half a million new businesses opened.
The Pandemic Accelerated Plans
For many new entrepreneurs, the pandemic did not delay but only accelerated plans that were already in place. Before COVID-19, they already had the desire to open a business but were looking for the right opportunities. That opportunity opened during the pandemic when millions of Americans lost their jobs and needed income.
In one survey, over a quarter of respondents, who were all entrepreneurs, admitted that they started a business because they were laid off or furloughed during the pandemic.
Experts have also previously speculated that being at home, having wider access to new technologies and having more spare time possibly led to the emergence of new businesses.
In the past year, selling online also became the primary way to do business. In fact, during the pandemic, the global e-commerce market grew to $26.7 trillion. It happened because many consumers had no other choice but to procure products and services online during the lockdowns.
The direct-to-consumer model, which is enabled by e-commerce, appealed to many new entrepreneurs. Most small businesses that opened in the past year are selling online. There are plenty of platforms that support small businesses that want to go digital, like Shopify and Etsy. Even Instagram has become a place for micro-enterprises to thrive and grow.
Large Capital Not Required
Starting a new business does not require a ton of cash, either. One can open a digital storefront for a small fee or even for free. There is no need to seek funding or apply for a loan. Many new entrepreneurs drew money from their own savings to open a small business.
However, even for those who want a more traditional business, starting a sub sandwich shop franchise will not cost a fortune, either. It will provide the business owner resources to succeed with a lower risk of failure, making it perfect for aspiring entrepreneurs who do not have extensive experience running a business.
More Control Over Your Own Time
To some people, having a regular 9-to-5 job during the pandemic is just not ideal. When working from home, they are expected to log in and out at a particular time. However, many working adults are parents, too, and, without school, they get the additional responsibility of childcare throughout the day.
For many, the pandemic caused challenges that pushed them to resign from their job and, instead, start their own business. As their own boss, they have the freedom to choose when they should start working and when to stop. They can take holidays, too, whenever they want.
Starting a business during a pandemic does not look bad. For many, the public health crisis was an opportunity to pursue what they had always wanted to do.