By Caroline Cummings, Columnist The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) From child care to delivery services, to businesses related to health care, this may actually be an advantageous time to launch your idea.
As many businesses are struggling to stay afloat, unemployment rates skyrocket, and concern about consumer spending increases, it may seem like the worst time to start a new business.
Although it probably isn't a great idea to start a dine-in restaurant or a concert venue, it's actually an opportune time to consider opening a business that provides services to help solve some of our pandemic-related challenges: cleaning services, child care services, delivery services, emergency response and health care, to name a few.
Now is also an interesting time to consider starting a "pop-up" business in response to current market challenges and conditions. A pop-up is temporary and place-based, such as a drive-in movie theater. As social distancing becomes our new norm and as families and friends are looking for ways to interact and to be entertained without risking infection, a drive-in movie theater could be a solid pop-up business idea.
In considering a new business, start by thinking about problems and needs currently in the market that are not being met. Then determine whether or not you have the resources to meet those needs.
At the heart of innovative entrepreneurs is an inner belief: "I know I can solve this problem better than anyone else." That belief is the reason why any good pitch to investors for funding starts with a story, telling how your product or service is addressing a real-market problem or need.
A pet food company, for example, that makes food and supplements for dogs with digestive issues can make a pitch for funding by sharing pet owners' success stories, such as Sofia's dog Diego, who no longer has digestive problems thanks to the company's food and supplements. Another part of the company's story? On average, pet owners save $525 per year on veterinary expenses. It's clear that the company is solving two problems for pet owners: first, its products are eliminating digestive issues in dogs, and second, fewer health problems in dogs means less money spent at the vet. Be sure the business you start aspires to meet consumer needs that other businesses are either not able to meet or are not doing well.
There are several benefits to starting a business during the current economy.
For one thing, market gaps are more blatant. As such, it's easier to spot the needs not being ad-dressed in the market. A recent example of a glaring gap in the health care market was when health care workers couldn't acquire Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to minimize their exposure to COVID-19.
Also, talent is at the ready. As of June 2020, 47,000,000 Americans filed for unemployment over a 14-week period. Depending on the industry within which you're considering to open a business, the possibilities for hiring could be fruitful. And with more people working remotely, your candidate pool can even expand outside your local area.
Comfort with virtual interactions is growing. With most companies worldwide being forced to work remotely and pivot to online, growth within video communications companies such as Zoom has skyrocketed.
The reliance on video communications has also helped people become more comfortable engaging via video, so, for a new business, conducting face-to-face market research with potential customers is easier now than ever before.
And finally, people want to help. A lot of people with business experience are happy to share their knowledge and network with an aspiring entrepreneur, especially if the business idea is in line with their area of expertise. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Entrepreneurship is a team sport.
Ready to take the leap? Several resources are available to help people wanting to start a business in Oregon: Business Oregon, oregon4biz.com; Oregon RAIN, oregonrain.org; Oregon Secretary of State, sos.oregon.gov; Oregon SBDC, bizcenter.org; SCORE, score.org.
Caroline Cummings is the executive director of Oregon RAIN where she leads a team of venture catalysts around the state who help build entrepreneurial ecosystems and economies. She is an angel investor and has helped fund several startup companies in Oregon, and is passionate about advocating for the underdog. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.