Which was the most-hit demographic through the pandemic? As companies frantically jettisoned workers the second they felt the pandemic pinch, and the economic repercussions continue to snowball through economies, recent data tell us entrepreneurship among the young is at an all time high. Disproportionately feeling the COVID salary losses at roughly 2 to 1 odds, young people have learned that you can’t rely on a boss. Who wants to live their life in fear of their salary evaporating once again? The pandemic has paved the way for youth entrepreneurialism to flourish as never before. And that will change the work landscape for decades to come.
What is ‘entrepreneurship’ in 2021, anyway?
Entrepreneur has been abused as a buzz word since the 90s, used for anything from true business leaders to the latest MLM scam. It’s not just about learning to create a website, sitting back, and letting the cash roll in. So what does it even mean to be an entrepreneur in a post-pandemic world?
An entrepreneur starts their own business, or creates their own income source, taking all the risk to reap all the rewards. It was once done to follow a passion, but in 2021, a key focus is to provide secondary income streams to supplement (and replace) an increasingly unreliable traditional career progression/salary. More than a few were saved from pandemic job furloughs by ‘side hustles’ that could fill the income gap, having entrepreneurship thrust upon them. Many more took the plunge into their own gap-filling business or freelancing, desperate to find an income source as their 9-5 went bye-bye.
We’ve seen bicycle-driven curbside deliveries, personal grocery shoppers for the at-risk homebound, mask designers and meal delivery services. All very smart ways to find a problem people have, and create a smart way to solve it. The very core of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Considerably easier said than done to maintain sustainably, however. How will those diligent stitchers and home chefs and vehicle owners build their businesses for the long-term recovery, as well as the lockdown? Lockdowns created an immediate unpredictable situation it was easy to find entrepreneurial space in. What of long-term sustainability as we leave the pandemic behind? Can the same young people stick it long-term and continue to capitalize on the post-pandemic landscape?
The risk is high, and the potential roadblocks many. Entrepreneurship has never been a recipe for quick money. In fact, the weight you face with your own business can seem crushing at times. And yet, it appears the next generation of workers would rather face that risk of failure than get furloughed again.
Is this the generation of ‘pure grit’?
There’s one ingredient every entrepreneur needs. True grit. In the cluttered post-pandemic landscape, that’s never been more apt. Many have risen, but many will fall as it gets harder to sustain their new businesses. It will take grit to not be among them.
It sounds cliche, but most cliches become cliche because of their truth. You have no guarantee of success and no one else backing you, so you need to have the perseverance to keep going even when times are tough. Ironically, it’s the ability to power through tough times that could transform them from failure to success.
All the grit in the world won’t fix fundamentally flawed plans or a lack of hard work, however. And a crowded marketplace, which 2021 most certainly is, is not an easy place to birth a smart business idea. So alongside pandemic-forged mental toughness, you need to have confidence in your ideas, determination, self-confidence, and an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’- the ability to think creatively and problem solve as well as sell your ideas well.
2021 has been the year of the young entrepreneur, but the boom cannot continue indefinitely. As corporations reinvent themselves for the digital age and more of the workplace return to what passes as workdays, many of the entrepreneurial flames lit in the pandemic fires will fizzle out. What will characterize the ones that won’t?
6 entrepreneurial lessons for the post-pandemic marketplace
There’s no guarantees in business, but what would make a business more likely to survive long-term when every second person wants to be their own boss?
- Compatibility. It might have been enough to just do something during lockdown because the chance to make money was there. Longterm, however, it’s unsustainable to chase lucrativeness over compatibility. Otherwise you will fold at the first challenge. It has to be a job you’re willing to take on risk for, and one you can find value in even in uncertainty.
- Planning. Dreams don’t just happen. No one is going to tell you what to do or make sure you clock in on time. You need to set concrete goals, identify opportunities, and have a game plan.
- Discipline. Self-discipline is going to be a big part of what separates the post-pandemic winners and losers. As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for yourself. Create your online presence. Find marketing partners. Get demo products ready. Process orders and complete them. Tick off that to-do list. The only person who cares is you. The world is happy to see you burn. More market for them.
- Adaptability. There will be victories and setbacks. Needs evolve. A year ago, no one needed cybersecurity solutions for home workers. Now they’re essential. Analyze the lessons, and keep on going.
- Watch the competition. Right now, there’s tons of people competing for success in a crowded environment. Many people are still unemployed from the pandemic. One way to become the best is to know what the others are doing. Keep tabs on the competition, and monitor trends that affect your industry. Shift and evolve before you’re pushed out.
- Never stop learning. The business landscape shifts all the time, and the pandemic-wrought changes have accelerated that. We went from office jobs to work from home in an instant. There will never be a point at which you can sit down and say, “That’s it, I’m done.” You will have to keep reinventing yourself and your product for modern times even as you succeed in your goals. Keep on top of general business and digital trends, industry trends, and keep your networking game strong.Work on your entrepreneurial mindset.
Conservative estimates suggest that up to 50% of the new ‘pandemic-preneurs’ could bomb out of the race within the next 3 years. It’s only with action you will make your entrepreneurial success a reality.