University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Confessions of an Entrepreneur: Necessity Is the Mother of Invention/Opportunity Is All Around Us

Home Sweet Home Environment

Aril 15, 2020 | By Mark Zweig

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Times like the present – when so much of the economy is shutting down – will test all of us working in organizations, large and small.

We have never experienced anything like this. It came on very quickly, we have no idea how long it will last, it affects the entire country (and world), and when it’s over everything won’t just come back to normal.

There are plenty of negative aspects of the current situation. People are dying. People are sick for weeks. Our healthcare system is overrun. Our healthcare workers are risking their lives. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Small businesses are fighting for survival.

We can’t live our lives normally with social distancing.

That said, out of all these problems will come new opportunities. Necessity is the mother of invention. And we have lots of needs now.

There has never been a time when we need to harness our powers of creativity and innovation more than we need to now.

I predict some good things will come out of all of this bad. Here are a few of them:

  1. We are working remotely.
  2. Everyone in nearly every business where people work in offices or conference rooms or classrooms has had to learn how to work from their homes. The advances in how we use already available communication and collaboration tools will change the nature of this work forever.

    We will be more willing to allow people to work from home. We will need less office space. We will travel less for business meetings. It means lower overhead for many businesses and has to make everything more efficient in the end.

    It will also help those of us who juggle parenting duties with work if we have greater flexibility to work from home. There will be less commuting. We will use less fossil fuels and pollute less. All good things.

  3. We will get healthier.
  4. Besides the fact that the traditional handshake has probably become a vestige of the past, we are all most likely eating better and exercising more. This also will lead to more innovation.

    Lots of opportunity for innovation here!

  5. We will figure out how to better use the available workforce.
  6. Besides all the working at home opportunities which will make it easier to employ people with a wide range of disabilities or work schedules that we may not be able to accommodate now, the “gig” economy will get a huge boost from firms (and individuals) with temporary needs to get things done.

    We will need to find new and innovative ways to match those up who want temporary work assignments with the employers who need them. Loads of opportunities for innovation here.

    A good example of this locally is the new “sider” app created to match students with specific short-term work opportunities.

  7. We will spend more time at home.
  8. Because the traditional commute may not ever come back and work from home will be the new norm for millions of people after this is all over, there will be all kinds of new opportunities for innovation related to our homes.

    Creative home office or desk accommodations that can be integrated into other spaces inconspicuously. New technologies for saving money on utilities. New ways to fit more function into every room in the house or apartment. New ways to get the products we want and need delivered to us. New ways to get medical or psychiatric help needed. New ways to interact remotely with local, state, and federal government agencies and services. New ways of entertainment.

    There is tremendous opportunity in working on innovative ways to solve a whole host of problems for people who are at home much more than they ever were in the past.

  9. Buildings will need to be repurposed.
  10. With a huge shortage of hospital beds, so many restaurants and bars going out of business, office spaces being less necessary, internet hubs being more needed, hotels being shut down, people working from home, traditional retail facing huge declines in demand, people taking classes from home, and social distancing being the new norm – these things and more will result in huge opportunities for developers, architects and engineers, and contractors who will be working on solving these problems.

Whew! I am almost worn out from thinking about all of the opportunities this terrible event that defines our time will create.

As my late lead carpenter, Jack Kidd, used to love to say every day, “Improvise and overcome!”

Post Author:

Mark ZweigMark Zweig – a leading expert in management and business for the architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental industry – is president of Mark Zweig, Inc., which has been named to the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest-growing privately-held companies; chairman and founder of Zweig Group – named to the Inc. list three times – and entrepreneur-in-residence teaching entrepreneurship at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.