As the host of the US public radio broadcaster NPR's program How I Built This, Guy Raz has interviewed countless entrepreneurs and business owners.
Speaking with Business As Usual When Nothing Is Usual, Raz described how many business leaders were rising to the challenge of sustaining their businesses in new and inventive ways.
One of these was Alberto Perlman, the co-founder of the dance-based fitness program Zumba Fitness.
"They saw their business opportunities collapse when COVID began," Raz said. "Gyms and the fitness industry have been really hit hard. But what they did in a matter of three weeks was create an online platform to enable their Zumba instructors around the world, who are all independent workers, to host Zumba classes."
Raz said that by Perlman's own admission Zumba would have required two years to complete this transformation under normal circumstances, but was able to get the new platform up and running in just three weeks.
"It is not perfect, and they are iterating and improving, but it is a really great example of how many companies are thinking creatively at this moment to keep their businesses going."
Raz said that other entrepreneurs he spoke to were seeking to harvest what they had learned through COVID-19 to find opportunities for the future. He said the major trend towards online video conferences and meetings was fuelling interest in making these experiences better and would lead to innovations that would improve how we communicated.
"We are going to be living in a hybrid virtual/in-person world in the future," Raz said. "And I think communication and the ability to create in-person connections is going to be a big part in the changes we are going to see coming out of this COVID period."
Furthermore, Raz said the uncertainty that COVID-19 had created for a lot of workers was also fuelling their interest in taking control of their own careers by becoming entrepreneurs. Often, they were doing this in the form of a 'side hustle', by exploring a new business opportunity while still maintaining their day job.
Raz said one of the most famous examples of this in the US was the haircare product range Briogeo which was started by Nancy Twine while she was still working on Wall Street. While it took three years for Briogeo to get going, Raz said it was now one of the world's fastest-growing haircare companies.
"You don't have to jump into the side hustle tomorrow," Raz said. "There are opportunities to take it slowly and gradually, and I think that is a really great way to start a business because it mitigates risk."
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