Startup success under COVID-19


18th June, 2020

Startup success: Seeking motivation and growth under COVID-19

Home alone, out of work, or always dreamed of testing your entrepreneurial skills? Here is food for thought for those willing to take calculated risks and seize opportunities.

You would have to be crazy to start a new business during a major economic downturn, right?

Not necessarily. The Great Depression spurred the development of companies such as General Motors and Disney, while the global financial crisis (GFC) saw the birth of the gig economy and, in particular, digitally-based entities such as Airbnb, Uber, and Pinterest.

Similarly, the COVID-19-induced recession is a challenge for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs to meet new or changing consumer demands, although many small businesses do have good reasons to worry if they will ever reopen. Despite the pandemic, new businesses are still forming, although with cash in short supply, at a slower rate than before.

Some months ago – long before the introduction of social distancing and other coronavirus-related restrictions – MYOB published an article titled ‘The keys to startup success’. In it, Steve Hui, founder of Australian startup iFLYflat, offered advice to would-be entrepreneurs that are as relevant today as it was then.

“Success or otherwise is almost invariably determined by effort and execution,” Hui said. What matters most, he added, is a lasting sense of purpose.

“The best entrepreneurs love a challenge, and that’s what drives success.”

Growth sectors

US-headquartered high-tech digital advertising company Taboola recently analysed eight billion webpage views to determine in which sectors the next wave of startups could thrive as their local economies falter, and high on the list were home improvement (140 percent growth in consumer interest), pet products (50 percent growth), and home beauty products (36 percent growth).

Of course, none of these categories are guaranteed to foster millionaires, but there is one that just might: fitness and health, which registered a staggering two million percent growth in interest.

Informed, educational content on how to not lose weight in lockdown is in huge demand, with searches for ‘weight loss’ steadily increasing over the time people spend in self-isolation. Indeed, according to German online portal Statista, over 2.6 million home workout (requiring no equipment) apps were downloaded in March this year.

Money matters

Inevitably, during times of economic hardship, money (or lack of it) is top-of-mind for most, which is why despite various government financial relief packages, almost all Australian accounting firms are being overwhelmed by clients desperately seeking professional advice.

You may not be a CPA or CA, but if you have financial nous, there is (like it or not) also an opportunity to make money from those who are losing it.

Everyone still has bills to pay, so if you have expertise to share – whether it’s in areas financial, marketing, HR or otherwise – it may be worth considering how to build out your own consultancy and help ease the pain of other business owners.

Be sure to check relevant guidelines regarding certifications and accreditations before providing any advice, as this may land you in legal trouble, costing you more than the job was worth in the long run.

Share your skill sets

Sharing your expertise can be a ticket to opening a new microbusiness, and in the current climate, if you do need a specialist’s support, there is greater access to top talent. As Hui pointed out: “The idea makes up 0.1 percent of the entrepreneurial journey”.

“Having a unique selling proposition [USP] is vital,” said Hui.

“Think about what makes you different, and the skills and attitudes you can bring to problem-solving.”

For example, these might include IT skills such as assisting others in a similar situation to yourself set up the right software, such as Zoom, to help their idea for a new business go successfully digital. Alternatively, start to remote review websites and where improvements could be made and explain and demonstrate the possible benefits of a podcast, or even ghost-write blogs or online advertorial-type articles to generate interest in certain new business ideas.

All in the same boat

The principles are universal.

“When you start a company, you don’t feel that you’re to act as the salesperson, but you do,” Hui emphasised.

“You have an idea you think will make money, but you also have to sell it.”

Here’s how MYOB takes care of business admin so you can achieve start up success. To find out more, Australian small business owners click here and New Zealand business owners click here.