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30% of ‘Pandemic Entrepreneurs’ Plan to Never Open a Physical Space

Quick take: Despite COVID-19 related closures and restrictions last year that severely impacted small businesses, there was a surge in new small businesses being founded in the United States — a total of 4.4 million and a 24% increase over the year prior. New survey data released by Salesforce today found that one third of these pandemic entrepreneurs will focus on digital experiences, with no plans to ever open a physical space or storefront. 

What’s the impact: The survey asked 206 people who founded a company between April 2020 and April 2021 about their experiences, and the findings shed light on the mindset of entrepreneurs who took the leap into their own business while existing small businesses faced unforeseen challenges. An overwhelming majority of these new businesses are “Digital First,” with 70% saying their company was either born out of technology or focused on tech from day one.

Fast facts: Of the study’s participants,

  • The largest group of respondents (32.9%) took the initial leap into entrepreneurship because they were furloughed or laid off during the pandemic and needed a new source of income. 
  • However, a significant portion (25.6%) were simply following through with plans they already had in place before the pandemic. 
  • What’s more, 57% reported they were inspired to open because they wanted to be their own boss.
  • 55% think the business conditions for starting a new venture are better now than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • More than two-thirds (63%) are starting businesses in entirely new industries, with only 37% staying within a category they already understood.
  • The majority did not need an extremely large amount of funding to start a new venture. More than a fifth (22%) started with less than $1,000; with another third (30%) starting with only $1,000 to $10,000 in funding.

The Salesforce perspective: “This generation of small businesses understands the criticality of going digital out the gate — technology can help build trust with employees and customers in the form of ongoing communication and reliable interactions, but it also future proofs small businesses for whatever crises or challenges come down the line,” said Marie Rosecrans, Senior Vice President of Small Business Marketing, Salesforce.

Zoom out: Feelings on the difficulty of getting funding to start a business now vary widely and are up for debate.

  • A third (31%) of surveyed entrepreneurs reported easier funding conditions, with the feeling of more loans being available and accessible.
  • However, 27% percent think funding conditions haven’t changed at all in terms of access and difficulty, with another 27% reporting a tougher experience (e.g. more restrictions, competition for loans, longer lengths of loan distribution).

Explore further: 80% of survey respondents are targeting consumers, not other businesses. And like the trends that gave rise to direct-to-consumer powerhouses like Casper and Warby Parker, more than half of these companies do not have a storefront (61%), with a third of them (30%) stating they don’t think they ever will. 

Read the full report on the pandemic entrepreneurship surge here and on the Salesforce blog


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