In a previous post on Managing the Covid Crisis, I briefly mentioned new opportunities in technology infrastructure to provide for better employee and customer digital experiences. More specifically, more self service, more automation and further digitising of workflows.
This post takes a deeper look into employment, investment and opportunities during the pandemic. This isn’t necessarily all about profit. It’s no coincidence that many industry areas that will see growth will also be those that make a positive impact helping society fight the pandemic.
Changes in Employment
Employment prospects are currently stark with a reported 200 million expected to lose their jobs due to the Covid pandemic.
Look on LinkedIn and you will find the best people are being let go. The Covid pandemic is also creating excessive work pressure causing some people to voluntarily resign due to their work situation changing unacceptably.
All these people might now be thinking of creating a new business for themselves. Others, who still have work, might be thinking about a side hustle to insure against loss of work and be more in control of their own destiny.
Changes in Investment
Many people will say they don’t have money to start a new business. While the emphasis is often on Startup VC capital, I think this isn’t required for the majority companies. Fundraised is, in any case, disrupted.
New business doesn’t need as much funding as previously. The Covid pandemic has caused new ways of working that are much less expensive and more efficient than previously. Home working is acceptable, video meetings are quick/inexpensive and there are no expensive conferences.
Starting a business obviously needs some investment. If you don’t have money to start a business, seek out those who do. Find angel investors or family and friends. The people who do have money are in a quandary as to where to place their money. Stock markets are performing erratically, there’s little income from stock dividends, bonds are unreliable, property is suddenly an uncertain investment and deposit accounts provide no income. All this uncertainty can make funding a new business, in the right specialism, look relatively less risky.
Don’t look for people who can solely provide funding. Find people who can also add value. For example, look for domain experts who appreciate the opportunities in their vertical specialism or those who can help provide a channel to market.
When the pandemic started, people questioned whether we would have a U,V or L shaped economic recovery. It’s now believed there will be a K shaped recovery. Some businesses will be on the up tick of the K while others will be on the down tick. To improve chances of success, you need to identify those that are, or will be, on the up tick.
Hiring is a good indication of relative strength of different industries. A recent post on LinkedIn shows how the recruitment is already uneven:
Strong industries include logistics, healthcare and construction while finance, software and IT, media and comms roles, recreation & travel and entertainment are seeing negative hiring.
It’s interesting software and IT is seeing retrenchment even though C-Level Executives say tech spending is set to boom. Dig deeper and you will find software and IT is itself subject to a K recovery. Traditional roles are on the down tick. Cloud computing, remote collaboration, security, machine learning, distance learning and online entertainment are seeing an up tick. Notice these aren’t roles but areas or solutions that provide for the better employee and customer digital experiences mentioned at the start of this post.
Another way to look for opportunities is to consider solving problems people are currently experiencing:
Try solving one of the above problems but in a niche way, for example in a specific industry or situation. Think about how to use tech to re-balance the productivity stolen by Covid. With millions of people working at home, even a specialised, targeted offering could represent a very large potential market.
A further way to look for opportunities is to think about and enable automation. There are many ‘niche within a niche’ opportunities related to remote collaboration, app development and machine learning across areas such as digital payments, remote shopping, telehealth and robotics.
If you are an entrepreneurial type and have discarded lots of ideas in the past, revisit those ideas to see if the timing is better. Many ideas fail solely due to timing. Covid has juggled peoples’ needs. What might have been unsuitable last year might work now.
Similarly, if you have a current service or product, think how you might target it at a different industry segment that previously didn’t need it but now needs it more due to the Covid pandemic.
I would avoid Covid business opportunities that are too obvious. Obvious opportunities will subsequently have more competition than expected and only have a relatively short market life. Look for situations where there will be limited or no competition. Seek markets that will be good now and into the post-Covid future.
The Covid pandemic has disrupted employment and investment but there are new opportunities in specific areas if you carefully choose the industry. This can be a fulfilling time for those with ideas, passion and courage.