What can startups teach us about thriving in a crisis?

Four models entrepreneurs should consider as they pivot during the pandemic

August 4, 2020
Entrepreneurship, Innovation

Although COVID-19 has led to unprecedented challenges for businesses, some lucky startups have actually found ways to fuel their growth.

“Startups in the areas of remote healthcare and last-mile logistics have had gasoline thrown on their fires,” said Jamie N. Jones, executive director for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

However, for the large share of firms taking revenue hits from the pandemic, they may find inspiration from startups when considering how to change their approach, said Jones, who is also an associate management professor.

During a live discussion on LinkedIn, Jones offered four models for entrepreneurs to look for new revenue streams, such as changing the solution the firm is delivering and changing the customer base (see video). She also detailed these strategies on her blog.

“Many people have heard of small and large firms transitioning their production lines to produce essential items such as personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer,” Jones said on LinkedIn. These are great short-term examples, she said, but firms also need to think about revenue strategies that go beyond addressing near-term shortages.

Firms may be hesitant to take risks on new products or services, but the current environment might offer a softer landing for missteps.

“What’s interesting right now is on the consumer side, customers and consumers are really willing to offer a lot of grace in the sense that you can try something new and if it doesn’t work, unlike previously, it may not be as disruptive to your brand,” Jones said. “I think everyone knows that we’re all trying to figure this out, and I see a big window of opportunity to take bold, calculated risks.”

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