As entrepreneurs, we’re optimists.
As a result, where others see COVID-19 as a barrier, we see it as an opportunity.
What Can The Global Financial Crisis Teach Us About Coronavirus (COVID-19) Opportunities?
Uber reached Australia in October 2012.
Prior to this, I had only used trains and the occasional taxi to travel to and from meetings. Occasionally I would drive and pay excessive parking fees in Sydney’s CBD, but this was unnecessary given I was only two train stops from the city.
Following the global financial crisis, Uber launched in Sydney. I remember encouraging my family to use Uber with me for the first time during the holiday period of December 2012. I didn’t need to instruct the driver on the precise route, nor worry about paying at the end. The whole idea seemed too easy. Getting out of that Uber and watching the car drive off without asking me for any cash was surreal.
It was awesome.
That was over 7 years ago, and I haven’t looked back. Until now.
Uber was born after the global financial crisis. This was the last globally impactful instance of a huge change driven by entrepreneurial hunger, and Uber wasn’t the only business that was born during this period.
Other businesses founded during or after the global financial crisis include Pinterest, Instagram, WhatsApp, Groupon, and Slack.
It is by spending this time critically analysing human behaviour and critiquing it that we will be able to reinvent how things are done. Entrepreneurs need to be the people driving this change.
I can’t take credit for this paradigm shift though. I was recently able to discuss this idea with my returning guest Tim Draper on The Venture Podcast. Tim is a Silicon Valley investor who has invested in businesses such as Hotmail, Skype, Testla, SpaceX, and Twitter. He is also the venture capitalist of Elon Musk.
What Are The Opportunities During Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
By spending time to critically analyse the world around us, we’re able to identify opportunities that could present themselves during and post COVID-19.
Opportunities That Boost Efficiency with Coronavirus (COVID-19)
What we are doing on a daily basis has drastically changed. We don’t spend time travelling to and from work, providing us with a more efficient work day. We are spending time with only those who matter most to us, with friends we used to spend time with due to convenience no longer being a regular part of our lives. We are, in short, becoming much more efficient with our time.
In a world of 10 second videos for entertainment, a virus was the catalyst for an even higher degree of efficiency.
I have no doubt many will go back to the same routine when this is all over. However, I strongly believe this will be with an attitude that challenges the need for what was the norm. Therefore, I encourage you to look at opportunities that reduce time wastage and boost efficiency during this period, as they are incredibly likely to sustain post lockdown.
Opportunities That Commoditise Talent with Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The day before my business Station Five enforced work from home, a mentor told me to keep an eye on my staff, as this arrangement exposes the work effort of the team. This happens because working from home makes the output of a team and its members very quantifiable with dialogue not interrupting.
It becomes obvious very quickly who the most productive members of your team are, and how they operate. The short and medium term impact of this is evolution of a modern team that is far more productive, with output as the primary focus. Output is so critical at present as businesses fight to survive, and having a high output is directly correlated with many organisations remaining afloat.
However, there’s no guarantee this mindset will cease post coronavirus.
If this becomes the standard post coronavirus too, we could be looking at a world where output is the primary focus of many businesses, which could eventually lead to a commoditisation of talent.
In my opinion, this won’t happen across the board. However, professional services firms in particular could face a major overhaul. This creates a huge opportunity for organisations that can evolve in anticipation of this change.
Opportunities That Decentralise Ownership with Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Decentralising ownership is the primary opportunity I discussed with Tim Draper in the aforementioned podcast.
- We are seeing politicians react in real time to the evolution of coronavirus.
- We are seeing uncertainty from the world’s elite decision makers.
- We are seeing economic decisions that could lead to global inflation and affect us all for a very long time.
In short, there is huge change coming about that we are at the mercy of, and cannot control.
During my podcast with Tim Draper, we discussed the opportunities in decentralisation. Tim stated:
“There are major opportunities in decentralisation. That is one major field that can cross across many different industries and can create new industries. We have a company called Unstoppable where you can get a dot crypto domain and you can put anything you want on it. And it is decentralised. It doesn’t have a centralised source that can muzzle you or tell you you can’t say “Free Tibet in China” or whatever. It is true free speech for the entire world. And I think that kind of thing is going to be really a big deal.”
Decentralisation presents huge opportunities for the world. The technology for this has been evolving since 3 January 2009, when Satoshi Nakamoto created a digital currency owned by no government or institution called Bitcoin. Activists have been pushing for its widespread usage since, and Tim is a fond believer that this needs to become the norm.
The challenge with decentralisation is that push back from governments and institutions prevents its mass adoption, which has been the case thus far. However, if it were to be adopted on a global scale, the transformation would be incomparable. In Tim’s words:
“I believe that insurance, real estate, health care, finance, banking, commerce and government, all the biggest industries in the world are all in for a transformation. So if you’re an entrepreneur today, think of how you can take these new technologies; bitcoin, blockchain, smart contracts, artificial intelligence, deep learning and apply them to those big industries. And you will have a major success if you can and would hedge your way into those industries.
“The biggest industries in the world are all in for a transformation.”
While blockchain provides a huge opportunity for disruption through decentralisation, it isn’t the only avenue. Platform entrepreneurship, a topic I discussed with Ted Ladd (podcast coming soon), is the act of connecting buyers with sellers through two sided marketplaces. This creates a potential opportunity without the requirement for blockchain technologies.
I encourage you as entrepreneurs to start challenging the norm, and strongly considering what needs to come next. I will leave you with the last words of Tim, which inspired me to start taking action:
“People are going to get very creative right now. First of all, there’s been a shock to the system. We’ve done a reset on the earth. People are trapped in their houses. They are able to start to really think they think about what’s important to me with what matters. And then they can start thinking, well, what would matter to other people? And then they can figure out how they can make money with those things that matter to other people.“