Entrepreneurs in any jurisdiction should exploit various entrepreneurial opportunities to remain competitive. Entrepreneurs are capable of improving the living standards in a specific society through wealth creation and the provision of meaningful employment opportunities. Thus, entrepreneurs should identify relevant entrepreneurial opportunities to establish effective and innovative business models that can enhance their economic activities. The paper identifies how business people in the entrepreneurial ecosystem can identify various opportunities to address the changing demands in the market. Entrepreneurs should rise to the challenge and take advantage of the existing entrepreneurial opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic to remain competitive and profitable.
Theoretical Foundations of Entrepreneurial Opportunities
Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship play a critical role in the economic growth and development of their countries and they reduce poverty levels. Entrepreneurship involves the creation of growth-oriented entities to exploit various socio-economic opportunities and activities. Entrepreneurs are people with great and innovating ideas, bear most of the risk, and enjoy most of the benefits. Policymakers should empower entrepreneurs to provide novel solutions to pressing societal issues, such as creating meaningful job opportunities (McAdam and Marlow, 2011). The concept of entrepreneurial opportunity is fundamental to promoting entrepreneurship. The idea describes the introduction and selling of new commodities and production methods in an economy or market. Entrepreneurial opportunity may also involve creating new information and exploiting market inefficiencies for economic gain (Gedajlovic et al., 2013). Some entrepreneurs or business people seeking entrepreneurial opportunities do so as a reaction to changes or shifts in relative costs of production, benefits, and changes to various political, regulatory, and demographic forces (Slotte‐Kock and Coviello, 2010). For instance, the increase in the number of younger consumers is an important entrepreneurial opportunity for businesses in the technology industry.
Entrepreneurs can benefit from entrepreneurial opportunities by addressing such changes in market demands and consumer preferences. For instance, consumers are constantly changing preferences and demanding changes to product quality and tastes. However, most of these opportunities exist in abstract form and may fail to attract the interest of entrepreneurs (Klein, 2008). Specifically, some entrepreneurs are risk-averse and may struggle to ascertain whether an opportunity is profitable or not (Ireland, Hitt, and Sirmon, 2003). Thus, entrepreneurs should invest in market research to establish the effectiveness of various entrepreneurial opportunities and actions. Similarly, a business plan, describing the specific nature of a business, sales, marketing strategies, financial potentials, and projected benefits can help in the proper implementation of various entrepreneurial opportunities (Greve and Salaff, 2003). Therefore, the concept and perception of entrepreneurial opportunities are highly subjective because of the associated risks and other market uncertainties. Entrepreneurs should understand how factors such as a change in market demand and global population growth affect their investment decisions.
COVID-19 Pandemic as a Catalyst for Entrepreneurial Opportunities
Entrepreneurs must embrace the new economic reality in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic affected almost every sector of the global economy. Thus, entrepreneurs in various industries must reinvent their business models to remain relevant and viable. Notably, while the COVID-19 pandemic is disconcerting, it can also have fascinating opportunities for business people. Most business people are very optimistic and resilient, thus they will overcome this difficult period. Specifically, entrepreneurs should pivot their business objectives, repurpose, and redirect their plans to navigate the changing needs of their targeted consumer bases during any crisis (Witt, 2004). The primary market objective is to adapt to the “new normal” by retaining existing clients or attracting new ones. For example, businesses are re-engineering their production processes to produce and sell facemasks and PPEs (personal protective equipment) to their clients and medical workers. The mindset changes show the power of human ingenuity and the ability to transform the public health crisis into meaningful opportunities. A company like Apple illustrates the power of human ingenuity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company changed its operations virtually overnight by initiating the design, production, and shipping of face shields to medical workers. Other entities such as Philips and Draeger increased their production capacities to address the shortage of ventilators in hospital intensive care units.
Mindset changes during the COVID-19 pandemic are critical in the successful identification of entrepreneurial opportunities. Businesses should think about the future rather than focusing on the current situation and limit their business models and market operations to their current production processes. The crisis is a wake-up call for all entrepreneurs to leave their comfort zones and explore new ways of doing things to maintain or attain better outcomes (Steier and Greenwood, 2000). For instance, hotels and grocery should invest in e-commerce to encourage online ordering and delivery of products to their consumers due to the physical distancing requirements. Furthermore, enterprises should observe and analyze the consumption patterns to identify the changing needs of their consumers (Gedajlovic et al., 2013). For example, COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on movement and travel imply that some consumers may demand healthy foods and workout equipment to avoid weight loss and health issues associated with sedentary lifestyles. Companies in the food and workout industries should develop appropriate plans to satisfy such changes in consumer preferences and needs.
Businesses should also think about technology and innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic to identify various entrepreneurial opportunities. For instance, technology businesses can initiate innovations that can help solve a societal issue, especially during quarantine times. The entities should look at all the possible needs emanating from the challenges brought about by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions created in the society. Businesses can also collaborate with other entities to identify other opportunities and cushion themselves against possible market losses. For example, technology companies can collaborate with grocery stores to offer online ordering platforms and deliver solutions to consumers in quarantine. Similarly, technology companies can develop and sell apps to healthcare entities involved in the contact tracing of COVID-19 patients.
Effective Synthesis and Analysis of Peer-Reviewed Academic Journals
Different peer-reviewed academic journals examine and explain the theory of entrepreneurial opportunity. For instance, Alvarez and Barney (2007) describe various theories of entrepreneurial actions. According to the article, the proper identification of entrepreneurial opportunities can help businesses create value and remain profitable. Effective understanding of market demand, changing needs, and resources can also help businesses identify important opportunities, especially during the public health crisis (Ardichvili, Cardozo, and Ray, 2003). Businesses should also develop a network-based approach to entrepreneurial opportunity recognition. According to Areniusand De Clercq (2005), the perception of market needs and accurate identification of underutilized resources is an effective approach for businesses in crisis. Barron (2006) reiterates that the recognition of fit between market needs and resources can create market opportunities for entrepreneurs. In particular, businesses can identify the products or services to offer based on their ability to recognize changing consumer preferences and market needs.
The research by Baron and Ensley (2006) supports the summative evaluation of entrepreneurial opportunities at each stage of development. Businesses can evaluate such opportunities through a feasibility analysis of various factors. Berglund (2007) believes that businesses should display entrepreneurial alertness to survive in competitive environments. Specifically, they should be sensitive to information about incidents and changing patterns of consumer behaviors in their environments (Cope and Watts, 2000). Birley (1985) and Shaw (2006) also believe that social and professional networks are critical bridges to information sources about different business opportunities. Prior knowledge of market conditions can help successful entrepreneurs to recognize important investment opportunities. Thus, Brixy, Sternberg, and Stüber (2012) argue that entrepreneurs should identify their fascinations or special interests by applying their market knowledge. They should also learn and reflect on their investment choices to influence proper decision-making (Cope, (2003). Businesses can benefit from such high levels of entrepreneurial alertness through successful recognition of market opportunities.
Entrepreneurs should pursue inclusiveness, persistence, and distinctiveness to ensure proper business innovation and development. For instance, according to Davidsson (2003), the existence and use of extended social and professional networks are critical in opportunity recognition and development. Thus, businesses should rely on their partnerships with other entities and inner professional cycles to identify the changing market and consumer needs and preferences. De Clercq and Arenius (2006) stipulate that such partnerships can enhance prior knowledge of consumer problems, increasing the likelihood of successfully recognizing entrepreneurial opportunities.
The elusiveness of entrepreneurial opportunities implies that businesses should be more proactive in market engagements. According to Dimov (2011), businesses should adopt entrepreneurial creativity and optimism. Eckhardt and Shane (2003) recommend continuous processes that entrepreneurs should follow to launch new ventures. The primary objective of any entrepreneur is to create incremental wealth by innovating things that create value and help them become competitive.
Critical Evaluation of the Origins of Opportunities
Business people can trace the origin of entrepreneurial opportunities on the impacts of various COVID-19 pandemic policies and restrictions. For instance, limited travel of goods and people may breed opportunities for different businesses. Measures such as social and physical distancing imply that technology companies can enhance the development of technological applications such as “zoom” to facilitate remote working and meetings. Grocery stores can also collaborate with technology companies to improve their supply chain networks. The rising demand for masks and ventilators in most countries is also a viable opportunity for businesses to reinvent their production processes.
Some businesses are struggling to remain afloat during the current COVID-19 crisis. Businesses are experiencing cash flow shortages because most consumers are changing their consumption patterns and priorities. Specifically, consumers’ heightened stress over COVID-19 uncertainties implies changes in purchase and consumption behaviors. For instance, some consumers would rather spend on basic commodities such as food and clothes rather than on luxury products such as jewelry. Similarly, the drastic reduction in the number of diners because of the travel restrictions and social distancing measures implies that restaurants and other brick-and-mortar businesses experience a decrease in revenue. The novel COVID-19 pandemic has also disrupted the global supply chain processes. Therefore, while the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for companies to remain viable, some business entities are struggling to identify and satisfy the changing needs and preferences in their respective societies.
Evidence of Outside/ Additional Reading and Investigation
Different sources provide objective evidence on the role of the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst for entrepreneurial opportunities. According to the Ted Talk by Fareed Zakaria, the COVID-19 pandemic will cause major global economic fallout. The source illustrates the need to properly identify entrepreneurial opportunities to enable businesses and economies to stay afloat (Sullivan and Ford, 2014). Similarly, the Ted Talk by Alanna Shaikh argues that the COVID-19 pandemic will part of the human future. As such, businesses should learn to adapt and recognize opportunities that can help them remain profitable.
Alibaba Global Initiative also released a handbook offering guidelines on how businesses can tackle economic challenges post- COVID-19 pandemic in their YouTube video. According to the group, a business can redesign and reinvent its operations to tackle crisis challenges. For instance, Alibaba recommends the application of various technology-enabled eCommerce solutions to help to support the supply chain processes disrupted by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. In an episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast Interview Series, Shelly Kramer and Don Schuerman engaged in discussing how the COVID-19 pandemic is acting as a catalyst to many businesses. According to the speakers, businesses are engaging in massive rethink to navigate the changing market trends. Lastly, a conversation by Dr. Ahmed Omar and Dr. Dave Aiken of the University of Phoenix provides reasonable recommendations for entrepreneurs- especially during the COVID-19 pandemic period. According to the conversation, businesses can create connections with their customers to know or understand their changing needs and preferences. Entrepreneurs can use such information to re-engineer their production processes and to continue serving their customers well.
When a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic occurs, entrepreneurs should turn it into new opportunities to retain consumers and to remain viable. Proper identification of entrepreneurial opportunities requires critical thinking and efficient responses to market changes and consumer preferences. Therefore, the COVID-19 pandemic is an amazing opportunity for businesses to embrace creativity and positive reinvention to remain consistent and profitable. The crisis is an opportunity for businesses to re-imagine their prospects and ways of doing things.
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