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3 steps Houston entrepreneurs need to take to find opportunity during a crisis

Tomorrow, August 21, is World Entrepreneurs' Day, and it comes during a trying time for entrepreneurs everywhere. Here are three tips for business leaders operating during the pandemic. Photo via Getty Images

As company leaders approach the fourth quarter of 2020 and plan for 2021, many accept the fact that Houston's business landscape may look a bit different moving forward. Instead of the pandemic becoming a paralyzing force, new and eager business owners are committed to incorporating creative solutions.

These innovators have found ways to focus efforts to better serve customers in the transitioning economic landscape. The shift opens the door to new opportunity, and while the business outlook continues to evolve, some argue that times of crisis provide just as much, if not more, opportunity for entrepreneurs to find their footing. The past has shown that organizations can grow when faced with adversity and their resiliency in the earliest stages helps create a sturdy foundation.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, twenty percent of small businesses fail within the first year, and by the tenth year, only about a third of businesses have survived. While these numbers may be intimidating to a new business owner, the measurements have proven consistent over time. This means success rates are less dependent upon the state of the economy and more dependent upon the creativity and drive of the entrepreneur leading the efforts.

Times of uncertainty and economic change bring focus to new obstacles, expose weaknesses in business structure and highlight the need for innovation. Strategic entrepreneurs can capitalize on these opportunities by introducing solutions that respond to the current reality consumers face. In honor of World Entrepreneurs' Day on August 21, below are steps to consider when launching a business during a time of crisis.

Plan for current conditions

It is always important for new business owners to plan for the future and be flexible enough to adjust them to the current environment. If a five-year plan is based on the premise of business returning to its pre-COVID-19 scale, the entrepreneur will likely face substantial challenges in the future.

Business plans should incorporate solutions to areas of weakness that have been brought to light by recent events. It may also be helpful to seek customer feedback early in the company's lifecycle to ensure audience opinion serves as a cornerstone in ongoing strategic development. Understanding if the business's premise will drive value and benefit consumers, even in difficult times, can help the organization prepare for future crises.

Identify gaps

In many ways, the pandemic identified business strategies that may no longer be relevant and provided insight into the economy's future. New entrepreneurs hold the advantage of witnessing what worked, what did not and applying the new knowledge to their plan.

The importance of flexibility, adaptable services, a strong digital brand presence and solid SEO practices all proved critical to a business's ability to remain both relevant and successful this year. When starting a company in times of economic uncertainty, identifying ways to bridge gaps and capitalize on windows of opportunity can help establish a competitive edge early on.

Seek out support

It is no surprise that, especially in the early stages, running a startup may be overwhelming. It is key for small business owners to feel comfortable asking for help and to seek out support early on. Consider joining business networks and local industry alliances to learn from others. Particularly in times of crisis and uncertainty, it can be beneficial to learn from seasoned professionals, as well as peers, and to welcome support from others who have found success during trying times.

Business support can be advantageous as well. While outsourcing may appear costly, the value of industry experts to assist with marketing strategy development, human resources and benefits, or financial management can be highly beneficial, especially in the development phase.

The early stages of an organization can make or break the success of a company, and though many questions surround the state of business during times of uncertainty, the entrepreneurial opportunity is still available for small business growth and success.

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Jill Chapman is a senior performance consultant with Houston-based Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

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Five research teams are studying space radiation's effect on human tissue. Photo via NASA/Josh Valcarcel

A Houston-based organization has named five research projects to advance the understanding of space radiation using human tissue. Two of the five projects are based in Houston.

The Translational Research Institute for Space Health, or TRISH, is based at Baylor College of Medicine and funds health research and tech for astronauts during space missions. The astronauts who are headed to the moon or further will be exposed to high Galactic Cosmic Radiation levels, and TRISH wants to learn more about the effects of GCR.

"With this solicitation, TRISH was looking for novel human-based approaches to understand better Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR) hazards, in addition to safe and effective countermeasures," says Kristin Fabre, TRISH's chief scientist, in a news release. "More than that, we sought interdisciplinary teams of scientists to carry these ideas forward. These five projects embody TRISH's approach to cutting-edge science."

The five projects are:

  • Michael Weil, PhD, of Colorado State University, Colorado — Effects of chronic high LET radiation on the human heart
  • Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, PhD of Columbia University, New York — Human multi-tissue platform to study effects of space radiation and countermeasures
  • Sharon Gerecht, PhD of Johns Hopkins University, Maryland — Using human stem-cell derived vascular, neural and cardiac 3D tissues to determine countermeasures for radiation
  • Sarah Blutt, PhD of Baylor College of Medicine, Texas — Use of Microbial Based Countermeasures to Mitigate Radiation Induced Intestinal Damage
  • Mirjana Maletic-Savatic, PhD of Baylor College of Medicine, Texas — Counteracting space radiation by targeting neurogenesis in a human brain organoid model

The researchers are tasked with simulating radiation exposure to human tissues in order to study new ways to protect astronauts from the radiation once in deep space. According to the release, the tissue and organ models will be derived from blood donated by the astronaut in order to provide him or her with customized protection that will reduce the risk to their health.

TRISH is funded by a partnership between NASA and Baylor College of Medicine, which also includes consortium partners Caltech and MIT. The organization is also a partner to NASA's Human Research Program.

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