Starting a Business During COVID-19

A woman showcasing how to design clothes. Photo by Gustavo Fring.

The Coronavirus has deeply impacted the norms and routines of our lives. It has robbed some of their lives, many of our jobs, and all of us the ability to be physically close to grieve. Yet amidst this upheaval, the pandemic has also sparked an incredible surge of creativity and ingenuity in many to start businesses that make us feel close even when we need to be far apart.

I do understand that starting a business during a pandemic is not for everyone. Taking care of your mental health means stepping back and focusing on yourself. But for those who want to use this time to shift your physical business online, monetize your side hustle, or start something wildly new, I want to give you the tools to turn the spark of a potentially great idea into a business. So, I have compiled a series of blogs to walk you through the process of conceiving, building, and launching a company in as little as 48 hours for under $100.

This series includes:

  • How to Build A Great Website (Part I, Part II)
  • Effectively use Zoom to have great digital events
  • Set up a payment system
  • Create an email list to grow your community
  • Use social media to scale
  • Build for Resilience

Below I compiled a list of how a broad array of companies are moving their operations digital to get you inspired!

While you read about these companies, keep a few questions in mind:

  • Who are the customers these companies serve?
  • What value do they provide?
  • What makes them feel unique?

Live-Streamed Workouts

Social distancing can kill your motivation — or get you to work even harder for your post-quarantine bod. Brian Von Ancken has transitioned his workout classes online to help people workout with others and get feedback on their form from the comfort of home. Members break out into distinct “rooms” to meet each other and build a sense of community during the classes, all while holding a plank position.

A workout class over Zoom. Photo from Brian Von Ancken.

Cooking Classes

A cooking class from a chef, right in your kitchen. Photo from The Chef & Dish.

Got a flair for cooking? The Chef & the Dish is a business where chefs around the world can Skype into your kitchen to show you everything from basic cutting techniques to making a perfect fricassee. You can extend your cooking repertoire for couples who want a special date night in isolation, or your friend who wants to make bread because everyone on Instagram seems to be doing it.

Drones Galore

If you have a drone, you’re in luck because social distancing has created many different opportunities for drone pilots. Real estate agents have begun hiring people to show houses via drone. If you also have a photographic flair, remember people are still having important life events, from weddings, births, christenings, and funerals. Many still want professionally taken photos….but from a distance.

Music Classes

As late-nights at the bar are no longer a possibility, people are remembering the instruments they stashed in their closets. You can post your skills to Masterclass, or build your own client base.

Woman teaching guitar. Photo by Andrea Piacquiado.

Virtual Events

People still want to feel a sense of togetherness even when they are apart. If you were the socialite in the physical world, you can turn your knack for bringing people together to create interesting virtual events like Wine Party’s virtual wine classes. People can simultaneously learn about wine’s history and meet new people, all while in sweatpants.

Photo from Wine Basically.

Dating from Your House

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to make people want to pair off. If you were that friend constantly introducing potential couples at house parties, you can still do so from your own house. On MyCheekyDate, each participant meets others for 7–8 minutes, and when the time is up, participants can reach out to organizers for the email addresses of their top picks.

Photo from MyCheekyDate.

Getting Crafty

Whether it is a family bored on a Friday night, or a group of friends that all want to do something together, if you have a knack for crafts you have the potential to host interactive digital workshops. You might even create partnerships with other small businesses to deliver craft supplies to people’s doors.

Photo from The Neon Tea Party.

Classes for HomeSchooled Kids

Most childcare offerings are closed, which thrusts parents into the position of educating and entertaining their children all around the clock, often while they themselves still need to work. If you love to build, code, or craft, you can share this love with kids around the world, all while giving their parents some much needed respite. One company already offering these remote classes is Big & Tiny.

Big & Tiny remote classes for school children. Photo from Big & Tiny.

Next Steps

Now that you have seen a broad array of different companies that have moved their operations online, you now need to answer these three questions for yourself:

  • Who are the customers these companies serve?
  • What value do they provide?
  • What makes them feel unique?

These core questions will help you define how you talk about your business and how you will present them to the world. Once you have written these answers down, it’s time to build a great website.



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