Starting a business during a crisis may seem like a crazy idea to some, but consider this: Disney was created during the Great Depression. Fed Ex was dreamt up towards the tail end of the 1970 recession. Hewlett Packard was started with less than £500 in a Palo Alto garage during the recession of the late 1930s. In other words, many of our most iconic businesses and brands were born in tumultuous times. So if you’re looking to start a small business during a crisis, strap in: it may be a bumpy ride, but you could arrive in an extraordinary place. Who knows – you might even start the next Airbnb, which sprang up as an alternative to high-priced hotels during the 2008 economic crisis.
Crisis tends to reshape things. As a result, new opportunities emerge. Workers who were made redundant or furloughed during a crisis may suddenly have time on their hands. Maybe they’ve had a long-term passion, but never had the opportunity to pursue it. Booking a two-week date with Netflix is always a possibility, but does it sound as good as making a dream come true?
Successful companies have found ways to prosper in uncertain times. They’ve looked for new opportunities and capitalised on them, transforming their business in the process. Recently, brick-and-mortar retailers have become e-commerce pioneers. Big-box behemoths have become agile retailers offering innovative service options and AR-powered experiences. Software companies have created virtual worlds that locked-down gamers have thrown themselves into exploring. Zoom and Slack have seen the value of their companies increase by nearly 40 billion Pounds, seemingly overnight. All these companies have something in common – they’re filling a need that didn’t exist just a few short months ago. Can the business you envision do the same? If so, this may be the perfect time to get started.
Opportunity is one thing; passion is another. If you combine both passion and opportunity, there’s no limit to what could be done. So it’s important to ask yourself: do I really have a passion for this business? Your would-be customers might be enthusiastic about your new product or service, but also might be wary about smash-and-grab companies capitalising on crisis. If you plan to start a business during a crisis, make sure that your messaging is honest and empathetic. When you go into business, you’re also going into the business of relationship building.
Most countries will have some kind of support available for new entrepreneurs. Individual banks offer small business loans, of course, but there are also some other avenues worth exploring. Here are some potential funding options to consider.
Start with your savings. “Bootstrapping” your business can be tricky, but if your business idea only requires minimal start up costs, then not taking on additional debt can be a huge advantage down the line.
Angel investors. If your business requires a good amount of capital from the start, consider approaching an angel investor. The great thing about angel investors is that they’ll often offer rates that are more competitive than traditional lenders. Of course they’ll want a piece of the business in return, usually in the form of equity or a convertible note.
Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is one of the most popular ways for niche businesses to get off the ground – and big businesses too. In fact, a surprising number of blockchain-based businesses have raised hundreds of millions of Pounds on crowdfunding platforms. A successful crowdfunding campaign not only enables you to raise start-up capital, it helps to build up interest in your business before launch.
Venture Capital. VC is a great option to consider if you’re looking to benefit from the expertise of others. And make no mistake; VC investors will expect equity in your business, as well as some level of influence.
As well as this, it’s worth checking out what might be available to you in terms of Government funding.
After coming up with an idea and researching funding, you’ll want to figure out what technologies can bring your business to life. Today’s business world is customer-centric, so using a CRM system to build and maintain relationships is essential. Salesforce is a market-leader in cloud-based CRM, and offers SMEs a number of easy, robust solutions to improve communications, analyse data and integrate with social media platforms.
CRM systems can help give small businesses a competitive edge. According to research from Salesforce’s “Recipe for Success” eBook, CRM systems can increase:
Lead conversion by up to 30%
Sales by up to 30%
Sales productivity by up to 35%
Customer satisfaction by up to 35%
Faster decision-making by up to 38%
Revenue by up to 25%
Starting a business during a crisis requires a strong vision, an abiding passion and the right technologies. Oh, and a good business plan! It also requires the ability to communicate honestly and empathetically. Businesses that focus on agility and resiliency will be rewarded in the new climate, and from crisis, something extraordinary might grow.
To learn more about how SMEs can find success in the new landscape, download the 4th edition of the Small & Medium Business Trends Report.