Small-Business Ideas for a Post-Pandemic World
As the pandemic winds down, most people are thinking about where they’ll travel, who they’ll visit, and which restaurants they’ll eat at first. Those with the entrepreneurial fire, however, are doing what they always do in good times and bad — sniffing out the hidden opportunity.
With summer approaching and the virus finally moving toward rearview mirror status, opportunity is everywhere — if you know where to look.
No one can predict the future, but experts with instincts and experience can make very educated guesses on which business models are most likely to thrive in the post-COVID-19 world. GOBankingRates talked to a few professionals from a variety of backgrounds who did just that. The following is a glance at three industries and niches that have the wind at their backs moving into the post-pandemic era. If you’re thinking of launching a business of your own, these options might be a good place to start.
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Outdoor Event Planning
Eventually, indoor gatherings will return, although maybe never in full and maybe never in quite the same way as you remember from before. After the ordeal of 2020, however, you can bet that plenty of people will prefer a fresh-air alternative when given the option.
That reality positions one post-COVID-19 business plan as an obvious opportunity waiting for someone to capitalize on it.
Journalist, entrepreneur, and author Christina Kumar, who co-wrote “1 Habit to Thrive in a Post-Covid World, ” said, “Since, everyone has been temporarily cut off from in-person events, outdoor events will most likely be the new go-to for social gatherings for a while.”
The Corporate Market Could Be Bigger Than the Consumer Market
Everything from art galleries to stand-up comedy clubs are already exploring outdoor alternatives, but the trend is hardly limited to entertainment — or even to the consumer market in general. Businesses are expected to reimagine things like the traditional office party, training seminar and continuing education course. After COVID-19, that reimagining will likely include blue skies above.
After all, it makes good business sense.
“If businesses can cater to their customers in an outdoor venue, that can be a great way to keep their businesses operating,” Kumar said.
There’s no doubt that parents across the land are grateful that their kids are finally back in school or longing for the day that they soon will be. But for many others, e-learning gave them greater flexibility and control over their children’s learning than the dated 20th-century schoolhouse model. For them, there’s no going back — at least not all the way.
“One promising business model for the post-COVID world is e-learning,” said Ann Martin, director of operations at CreditDonkey. “We’ve all witnessed how the demand for remote services has skyrocketed. E-learning delivers an accessible learning option that is rapidly growing into a viable alternative to more traditional forms of education and training.”
According to EducationWeek (EW), Martin’s assessment is spot on. A RAND Corporation survey of 300 districts found that 20% of schools expect online offerings to be extended and even expanded in the months and years beyond the pandemic. A different EW report speculated that much of that expansion will be built on the hybrid model that emerged in 2020, with the physical school serving as the hub for an extended e-learning community.
Here, Too, the Corporate Market Could Be the Real Gold Mine
Small businesses that deal in e-learning technology, staffing, training, implementation, IT, textbooks and materials, software, tutoring, coaching, advising, consulting, etc., all stand to benefit in 2021 and beyond. Same as with the outdoor event-planning concept, e-learning offers a whole other market to be tapped in the corporate world, as well.
“While it’s popular at an individual level, corporate e-learning is where I’m seeing the most interesting developments,” Martin said. “In the post-COVID world, workplaces are trying to adjust to new customer expectations, new business standards, and a permanently changed marketplace. E-learning lets companies access specialized training to get their employees on track. I think we’ll be seeing many of these companies cropping up over the next year.”
When the last shutdown restriction is finally lifted, it’s hard to imagine there will be many people in the country who will ever be as casual as they were in 2019 with germs in the physical structures where they live, work and play.
That leaves an obvious, but very big opening.
“There will always be a local need in your community for cleaning services,” said Matt Lally, founder of TheGiftYak and former Silicon Valley account director at the digital marketing agency Wpromote. “COVID has obviously created concern around business cleanliness and office safety. In a post-pandemic world, we’ll see many of these companies take flight and attempt to control the larger metro markets.”
Market research company ReportLinker lends credibility to Lally’s position. Its data show that the cleaning industry by revenue will expand by a combined annual growth rate of 6% over five years between now and 2026. Small businesses that make or sell cleaning products or materials, train crews or companies, offer consulting services, provide certifications or certification preparation, and, of course, those who do the physical cleaning all have room for opportunities.
The report indicates an especially high demand for automated and robotic cleaning services, green cleaning services and specialized cleaning services, which means the companies that break the traditional janitorial mold are most likely to see daylight.
“A modern area cleaning business that is marketed like a high-flying startup has the potential to be very lucrative,” Lally said.
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