Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment. By the time you’re reading this, that number will likely be higher. Getting laid off is a blow at any time, and it’s an even harder hit during the pandemic. In these dark times, allow us to propose a small silver lining: maybe it’s the perfect time to start that business you’ve always dreamed of.
The truth is that getting fired has been the catalyst that many successful entrepreneurs have needed to go out on their own. It’s harder to leap into the unknown when you’re weighing it against the promises of a stable job, steady income, and other benefits. Once you’ve been laid off, you’re living in uncertainty, so why not claim that destiny as your own?
Expanded benefits through unemployment insurance and large-scale business shutdowns make this the perfect time to hone in on that business idea and dedicate time to your own ambition. You may have more of a safety net than you would at other times, and yes, it’s scary to start a business, but that’s always true. Harnessing your fear now could help you come out of the pandemic as your own boss. Even if you don’t continue with this new endeavor long term, it will help you stay sharp and practice new professional skills that you can then market to future employers.
Whether you’re a veteran entrepreneur or a first-time business owner, there are a number of ways you can start work on a new venture from the comfort of your sofa.
If Shark Tank commercials have taught us one thing, it’s that “it only takes one idea to change the world.” (Tell us we’re not the only ones binge-watching Shark Tank.) It’s time to harness that idea that’s been rattling around in your head and turn it into a business. What problem are you solving? How will your business set itself apart from what’s already on the market? How will you operate under potentially continued restrictions?
If you know you want to start a business but you’re not sure what you want to do, we recommend considering moving into industries that are prepped to do well in the wake of the pandemic. Online stores, delivery businesses, cleaning services, and telehealth are all poised for growth.
Gain as much knowledge as you can about your new business by performing market research. If you don’t know where to start, that’s okay. We can help. Let us walk you through what you need to do to perform robust market research when starting a new business. You can consult trade magazines, talk to other business owners, use your network to conduct surveys, and focus groups.
How is your business going to make money? To answer that question, you need to put together a business plan. Didn’t go to business school? No sweat. Our Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Business Plan will take you through everything you need to know.
This step in the process—which yes, can be done from home in sweatpants—will provide you with a clear roadmap for running your business. A business plan is an essential tool that helps small business owners decide where to spend money to reduce unnecessary startup costs. Plus, you’ll need it if you plan to apply for a grant, SBA loan, or other financing to help fund your new venture.
If you haven’t already applied for unemployment insurance under the expanded benefits, make sure you do. You want to support yourself—and your business—by taking advantage of all the financial resources at your disposal. Research grants for new businesses, enter competitions, you name it. A little cash can go a long way toward getting your business off the ground.