What to Do Differently When Starting a Business During a Downturn
Starting a business is never easy, and during a downturn like the one we’re experiencing now, there’s an extra layer of complexity to mitigate risks; but that doesn’t mean you need to wait for a recovery. We’re seeing Canadian entrepreneurs successfully launch companies during the lockdown.
So what’s different now? What needs to change in order to increase your likelihood of success? In this article, we review five things to do a little differently, now that the world has changed.
Plan and be patient, but don’t forget to execute
Extra time at home means the ability to actually put in the time to build a business plan. We never recommend a rigid 20+ page plan (that you’ll keep in a drawer and never look at again). Something short and practical is what you need to set out your ideas and goals. A good business plan should cover the main elements of product, distribution, marketing, pricing, and capital requirements for the next six to twelve months.
With the current economic environment, you’ll need to be patient and give yourself time before aggressively launching a new business; but don’t let time get the best of you. There’s only so much planning that can get done and there’s no such thing as a perfect economy for launching a new business. Much of what you’ll learn will come after you start. So plan, be patient, launch and learn as you go. No matter how detailed your business plan, things are going to change quickly once you’re up and running.
Online as a part of everything
Any prejudice that previously existed towards a video call vs. a face-to-face meeting is now out the window. Everything has moved online and your business plan should follow suit. No matter the industry of your business, it’s now more important than ever to understand how to deliver information, goods and/or services online.
As part of your business planning process, ensure that you include how you will build your online presence. There are a number of options available, from doing it yourself with the help of software tools like Shopify and Squarespace, to working with a digital agency.
Eventually things will get back to normal, but the pandemic will always have an impact on expectations. As businesses have quickly shifted to new service delivery methods, consumers expect an increased level of convenience. This ties in with item two above about every business having a strong online presence.
Embed convenience into your business plan and tailor it for your industry: Are you a lawn care professional? Then make pricing easy to understand and add the ability to purchase lawn care plans online. If you’re in the food industry, consider adding a core takeout program. Even if your business cannot deliver services online, having information easily accessible online will enable a higher conversion of customers for your business.
Recovering from COVID-19 will take us into 2021, and with that comes an uncertainty of not knowing exactly what everything will look like. This is why it’s important to build out a basic financial plan for your business that includes some potentially difficult times ahead.
Ensure that your initial capital expenditures on your business are kept to a minimum and that you have money saved up before launching. This will give you the financial breathing room to iterate on your initial business plan and pivot to meet consumer demand.
Making it official
Last but not least, you’ll want to ‘make it official’. This can differ for each business; some entrepreneurs will want to start out small and simply get a domain for their business to try things out, while others will move to incorporate quickly to ensure they mitigate risks, protect their personal assets and take advantage of tax benefits. No matter your business, ensure you understand what ‘making it official’ means today as well as in the months ahead.
At Ownr, we’re seeing entrepreneurs work through their business plans in real-time, as well as an influx of companies being created in a variety of industries, including home services like lawn care and construction, online services, and food delivery.
Although we’re all experiencing uncertainty as we try to understand what the future will look like, it’s a great opportunity to spend time on that one business idea you’ve always wanted to pursue. Implement the measures listed here so that you can decide whether you want to ‘make it official’ after all!