UNPOPULAR OPINION: Launching a Business in 2020

It’s May 2020, and we are right in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis and all of the uncertainty that comes with it.

I’ve been paying attention to the conversations happening on podcasts, YouTube channels, and inside Facebook groups, and I’ve actually been quite surprised at the comments being made.

Understandably, a lot of people are feeling scared and stuck, and like their dreams are on pause.

However, the surprising part to me is that a lot of prospective business owners are completely HALTING their plans, instead of adapting them and continuing to move forward.

While I’m not recommending that any leases get signed or any permanent decisions get made until we are more clear on how long social distancing will last, there is SO MUCH that anyone can be doing RIGHT NOW to set their future business up for success when they do decide to open their doors-- whether those doors be virtual for an online business, or physical for a brick-and-mortar business. 

Will things need to change? Yes. Will some industries be permanently impacted and need to make changes to keep up with safety standards and changing consumer preferences?

Yes, of course. I’m not suggesting things will EVER go back to “business as normal”.

However, is there ALSO so much opportunity to listen to what your future ideal clients are wanting and needing and fill that space? YES!

After all, MANY successful companies like Whatsapp, Venmo, Groupon, Instagram, Pinterest, Uber, Slack, Square were ALL founded during the 2008-2010 recession period! During a time where many people put all plans and ideas on pause-- these companies seized the opportunity in front of them and rose as future industry leaders. There will undoubtedly be another wave of innovators as a result of this potential future recession. 

The only question is-- will yours be one of them?

This is a wonderful time to be planning a business or even just starting to form connections and relationships with your potential future customers and clients.

Because when businesses DO start to re-open, people are going to want to patronize businesses they TRUST and have a relationship with. They want to feel safe, valued, and heard.

Hopefully this article will help give you some practical ideas on how to set your business up for future long-term sustainable success.

First, I want to discuss some business model trends I’m expecting to emerge as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.


Membership Models

Membership models not only offer reliable, recurring revenue for business owners (which has always been the strongest case for a membership-type of business), but now with social distancing, they offer even MORE benefits.

Membership-only models allow for improved social distancing because instead of a business relying on getting dozens or even hundreds of NEW people in the door every single day, they can instead welcome the SAME group of customers on a regular bases.

That means overall a fewer amount of UNIQUE people entering the facility every given month, reducing the risk of spreading a dangerous virus like COVID-19.

Members will also begin to form relationships with one another, making them feel more comfortable about coming to the facility-- because it’s a familiar crowd rather than a random gathering.

Focusing on memberships also allows customers to form a deeper connection with the BUSINESS itself, and vice versa. Because they are more invested in the business than a casual drop-in customer would be, they are more likely to support that business in a time of need.

For example, when the stay-at-home order hit, many membership-based businesses asked their customers to keep their memberships active (though not requiring it), to help them survive their time of closure. And many members did so-- happily.  This allowed businesses to either continue paying their staff or pay essential bills (and avoid debt) so they could reopen after the social distancing orders are lifted.

Indoor playgrounds aren’t the only model I suspect to move more towards membership.

Hair salons, cafes, breweries, retail stores, and more industries are all going to see an explosion of membership-based offerings in the coming years.


Giving a small group of loyal customers your BEST and providing them with personal attention will be KEY to business success in 2020 and beyond.

We cannot rely on getting mass volumes of people through our doors constantly, we need to focus on consistency with that small loyal group instead.

Mobile Businesses

Social distancing efforts are also encouraging more industries to get into offering mobile options.

At our indoor playground, we were already offering to come to clients’ homes to offer entertainment, decorating, and play equipment set-ups. I expect this to becoming much more popular because people have much more control in their own home than they would in an outside facility, and they are likely going to feel safer.

I expect to see more hair dressers, liquor stores, entertainers, pet groomers and trainers, and more begin to expand this branch of their business (or create one if they don’t already deliver their services).

We are going to expand to balloon delivery, craft kit delivery, gift delivery, and more to keep up with this increasing preference to stay home for the time being.

Tiffany, Owner of My Play Cafe

Online Learning and Education

Before the COVID-19 crisis, the e-learning industry was already projected to surpass 243 BILLION dollars-- a number I expect to increase as a result of social distancing.

I expect businesses to continue to get creative with offering their services online as a permanent answer to this crisis. 

Music teachers, dance teachers, tutors, lawyers, doctors, stylists, and MORE have all been forced online and I don’t expect this to slow down.

Smaller Facilities 

Because I do not expect people to congregate in large crowds again for months or even YEARS due to trauma related to social distancing, I expect future brick and mortar facilities to be more scaled down.

This will not only reduce risk because expenses are generally lower with smaller facilities (less staff needed, less spent on utilities, etc), but it will also ease peoples fears about visiting.

Our indoor playground was 2,500 square feet with a capacity of 82, including staff. I expect to see more facilities open at that size or smaller for these reasons.

New restaurants, concert venues, other “venues” will also likely scale back in the near future.

Essential Offerings

I expect more businesses to ensure that at least some of their services can be considered “essential”, even under stay-at-home mandates. 

For example, our indoor playground offered coffee and snacks. Because of that, we are allowed to do coffee pick-up and delivery, and we have taken that opportunity to offer bundles with those purchases.

Parents can now pick up coffee and breakfast along with a months’ worth of craft supplies, a birthday “to-go” box, or a new toy for their child.

This allows us to continue to make enough cash flow to cover basic expenses.

Other industries-- such as hair salons, are more likely to offer cafe or food services in the future for this reason. Since many states quashed their ability to sell things like home hair color kits because they are not “essential”, if we ever experience another quarantine period, they WILL be able to serve their clients in this way as long as they bundle it with something essential.


Personally, I am telling all of my group coaching members to wait until the future is a bit more certain to sign any leases or many permanent or long-term decisions.

The sad truth is that many small businesses will not be able to withstand either this crisis or the recession that is likely to follow. That means that landlords will suddenly have more vacancies they will be desperate to fill.

For prospective business owners, this means that rent prices will be DROPPING as demand for brick and mortar spaces declines (due to fear, failure to adapt) and supply increases.

This means that you will be able to lock in a lease for LESS! This is a huge long-term opportunity for your business to be even more profitable than it could have been previously.

So just sit tight, your dream facility could be opening up shortly!


Even though I’m recommending that you wait to sign a lease, that doesn’t mean you need to shift your motion into park!

As I mentioned before, when businesses begin to reopen (and brand new businesses especially!), customers are only going to frequent places they know and TRUST.

Even if you can’t acquire new customers right now (unless you sell an essential service or do business online), you can still begin forging the ever-important “know, like, and trust” relationship with them.

The question is, how?


Launch your Social Media Channels

As many people are home from work and stuck inside, social media usage is UP and people are looking for connection more now than ever.

I recommend picking one “hero” channel to connect with your audience. For example, people that are comfortable making videos might do well on TikTok. Those with a slightly older customer base might choose Facebook to focus on. 

My ideal customer is generally the Millennial parent, so I focus on Instagram. I still post on ALL channels, but focusing on one helps me find the most success because I have limited time in my day.

You can also start with one “hero” network and expand as you master it.

Either way, get out there! 

Potential customers love seeing peeks of your personal life and behind-the-scenes action. Even if you are JUST getting started, share your journey with your future client base!

When I was getting started with launching my indoor playground, I was terrified to post too early because I feared someone would “steal” my idea.

This fear, however, was unfounded-- and it led to me having a RAVING fan base ready to bust down the doors as soon as I opened!

We were profitable our very first month because of the time I took to network, share my story, and form REAL bonds with my potential customers and fans.

Start Creating Content

Similar to social media, I always recommend to my clients to choose a “hero” authority platform.

By authority platform I mean a place where you are putting out more long-form content (so not social media) and can really assert yourself as an expert.

The most common authority platforms today are YouTube, blogging, and podcasting. 

Even though I blog and podcast every week, YouTube is the authority platform I focus on the most at the moment.

By that I mean I am researching what phrases people are typing into YouTube’s search bar and plan my content strategy around those results. I chose YouTube because I enjoy making more long-form educational videos and vlogs and because it seemed to resonate with my audience right from the beginning.

I started with putting one video out per week (and repurposing the content as blogs and podcasts) but am now increasing to 2, as I feel more comfortable and have gotten quicker in my processes.

Posting on your MAIN authority platform at least once a week is a great start to gaining more fans, followers, leads, and eventually, clients!

The more high-quality and thoughtful content you create, the easier it will be for your future customers to find you, get to know you, and view you as THE go-to for your service or product.

Build your Email List

Speaking of leads-- you NEED to be building your email list NOW!

While having instagram followers and YouTube subscribers is great, you don’t OWN them and you have limited control over their experience on those platforms.

A solid email list (which you OWN) has been my single biggest key to success, both in my brick-and-mortar business and my online business.

Not only am I CONSTANTLY focusing on getting my ideal customers onto my list (through both paid and organic tactics), I am also sending them REAL valuable content (the blogs, videos, and podcasts I create weekly) in order to nurture them.

This again establishes you as the authority in your space and works to gain trust, making these potential customers much more likely to convert when you present them with an offer.

And building an email list goes MUCH further than just saying “join my newsletter” or “stay up to date”. That is simply NOT enough of an incentive to effectively entice people to join your list.

Instead, consider using a lead magnet.

A lead magnet is a piece of value that businesses offer to potential buyers in exchange for their email address or other contact information.

Examples of free lead magnets I have used and had success with include:

  • A downloadable (simple PDF!) checklist or cheatsheet

  • An eBook

  • A Quiz

  • A Free Guide

  • A Free Coffee (my brick and mortar play cafe!)

  • A 25% off a First Purchase Coupon

  • A Free 1-Hour Class

  • A Contest (A Chance at Winning Something for Free)

There are SO many options!

And you can build a simple landing page for FREE right now using mailchimp, and begin building your list!

List building is a marathon and not a sprint, so starting now will save you money (you will need to spend much less on advertising when the time comes!) and time in the future.

My biggest mistake in my brick and mortar business was NOT starting an email list soon enough-- so learn from my mistake!

NOW is the time to take steps to set your business up for success-- so don’t waste it! I’d much rather look back at this time and be grateful I put in the work and started early-- and my business will be better in the long-term because of it.



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