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Entrepreneurship in the Time of a Pandemic

Is it possible for something so destructive to produce good?


The answer, as history would tell us, is yes. Major crises in the past created so much devastation but also provided opportunities for renewal. The 1918 Spanish Flu, for instance,  made more governments realize the importance of universally accessible healthcare. The Asian financial crisis of 1997 produced financial reforms that to this day have helped economies like the Philippines achieve spectacular growth rates and stability.


It is too early to say what reforms the Coronavirus Pandemic would result in but it is clear that there are a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurship. The pandemic and the lockdowns that were imposed by many governments have devastated entrepreneurs worldwide. I lamented in my previous column how this crisis has virtually wiped out the new breed of entrepreneurs created by the economic growth we have sustained for decades. But the pandemic has also created opportunities for a new class of innovators.


This is mainly due to the fact that the pandemic has altered the way we live and the way we behave. If the experts are right, it seems that this coronavirus will stay with us for a long time and these new consumer behaviors will remain. This means that entrepreneurs need to adapt to this “new normal.”


These new circumstances create new needs. The virus has forced most people to stay at home. Even with the relaxed quarantine rules that have been in place since May 15, most people are still shunning going outside. This has caused problems to businesses that traditionally rely on the mobility of people to increase sales.


But this new condition has given rise to a new class of online entrepreneurs. You have existing businesses that strengthened their online stores in order to cope. And there are the new entrepreneurs who sell and resell a variety of stuff online. The explosion of online entrepreneurship has been so big that the Bureau of Internal Revenue has taken notice!


But the key to success is not to be content with your current success. The question these new entrepreneurs should answer now is this: how do you make this sustainable in the medium and long term? Your business cannot be just a fad that will excite people but bore them later on. 

I love the fact that most of these entrepreneurs are doing what they love. You have a lot of people who love to bake who are now selling their baked goods online. You have pet lovers who, understanding the needs of pet owners, have set up an online store for pet care products. You have someone who is into farming and is now selling fruits and vegetables online for delivery.


One of my favorite entrepreneurs Warren Buffet once wrote, “In the world of business, the people who are most successful are those who are doing what they love.” By most successful, he was referring not to those who made big money one time but to someone who made that success sustainable.


Remember that doing what you love is very important but is not enough. I have seen many people who went to business doing what they love but sadly failed in their enterprise. You need to develop and hone your business skills, find the right networks that will help you build your business, create a system that will support and sustain the business that you love.


And this is the same lesson I want to share with new entrepreneurs. The circumstances might be different but the lesson stays the same: Find what you love, understand what people need, then do something about it, and do it well.



Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar