The COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of business, especially small business and entrepreneurship. This unprecedented time has presented both widespread challenges as well as opportunities for the business community.
Entrepreneurial centers like the Maestro Entrepreneur Center and LaunchSA have seen an increase in engagement. Ryan Salts, Director of LaunchSA, shared that his organization has seen a decline in walk-ins and physical interactions, but the online numbers are considerably higher.
“At the beginning of [COVID-19] we had a pretty significant uptick of existing business owners looking for support that was likely going to be financial related,” Salts said. “We’re actually seeing a 50/50 split between ‘[COVID-19] is a problem to my business’ and ‘I want to start a new business’.”
Salts noted that most of the businesses that began during this time are the ones that are generally easiest to get off the ground. These businesses include things like food related businesses, landscaping, or other usually accessible ideas. Salts believes that both free time and necessity are the reasons why people feel more entrepreneurial during this time.
Dr. Sergio Palacios, Associate Professor of Management (Entrepreneurship and Innovation) and Director of the Meadows Center for Entrepreneurial Studies believes challenges associated with COVID-19 encourage entrepreneurship.
“Necessity-based entrepreneurship is likely a contributing factor,” Dr. Palacios said. “As the job market presents more challenges for individuals, entrepreneurs arise which leads to creativity and innovation and opens doors to new ventures in times of economic adversity.”
According to Dr. Palacios, problem-solving may be another factor in the rise of entrepreneurial endeavors during COVID-19.
“Entrepreneurship is centered on solving problems for our customers by developing valuable solutions,” Dr. Palacios said. “The pandemic has provided a large number of new problems to solve.”
According to the Economic Innovation Group and data provided by the U.S Census Bureau, business formation and entrepreneurship have been surpassing historic levels since late May.
On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented logistical challenges for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Jamie Hernandez is the founder and chef of La Fonde De Jaime 2.0 food truck. Hernandez started his business early this fall and experienced challenges early on.
“The pandemic has made it harder to get things done and there were a few more delays then normal,” Hernandez said. “It has thrown a lot of obstacles in our way, but we know there’s a need for our type of service, as many people are still not comfortable with the idea of being in a restaurant or staying somewhere to eat.”
Since then, Hernandez has enjoyed a healthy growth after securing a spot at “The Block” at University of Texas at San Antonio and found a high demand for their food. Despite the perceived risk of the pandemic and having financial commitments, the team behind La Fonde pushed ahead.
“There never is a perfect time for anything in life, you just have to go all in, even if you’re scared,” Hernandez said. “If you have an idea and have the passion to make it happen go for it. There’s no time like the present.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented both challenges and opportunities for small businesses as well as entrepreneurs. According to Ryan Salts, risk is associated with virtually everything and innovation during this time may help in the entrepreneurial journey.
“There’s risk in everything, risk in crossing the street, and risk in being employed,” Salts said. “Would you rather help someone make money for them or make money for yourself? You can chase someone else’s dream, or you can chase your own.”