In the middle of the present pandemic there are still reasons for optimism when it comes to true entrepreneurship. At a time when many traditional businesses are suffering and where unemployment is rising, one needs to look at the opportunities that are there for the taking.
Firstly, we need to recognise that, however much we long for normality, for some time yet the world has changed and it may be forever. We have arrived at a place where time has less meaning and where we seem to have forever to do the things that used to need to be timetabled.
Weekends are no longer sacrosanct as one day merges into another and so waking time, bedtime, gardening time etc. are no longer scheduled in. People like myself have decided to shun the weekly supermarket shop in favour of online ordering. People now shop if they need to; on line if they can; and don’t regard shopping malls as a safe haven for wet Sundays.
This has given us more time to sit and think; to contemplate problems and potential solutions and to talk and to see the opportunities opening up.
For the entrepreneur this gives the opportunity to evaluate the changing world and to plan to provide solutions. It was probably that thinking time that allowed the Turkish business owner that made face masks to come up with a unique solution to his manufacturing and shipping issues.
This boss recognised that his big orders from countries were often over a million units. Making them and then shipping them would take too long and so he bought three car cargo ships and put the manufacturing facility on board. Now the masks get made on their way to the destination thereby reducing overall delivery times.
This practice could easily be applied to other manufacturing problems where volumes are high and where reducing delivery times gives a competitive advantage. Moreover, in the long term, the cost of a floating facility is quicker and easier to effect than building a facility in a country whose rules and regulations you do not necessarily know or understand.
The changing world also creates opportunities in the area of home working. Many companies will have seen that they can reduce their property costs without any obvious loss of productivity. With the reservation on home working receding then the opportunities are there for solutions that address areas such as evaluations, cooperative and team working and the isolation issues that may come from the new method of working.
Education too will see changes. Countries where online tuition is well established have faired better than those that have limited adaptability to such teaching. I was in total admiration for the children in the villages up in the mountains behind my home where they walked 4 km each way to get a good Internet signal.
With increased online education will come new ways of testing. In Oxford there were concerns that online examinations would require a camera pan in the room where the test was taking place to make sure that there was nothing there to allow cheating. The snowflakes objected to the invasion of their personal space and yet could offer no other way of effective checking by the remote invigilator.
In Asia they are already adapting their testing to remove the possibility of cheating by eliminating the single right answer question that tests memory rather than understanding. In Asia they are requiring students to demonstrate their understanding by producing pictures, charts, or presentations to test understanding.
Another area where the opportunities exist is in tackling climate change. This pandemic has shown, often visibly, that the climate can be improved. No longer is it an inevitable slide into oblivion. Entrepreneurs can benefit from this window of opportunity. Indeed, before the community spirit slips back into selfishness, we also need to maximise the interest in social enterprises that have also flourished during the pandemic.
This pandemic will also create many unemployed who may well have thought of self-employment in the past but have resisted leaving the security of employment.
Now, whether unemployed or sitting at home with time of your hands while you are furloughed, this is the chance to follow your dream. Provided you recognise the new parameters those that do so will not recreate the past but will adapt and create the new normal.