Time To Start Your New Business? Opportunities During Tough Times

Time To Start Your New Business? Opportunities During Tough Times

Social distancing and stay-at-home policies continue on as we all struggle with the pandemic.  Many people face layoffs, furloughs, and unexpected unemployment.  Maybe now is a good time to think about that business you always wanted to start.

Self-Employment Increases During Difficult Times

Entrepreneurship grows in difficult times. Recessions, while always difficult to navigate, have fostered some of the most impressive companies in history. The Great Depression brought us GEDisney, and HP, who all benefited from marketing while their rivals cut back. The Great Recession brought companies which ushered us into the digital age and opened up the gig economy—Airbnb, Credit KarmaUberSlack, Venmo and Square.  And yes, this economic downturn is unique due to challenges Covid-19 poses.  Businesses involving  in-person client interaction, sales, or services are scrambling.  Yet,  savvy entrepreneurs find opportunities in any situation.  A quarantine entrepreneur can provide consulting, delivery and online tutorial services, or address a new need created because of the virus. 

Legal In A Box has focused on supporting may small businesses’ Covid-19 response efforts including consulting on re-opening measures and sharing Covid19 Release waivers and FFCRA Request forms. We are here to assist with your new business endeavor.  And to start, here are some great ideas and tips!

Businesses You Can Start Right Now

Following is a short list of business ideas that have had much success starting from home:

Graphic Design and Digital Marketing:  Graphic designers are in high demand – businesses need logos, websites, new animations and videos – all shapes and forms of content for their digital marketing!  Businesses not only need their regular marketing but also need to communicate any changes they’ve made, pivots to their business model and new modes of doing business to their clients quickly and professionally. 

Social Media Manager:  Using social media to promote business and engage with customers is booming!   Are you on top of the latest social media trends? Now is a good time for business to focus on increasing their online presence – but many don’t know where to begin.  Use your expertise to set up new social media account and demonstrate how to use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat or Instagram.  Curate content for them to post, create catchy hashtags and share the latest trends.

Online Tutoring: Use your background in education or tutoring.  With almost every school converting to online or hybrid delivery, millions of parents are looking for assistance! Many desperately need help teaching their kids while they work or take care of the home, but they are also afraid to bring help directly into their homes. If you are an educator (or you just really love 4th grade math), think about offering online tutoring services. 

Start Podcast or YouTube Channel: Are you a guru in a certain subject? Or have a unique hobby or skill? Do you like to research obscure topics or unusual stories? All you need is a decent microphone and webcam and you can start your own YouTube Channel or podcast. Use this time to iron out the kinks and grow your subscriber base.  Once the pandemic abates, you’ll have positioned yourself to convert all those eyes and ears into advertising dollars. Always remember, you don’t need to be good at the thing you’re doing if you are entertaining enough!

Open E-commerce Store: Have you become an expert in procuring high demand goods? Do people constantly tell you they love your homemade cookies? Your art? Your fashion designs? You can sell almost anything online and this may be a great time to set up that e-commerce store you’ve always been thinking about. Don’t want to bother with creating a whole new website? No worries. There are lots of platforms for DIYers. Check out:

Etsy,  ShopifyCargohZazzleArtFire, or  Indiemade.

Consulting: Having expertise in a particular industry or specialty professional skill puts you in a unique position to share your knowledge as a consultant.  Most consulting work can easily be done virtually. The key to consulting is knowing the value of your experiences, and finding customers who need the assistance. 

  • E-commerce consulting: Experience with Amazon, eBay or other e-commerce platforms? Help others launch their e-commerce store. Are you familiar with platforms like UberEats or Grubhub? Help restaurants and smaller retail businesses stay open by setting up an online order and delivery infrastructure. These are just two examples of e-commerce consulting. 
  • Professional Services:  All businesses need consultants to thrive.  If you are a recently laid off accountant, lawyer, PR  or other business professional, now may be the best time to think about offering your services as an independent contractor.

You can find even more ideas for at-home businesses here.

Plan Your Business

Once you have a business idea, create a business plan – a critical foundation for all small businesses. This plan should convince others to work with you, invest in you, and utilize your services. What will be your businesses’ strengths? Weaknesses? What market opportunities can you capitalize on? What are potential threats? 

There are a number of online resources to help you create a solid business plan including this guide from the U.S. Small Business Administration

In conjunction with drafting your plan you should also be thinking about: 

Fund Your Business: How much capital is needed to start your business? Having a solid budget and thought out plan will be crucial to securing funding from investors or lending from banks. Also consider alternatives like crowdfunding platforms.

Location: Something most investors will want to know before investing is where your business will operate. Decide if you want your business to be completely online or if you will also have a brick and mortar location. 

Business Structure: What structure will your business be – Partnership, LLC, an S-Corporation or a C-corporation?  This determines how business will be managed and taxed. You should consult with a lawyer and an accountant prior to making this decision. Start with this great overview.

Business Name: Choose your business name – and remember to  check the Secretary of State’s site to make sure the name is not already taken.

Branding aka Your Trademark(s): Your business name is not necessarily the same as your trademark. A trademark helps consumers know that your company is the source of your service or product. Indeed, your business may offer several different services or products, and each may have their own unique trademark. It is important to select a creative and memorable trademark that no one else is using. The more unique your trademark is, the easier it will be to enforce it. To get nationwide protection for your mark, you will need to seek a federal trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Learn more about trademarks and the process for applying for a trademark here. And if you are ready to start your Trademark, start here.

Business Licenses and Permits: Be sure to research any special licensing, permits or other certifications required. These will differ from state to state and depend on your business and its location. Without the proper license, your business may be fined or be operating illegally.

Business Insurance: Depending on the nature of your business and risks it may face; your business will likely need special insurance. Be sure to discuss these risks and the appropriate policies with an attorney,  accountant, and insurance broker.

Tax IDs and Business Bank Account:  Be sure to open a separate bank account, get a business EIN number, and keep great accounting records. If you start co-mingling your personal finances with your business’,  you can be personally liable for business debts or lawsuits.

Amy M. Toepper at AMT Law, LLC is a great resource to start your new business!  Their experienced attorneys will set-up your new LLC or Corporation, protect your intellectual property, draft business contracts and licensing agreements and help you stay in compliance.

If you have any questions about their services, please click here to book a consultation.

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