Who says it’s a bad time to open a business?

It has been crazy these past weeks, and I hope you are all staying as safe and sane as possible. Nothing is certain and everything seems unbelievably frightening right now. I have heard from many of you asking how to reinvent the “old business idea” with a new one that would still work in the present crisis.

This requires thinking outside the box and looking at the many ways existing businesses have had to pivot. Also, I encourage you to take a look at your own new spending/shopping habits, and you will start unraveling an abundance in business opportunities.

Below are a few of my own:

Hyper-local distribution companies

Canada is putting a big emphasis on not having to rely on international companies to produce products or services that could easily be found or manufactured in-house. So now more than ever, there’s a big surge in supporting local businesses and local products.

Consumer behaviour is supporting the smaller producers, the local farmers and local meats. In the food industry, there are two big players: Gordon Food Services and Sysco. However, these companies sell only to businesses (restaurants and other food establishments), but not direct to consumers. As well, these companies rarely offer local inventory.

Based on this, I truly believe there is room for hyper-local food distribution companies that can establish strong relationships with local farmers and producers and bring a wide array of these products direct to consumers. Think of it as a farmer’s market straight to the consumers’ doors via an e-commerce shop or small distribution/pick-up centres.

Gig Economy / Freelance Opportunities

In the past, other global crises have also lead to opportunities. In the words of Ottawa serial entrepreneur, Steve Cody:

  • The great depression lead to the rental industry
  • The ’08 recession lead to Airbnb
  • The pandemic of 2020 will most likely improve the gig economy

What is the Gig Economy?

Maybe some of you would like to look into freelance or gig opportunities. Over the past several years, this type of work has become more and more common. Instead of the typical “9 to 5” work day, many professionals are choosing to work at times and places that are more convenient – think independent contractors, delivery drivers, cleaning services, freelancers. The gig economy jobs are normally paid per piece — like a set rate to deliver a package or a fare to a write a piece of content, or create a website. With the current work from home order and companies looking to cut or limit staff costs, this lifestyle is picking up, which is great news when it comes to opening up any kind of freelance business.

Ghost Restaurants / Cloud Kitchens

If you had been planning to open up your own restaurant, now is a very risky time to do it. High overhead costs (rent, staffing, etc.) make it prohibitive to make a profit on a regular day, and more so during this pandemic that forces restaurants to work at a very limited capacity. However, there is definitely a great alternative that is only a matter of time until they start popping up. A ghost restaurant or cloud kitchen is a food establishment that does not have a physical location, but merely prepares and delivers food – usually through a commercial or shared kitchen. There are no tables, no serving staff and the kitchen rent is usually shared among a group of other food-related businesses.

Even though these types of restaurants are still not considered entirely “legal” in Canada, the current pandemic situation creates an extreme need for them and an opportunity worth keeping an eye on.

Online Retail Store

Have you been thinking about opening your own store? With it being discouraged for people to venture outdoors right now, this might seem impossible, however it can translate into a different entrepreneurial opportunity. By creating an online store instead, you will be reaching so many potential customers, as ordering online has become the new normal for everyone.

Canadian darling Shopify allows you to have an e-commerce site in no time and is offering a 90-day free trial. For more information and a step-by-step guide on how to do it, check this out.

Delivery / Courier companies

Due to this increase in online shopping, home delivery companies are experiencing a busier than usual schedule right now. They say they are just as busy as during the holiday season! What does this mean for you? You guessed it – right now, opening a delivery or courier business would be a huge hit.

Think about the different types of delivery you could offer:

  • Subcontracted restaurant delivery for those food establishments that want to have an alternative delivery method than that of third party apps
  • Grocery home delivery – are there local apartment buildings that would benefit from this service? Take advantage of the volume a larger building can bring
  • Kijiji products delivery – as people look to maximize their dollars, Kijiji is seeing a surge in business. Providing a seller to buyer delivery service will offer convenience to your potential clients
  • Think about all those industries that still require pen-and-paper document signing: law firms are a good example. Is there an opportunity to do same-day city-wide delivery?

Other side hustles

If any of the above options don’t work for you, there are other side hustles you can look into. With everyone staying at home, the online world of business is busier than ever. What does this mean for an immpreneur? Here are a couple examples of how this can translate into a business opportunity:

  • Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and many other e-commerce sites are great for selling your stuff to make some extra money. There are people who decide to create a “store” on these sites and “specialize” in selling within a niche market (i.e. used electronics, used comics, used maternity clothing)
  • Ruckify: this is a fairly new Canadian site that lets you create your own “rental store.” Think about the items you have in your ho me that you have only used a couple of times – is there anyone that could benefit in renting it from you for a few days? It’s a win-win-win. You make some money renting something you already have, someone saves money by renting and not buying, and ultimately we help the environment by doing this. You can rent anything – from a sledgehammer to an evening gown and everything in between.

Even though there are a lot of challenges in the world right now, there are also many opportunities once you stop and think about them. I have a few questions for you and I’d love to hear your thoughts:

  1. How have you been dealing with everything that is going on?
  2. What other business ideas have you come across?
  3. Did any of these ideas sound like the right fit for you?