2020 has seen the world of business change like never before, or at least in the living memory of most people. Around the world, people were suddenly forced to stop working or work from home. Now the restrictions have eased in many places, though resurgences continue sporadically. All of this poses serious limitations on businesses, and challenges to planning for the future.
However, there are many innovative entrepreneurs that rise to the various challenges brought by the global pandemic. This can be seen through the hackathons and competitions that seek to take on global issues, such as easing congestion in public places to ensure social distancing can be maximized, and a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The crisis continues to have an overall harmful impact on business and the economy, but as a result of the changes in the markets and human activity, new opportunities present themselves for determined entrepreneurs.
New businesses need to be flexible and able to strategically pivot when the market demands it. Entrepreneurs should determine whether they are dealing with a short or long-term problem, and be mindful of this. Research from CB Insights found that a lack of demand was the most common cause for the failure of startups. If a business addresses an urgent issue in the time of a crisis, then it should be actively responsive to the demand and adjust accordingly.
Currently, more contributions are made to non-profit organizations that are COVID-19 centric. Businesses will also benefit from adapting the model of a social enterprise, with the combined objectives of financial growth and social impact.
With more enterprises that are data driven or completely based around data, there is a much higher dependency on technology. It is recommended for businesses of all sizes to hire a reliable IT company like Computers In The City in their local area.
The months following the coronavirus outbreak saw a huge increase in e-commerce, a growth of four to six years at pre-COVID-19 rates, according to experts. This has been more concentrated in groceries, toiletries and household products than it has in luxury goods and clothing. E-commerce stores have the challenge of meeting demands, as well as customer support, inventory flux and time management.
While safety measures stay in place, and even after they are eased, e-commerce will be a booming industry. Businesses will need to overcome the challenges in product management, inventory flow and customer support, but the opportunities are in abundance.
Telemedicine is another service that people have turned to as a result of social distancing. This has given healthcare professionals a way of reaching their patients, and high numbers of people are using telehealth services for the first time. Many who were not comfortable with it in the past have overcome their reservations as a result of necessity.
The medical industry is in need of health report maintenance, customer assistance and ongoing medical support. Telemedicine and non-profit organizations are able to use AI-chatbot services for help during the crisis. Along with B2B service providers, there are various opportunities for startups in telemedicine that provide value to healthcare.
To keep education ongoing in the new normal, institutions need to adopt innovative tools and new approaches to education. Online classes are needed to replace traditional methods and there is a greater demand for learning management software (LMS). AI-powered tools can help with attendance and assessment, which could become more a conventional format in education. With this shift in systems of learning, new startups have the chance to provide institutions with the technology they require, or even source the educators to teach through their own platforms.
The global pandemic has transformed delivery and provided countless opportunities for local delivery services. Speed and convenience are essential in a competitive market, and drone companies like Wings and Zipline have been trialing the delivery of medical and pharmaceutical supplies. Drones have yet to be used widely, but it could be possible in the near future. Courier services have been more common during the pandemic, and there are still ways that delivery startups can find new ways to address common problems in an expanding market.
As with most sports, the fitness industry has been brought to a standstill by lockdown and social distancing measures. Fitness classes that are led by instructors are not quite the same in digital form, but there has been no other choice but to go online. Both live classes and pre-recorded content to subscription models have become extremely popular during the pandemic. Businesses going into this surging market need to be able to meet the heavy demand, and also provide the business support for meeting the demands of the market post pandemic.
The pandemic has (understandably) brought with it a reluctance to use cash, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of card payments. The lockdown has made regular stores turn to online payment and delivery as the only way of continuing business, so online payment gateways have become an essential technology.
FinTech is a fast-growing industry and the pandemic has given it extra challenges. There are now significantly more online payment platforms that are offering more digital options and solutions. FinTech startups are able to offer more flexibility, speed and functionality than traditional banks, so they are increasingly a better option for businesses and individual customers.
In addition to personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, the world has never worked so fast to develop a vaccine and medication as they are now doing for the coronavirus. While the development of a successful vaccine can only be possible after months of clinical trials, the industry can accelerate the process in different ways.
Moderna is a US Biotech company that uses cloud services to collaborate with various health agencies to advance a vaccine. OptimizeRX is another digital health agency that delivers alerts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relating to the virus for healthcare workers.
The global pandemic has been devastating for many people, and a massive inconvenience for others. It is the largest disruption that the world has experienced in many decades, but all disruptions bring with them the opportunity to create something new, and improve on the systems previously in place. Entrepreneurs may take the events of this year as a sign that the world is ready for an era of innovation that will bring real value.