I recently attended a webinar taught by Gary Furukawa, the founder and CEO of Freestone Capital Management, a national financial advisory firm headquartered in Seattle. One of the slides resonated with me, as I connected the thoughts to founders of BAM businesses and the question of business opportunities. Mr. Furukawa suggested that the “Pandemic Accelerated Already Existing Trends.” Think of these in the context of business opportunities based on trends which already existed but are now even more relevant and urgent.
- Digital transformation and virtual communication
Think about all the opportunities for webinars, podcasts, sales models, digital marketing etc. that seemed non-existent or irrelevant just a year ago. Now, it seems to have potential for new businesses and for growing existing ones. This may be a place to start: Digital Marketing: How To Make Money With Webinars
- Global to local
Global to Local focuses on spending time with grassroots change-makers, who have identified a need in their own communities and work towards solutions to address those needs. Today, there is real interest in supporting local entrepreneurs. When it comes to BAM objectives, we can participate in the opportunities which abound; not just in technology, but in almost any sector. For the past two years, I have been on an evaluation team at Seattle Pacific University’s Social Venture Entrepreneurship contest. The top businesses included a greenhouse system for the arctic, human waste solution for Mt. Everest climbers, a retrofit for India’s mopeds, career services in support of international students, and peer-to-peer tutoring.
- Demise of physical retail and mall real estate
It remains unclear what this all means in North America and certainly overseas as well. But just as one example; one survey indicated that over 70% of respondents indicated that now compared to a year ago, they wanted to work closer to home. So, with so much mall and big-box retail space empty around the country, entrepreneurs will surely come up with plans to utilize inexpensive space close to home that meets new criteria of a post-pandemic workforce. Maybe the same will apply to educators. For example, I know of a group of fully credentialled and qualified teachers getting together to provide higher quality, lower cost “return to the basics”, high tech elementary and secondary education in competition to the high cost (and in many cases dysfunctional) public system. BAM entrepreneurs could do that in any vacant factory or store front anywhere in the world.
- Online shopping and “instant gratification”
What opportunities might exist due to all that we have recently experienced about shopping online? What might we innovate based on the demand for “now”? When the USA experienced a shortage of face masks in the spring of 2020, Freedom Business Alliance Executive Director, Rachel Nelson, set in motion a supply chain to get masks quickly from freedom businesses in Asia to US markets. This meant retrofits in some cases, but there was a need for instant gratification in the USA and everyone benefited.
- The college value proposition in question
Parents and college students are questioning the value of a $300,000 (or more) education at a second or third tier school, many of which will default in the next ten years. Distance education and apprentice learning may provide opportunities for new education forms. Business incubators and accelerators may be a model for other startup programs at all levels – cheaper and more productive than the systems in place today. Note the amazing success of the University of Phoenix and other distance programs. What about primary and secondary education for children? Competitive programs with smaller groups can still be fiscally competitive while being more productive. I look at my own city’s public system, costing $20,000 per student per year with diminishing results. Entrepreneurial business startups can do better.
- Accelerated deployment of electronic health records and “E-visits” by medical professionals
Such changes create all kinds of opportunities for software creatives, designers, and medical administrators
Does anyone see business opportunities in any of these trends? Think in terms of the axiom, “Trials force us to innovate”. Now is the time for many entrepreneurs in the BAM space.
Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures