3 Pandemic Lessons That Entrepreneurs Are Taking with Them into 2022

In many ways, the pandemic has shaped (and in some cases completely transformed) how entrepreneurs do business. While there have been significant challenges, this time has also brought opportunities for growth, learning and improvement.

Here are three key pandemic takeaways from local entrepreneurs that can help you strengthen and advance your business.

1. Develop a plan and put it into action

On the way to launching your business, it can be easy to miss or postpone important steps in the process. While following the proper procedures for starting a business is always recommended (as well as finding a business coach or a class to help you along the way), it’s even more critical in this turbulent pandemic world.

For example, as many entrepreneurs began applying for federal relief dollars, gaps in their documentation instantly became clear and limited their access to much-needed assistance. The pandemic really hit home that getting your books in order can prime you to take advantage of future opportunities, especially in regard to financing and funding. (There are many classes and events on the KCSourceLink Calendar that can answer your questions and connect you to experts.)

Simply put, the pandemic has driven home why having and executing a detailed business plan or even a lean canvas must be a priority.

Chris Meier and Sam Yates of Yup Yup Design used the early days of the pandemic to pause and develop their business plan. The two Kansas City entrepreneurs also enrolled in the Missouri SBDC and UMKC’s ELEVATIONLAB New Venture class where they mapped out diverse revenue streams and set goals to enhance their business.

2. Get online: It’s the gateway to growth

At the start of the pandemic, the world was quickly forced to communicate and connect virtually. This rapid shift to doing almost everything online prompted businesses to take a closer look at their digital front doors. And those who had never engaged customers online before realized they had to embrace an e-commerce approach as part of their overall strategy to survive during and beyond the public health crisis.

The transition to doing more business online presents many opportunities to entrepreneurs previously only focused on foot traffic and the support of their local community.

Scott Bachman opened his brick-and-mortar store in historic downtown Chillicothe, Missouri, just months before the pandemic. Luckily, the owner of Bachman’s Farm Store had already built a website and was ready to take orders from across the country. During the lockdown, Scott’s sales shifted from 100% coming through Bachman’s Farm Store’s physical location to 90% of his total sales being online. In just five weeks, Scott says his pivot to digital marketing and sales added almost 300 customers.

3. Take advantage of expanded funding pathways

In 2020, U.S. education technology startups raised over $2.2 billion in venture and private equity capital across 130 deals — the highest investment total in a single year for the U.S. ed-tech industry.

This nearly 30% increase from 2019 is just one example of how much the pandemic has skyrocketed demand for tech startups. In addition, the increase in digital communication has made the world more accessible. These changes have benefited many Kansas City entrepreneurs who can now connect with investors all over the country and tap into networks that aren’t locally available to startups.

The UMKC Innovation Center and KC Digital Drive created Comeback KC Ventures to help accelerate innovations, products or service lines that are solving needs exposed by the pandemic. On a rolling basis, the program will recruit 20 entrepreneurs in the Kansas City metro to participate in a fellows group focused on networking with peers and investors, training and counseling. The goal is to sprint toward 10 new high-growth potential companies that generate 30 new jobs and $5 million in follow-on funding by October 2022.

And if you’re curious about other funding vehicles for your business, explore the Loans, Grants an Funding Guide.

By capitalizing on the lessons learned from the pandemic, entrepreneurs have a chance to course correct for 2022 and even thrive on the other side of these uncertain times.

Photo: Ann Millington Photography

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