Reimagining the Start-Up Incubator for the age of COVID

The idea for early-stage companies to share facilities in a business incubator became popular in the 1970s and 1980s.  These incubators offer startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses the support, expertise and tools necessary to succeed in increasingly competitive markets. Then, as e-commerce blossomed, brick and mortar businesses have been further squeezed, causing many business to adapt to survive--and so sharing workspace became economical. Benefits were seen, to be sure, and the law of serendipity meant that chance meetings could reap big rewards. Not to mention when you have a creative team it is often helpful to have them in the same room. But as we face this COVID recovery period, any sharing of space or face-to-face with customers is just not in the cards. So retail and the service professions again take the squeeze. The future seems bleak for face-to-face business.

It’s not all doom and gloom--it is possible to navigate all of this. Taking the time to comprehensively rethink, as owner-operators we must be open to a change of plans. It is true that in times of crisis there are opportunities, and with a little creativity it is possible to make that all-important pivot. AND by keeping it local and collaborating with other neighboring businesses it will be possible to create relationships that let a business expand their service offerings.

Let me give you an example: as COVID sent us all into lockdown this spring, it was exactly when the local famer’s markets would have been heating up. A local farmer could not sell produce at markets that didn’t exist anymore, and not having the luxury of storing the merchandise as it is bound to spoil, the farmer needed to think quickly. Setting up a tent, he started a drive-through farm stand. Customers were shown what fresh produce was available and it was loaded into their trunk, selected, paid for, and loaded with minimum contact. Soon it became apparent that it was working and they paired with a butcher shop, dairy farm, bakery and ice cream maker--all local businesses that no longer had anywhere to sell their goods. They even included a local distillery that pivoted to making hand sanitizer. Everybody wins, and nowhere on the internet is such quality or freshness available. Eat your heart out Jeff Bezos.

On the other end of the spectrum was the small music shop whose owner was surviving on instrument rental and selling sheet music to the local high school band. When schools closed and he could no longer give face-to-face lessons, he was forced to shut for good. He couldn’t see the opportunity to offer virtual lessons or digitize the sheet music and make it available or offer a COVID compliant instrument cleaning service. I would have started a monthly subscription service that supplied clean mouthpieces for whatever your instrument, like Harry’s supplies razors.

It is true that it takes a little creativity and not every business owner or employer comes with creativity built-in, which is why it’s important to network and collaborate. If you are running THE local “contact free” farm stand and you don’t know that the local distillery has pivoted into making hand sanitizer, you are missing out on a whole new revenue stream that you didn’t even know existed!

That’s where a a business development guidance counselor comes in. As enablers of wealth and job creation, with Web Samurai for Hire's newly-launched creativity incubator, it will be possible for Main Street businesses to collaborate on a virtual main street, helping businesses to take a systematic approach to staying in touch with the ideas that will help you survive and thrive during these uncertain times. Tackling many of the growing list of societal issues from the grass roots, where the community supports the businesses in it, the businesses employ the community and the purchasing power stays local.

We have the tools at our disposal to formulate the development strategy and create the physical technology infrastructure. Plus, Web Samurai is working with industry and civic leaders to ensure that all business have COVID mitigation best practices in place to instill maximum safety and consumer confidence.

With the help of Web Samurai for Hire and this innovative new idea mill, businesses at any level will find ways to:

·       Validate your business with customers

·       Precisely articulate the positioning of your business solution

·       Find a path to Monetization

·       Define a streamlined strategy for Customer Acquisition

·       Navigate the differentiated strategies and infrastructure hardware to promote virtual connections across Web, Mobile and Social Selling platforms.

No single entrepreneur has all the tools. Not everyone is imbued with creativity, determination, acumen and the best knowledge of the most powerful technologies on the planet; but collaboration with others that can augment your skill set will always help. Few can be the Steve Jobs, but even he needed his Jony Ivy to truly shine. With great partnership comes great opportunity and with the vision to capitalize on that opportunity comes great wealth. Web Samurai for Hire can help.

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