Quarantine has brought up some fantastic opportunities for many budding entrepreneurs to start creating structure for the dreams that have been occupying space in their minds. After the initial panic, many realized that they had been gifted this amazing opportunity to pour their newly freed time into creating viable plans for their visions. If you are one of these gifted individuals, then you must be wondering what steps you should be taking next – so let’s take a look at how to turn your COVID-19 innovations into a business.
1.Will Your Innovation Address a Long-Term Problem?
The best innovations are created in response to specific, urgent, and sizeable problems. In some ways, the Covid-19 crisis has made our most urgent problems and their potential solutions more obvious. For example: Health care providers needed masks; production facilities were idle; workers were furloughed and needed jobs. A social enterprise could address all three of these urgent problems simultaneously: Train workers to make masks in underused production facilities for health care providers.
But will this cluster of problems still need your solution three to five years from now?
Some coronavirus-inspired entrepreneurs are building on existing trends that have been amplified and accelerated by the pandemic, such as the explosive growth in telehealth, remote patient monitoring and the use of AI in healthcare. For example, free meal delivery services that were started to help health care workers may fall into this second category.
2. Who is Your Long-Term Market?
The next step is projecting whether there will be a large, passionate market for your product or service in a post-Covid future. User-centered design has taught us that a key to building a lasting business is having a deep understanding of who your customers are and how your product or service fits into their world.
As a Covid-19 inspired entrepreneur, ask yourself two questions: Are you delivering an innovation that your customers are passionate about? And will there be a large enough number of these passionate customers to grow a business once coronavirus is under control?
3. Prepare to Pivot
If you determine that your current target market may not be large enough in a post-Covid future, you may need to pivot, like we did. If it’s your turn for a strategic pivot, do whatever you can to pivot early, proactively, and thoughtfully. There are ample stories in the media these days of startups that are pivoting — but are doing so reactively in a frantic scramble for survival.
4. Create a Business Model
Many of today’s Covid-19 inspired innovations are being given away for free, or are supported by donations, as is appropriate during an emergency. The leaders of these startups should be aware that contributions to non-profit organizations that are not Covid-19 centric are way down. Maintaining a donation-exclusive organization over the long-run in the face of today’s economic circumstances will likely be difficult.
Covid-19 inspired innovators should consider revenue models native to the field of social entrepreneurship. Social enterprises have a dual mission of social impact and financial growth and have developed an array of business models to achieve these parallel goals.
It is unclear at this time which of the tens of thousands of Covid-19 inspired entrepreneurs are creating products and services that will succeed in the long-term, but by going through these steps, more of today’s innovations will be the ones that people are using years and decades from now.
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