A year ago, prospective business owners could feel confident, based upon 11 consecutive years of economic growth. The pandemic, of course, has raised several questions as enterprises look to move forward.
Anthony DeSimone, interim executive director of the University at Buffalo Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, said some questions are different this year, but people are still coming in seeking advice on starting, preserving or excelerating a business in the middle of a global pandemic.
"We have helped a lot of businesses that would have failed or would have been reactive versus proactive to be in front of their competition, because we’re making them aware of all the concerns that they should be aware of before they happen," he said.
DeSimone said the center is seeing more minorities, more women and more undergraduate students. There also is a lot of interest from clients in line to someday run family businesses, wanting to know how to make that generational transition work better. They bring special problems like limited capital and perhaps a shortage of close or family mentors.
"We were 11 years into the last time we had a recession, which typically happens every six years. Nobody was really thinking about that or worried about that, and they were just running their business like they normally do," DeSimone said. "A year later? People want to know. They want their finger on the pulse of cash flow. They are very uncertain about the future."
Some things remain vital, however. He said that is where the center’s programs and classes come in.
"Making sure that part of your business model is to sell online is very important right now. But I think more importantly, it’s understanding that no matter what you sell, whatever industry you are in, you’re in the service industry and that you need to service your current customers and make sure they feel as if they’re valued," he said.