Covid-19 and the Entrepreneurial Revolution

Covid-19 and the Entrepreneurial Revolution

There have been many revolutions in human history.

The development of the printing press in the mid-15th century launched the Communications Revolution. The adoption of steam power to machines spawned the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. And the advent of computer technology in the mid-20th century brought the Digital Revolution.

In much the same way, the global Covid-19 pandemic was the tipping point for the Entrepreneurial Revolution.

While the term “entrepreneur” first emerged nearly 300 years ago, the challenges presented by Covid-19 – supply chain issues, social distancing, labor upheaval and fundamental shifts in consumer behavior among others – fostered shifts in perspective for business owners and corporate managers.

While many businesses failed under the weight of lockdowns and shortages, others not only survived, but thrived.

Channeling the entrepreneurial mindset that seeks to solve problems for people and in doing so empowering themselves, a new breed of entrepreneurs emerged during the pandemic that changed the notion of what it means to be an entrepreneur.

Long urged to “think outside the box,” business owners realized there is no box. The only limits they faced beyond the specific circumstances of the pandemic were those of imagination. Companies around the globe turned their productive capacities on a dime and went from making uniforms to personal protective equipment. Others set aside production of spirits to make sanitizing agents. Others changed their business model to encourage safe practices and offered contactless delivery of goods.

Taken separately, each of these examples – and many others – may not seem revolutionary. But as part of a greater effort to sustain a business during a health emergency and provide needed items for consumers, they were revolutionary.

The Covid-19 pandemic also brought a large swath of the buying public into the world of online shopping. With brick-and-mortar stores forced to limit customer contact and control access, consumers found the virtual marketplace a safer and easier option. For many, the pandemic was the first time they ordered goods over the Internet. For companies with a limited online presence the pandemic provided the nudge to join the 21st century and goo all in on digital commerce.

To be sure, periods of uncertainty and economic challenge have always been fertile soil for entrepreneurial activity. But the global nature of the pandemic and the overwhelming challenges it presented was unprecedented. And in their response to the situation, business owners large and small adopted the entrepreneurial mindset to welcome adversity and turn the problem of how to survive in extraordinary times into new ways of conducting commerce.

One hundred years from now historians may not agree with the idea of an Entrepreneurial Revolution in the early 21st century. But it is clear we live in a different world today than we did at the beginning of the decade, with different challenges requiring different solutions.