This Insights article was contributed by Heather McWhorter, Regional Director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC). Heather believes that everyone has entrepreneurial superpowers that can be developed and that everyone should have equal access to starting a business because, after all, it is the American dream.
2020 has been a year full of unexpected events and has made many of us step back and look at life a little differently. While those of us who are on the frontline of helping businesses are witnessing business closures at alarming rates, we are also seeing something else: a surge in new business creation. This surge is giving us hope for an even stronger economy and region in the future.
This is not just a feel-good story. The data shows that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolinians are starting job-creating businesses at a record-breaking pace -- with the largest spike in a decade in the third quarter of 2020 (Source: U.S. Census Bureau). Entrepreneurs are creating new businesses for a variety of reasons, but three drivers lead: 1) new market opportunities due to our changed world, 2) extra downtime to take on new innovative businesses, and 3) a need to make a living due to layoffs and reduced wages. Whatever the reason, the surge in new business formation is good news for our region’s future.
In the midst of a pandemic, it may seem a little crazy to start a business. However, past economic downturns have proven to be a great breeding ground for successful startups. A few notable startups created during the Great Recession include:
- Airbnb (2007)
- Groupon (2008)
- Slack (2009)
- Square (2009)
- Uber (2009)
- Venmo (2009)
Why is now the best time to start a business? First, entrepreneurs starting now can be part of the energy of surge in entrepreneurship and innovation. It is easy to virtually network with other entrepreneurs now in the region and outside of the region who are also building businesses.
Second, most people have more downtime due to the continued social distancing requirements and curfews, so why not make the best of the situation? Instead of binging on Netflix, individuals with business ideas can work on customer discovery, competitive research, and more from the comfort of their home.
Third, and most importantly, an idea without action is nothing in the entrepreneurship world. Entrepreneurship is about taking that idea and doing something with it. Today. So why not seize the moment now and start working on the business idea? Everyone has ideas, but only a few take those ideas and turn them into something.
If you decide that you are ready to start working on your business idea, the first step is to connect with the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Wilmington region (which, by the way, was ranked 91st in the world by Startup Genome!). To connect to the top-notch entrepreneurial mentors in our region, connect with one of more than a dozen organizations that provide free assistance to entrepreneurs to help them get started. Learn more about the organizations at the Wilmington Business Coalition website here: https://small-business-success-wnc.com/the-coalition-supporting-small-businesses
Finally, check out the SBTDC’s Taking the Leap program, which is a free virtual 4-week class that helps people turn ideas into businesses. More information at: http://www.sbtdc.org/takingtheleap/
Start working on the new business idea today. You won’t regret it.
Robert T. Burrus, Jr., Ph.D., is the dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, named in June 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Prior to his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance. Burrus earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. The Cameron School of Business has approximately 90 full-time faculty members and 30 administrative and staff members. The AACSB-accredited business school currently enrolls approximately 2,600 undergraduate students in three degree programs and 750 graduate students in four degree programs. The school also houses the prestigious Cameron Executive Network, a group of more than 200 retired and practicing executives that provide one-on-one mentoring for Cameron students. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].