After Shedding a Firm to COVID, Homeowners Search the Subsequent Gig | Enterprise Information

From JOYCE M. ROSENBERG, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) – When airlines curtailed flights and vacation days in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Mike Catania sensed that a service to help airline crews find short-term accommodations would hardly be necessary.

So Catania and its co-owners closed Padloop at the beginning of March, even though the almost one-year-old company had just crossed breakeven.

Catania began researching how life changed during the pandemic and came up with the idea for its next business: Locaris, a website that helps apartment renters connect with potential neighbors for information about buildings and landlords . As the pandemic restricted people’s ability to meet in person, Locaris allowed tenants to safely find out about a building.

“I tried to concentrate, what is COVID a catalyst for? What trends is it bringing to market a few years ahead of schedule? “Says Catania, who lives in Henderson, Nevada. Locaris started in June and quickly found success.

With the owners being forced to close stores, they had to figure out what to do next. For entrepreneurs like Catania, the answer has been to anticipate the next trend and start a company that will benefit from it. Some owners have created businesses similar to the ones they lost or businesses that have a different role in the same industry. Others have left to work for someone else, while perhaps holding on to hopes of eventually reviving the businesses they closed.

It is unknown how many small businesses failed in the pandemic, but different estimates show all of the devastation. Based on a forecast by the National Bureau of Economic Research last spring, the number is likely to be well below hundreds of thousands. Data from work planning software company UKG shows that around one in six small businesses has closed its doors since the pandemic began. And the National Restaurant Association, a trade group, said 17% of US restaurants, or more than 110,000, had closed permanently by December 1; It is likely that many were small or medium-sized businesses.

San Diego’s Alex Willen was preparing to open a dog retirement business when the pandemic broke out. He was about to sign papers for a Small Business Administration loan to cover construction costs when his bank said it would defer new business loans. Will sensed that the virus outbreak would not end quickly, which meant dog owners would not travel and many would continue to work at home so his services would no longer be needed.

The loan money was available by May, but Will decided to quit the business instead of opening it and not generate any income for months, perhaps longer.

“It looked like COVID wasn’t going to go away in November or December, and those are big months for dog retirement,” Willen says.

Willen soon decided to resume a business that he had closed in favor of boarding: dog food. Willen didn’t have to start at number one as he had already done some preliminary marketing and packaging designs for the company.

Will bakes for his two dogs Cooper and Maple – which gave him the idea for Cooper’s Treats. He sells the goodies on his website and on Amazon.

“It looks like a real deal,” he says.

Kathryn Valentine closed her consulting business last summer because she had lost her care options. Valentine’s nanny quit to take care of her own children and day care centers have closed. With a baby and toddler, the Atlanta-based mother couldn’t keep the 9-to-5 schedule, followed by the clothing companies who were her customers. She had to think of another job – and quickly.

She was already an expert in training women in negotiation, a skill necessary for professional success. Valentine had researched the subject in business school, so she founded Worthmore Negotiations and began hiring corporate clients.

“I’ll commit about once a week during the day, but otherwise all of my work will be done after 7pm,” she says. But Valentine is hoping to revive her consulting business once the pandemic is over and she is back in childcare. Your hope is to keep both businesses.

A series of lockdowns in the UK forced Steve West to close his acupuncture practice. With no money coming in, he returned to digital marketing, a job that helped slow his practice down during the Great Recession. He’s not sure when or if he will return to acupuncture as people are unsure if they are in close contact.

He is also concerned that when life returns to normal, some clients will decide that they will do well without acupuncture. In the meantime, businesses are in constant need of digital marketing, which makes them more visible when searching the internet.

“This is the time to focus on it (digital marketing) and maybe get back to acupuncture in the future,” says West, who lives on Haywards Heath in the south of the UK.

Kriti Sachdeva has a new job at an agency that provides e-commerce consulting. She had to close her shop which organized fairs and markets in the UK and other European countries. She only had five days notice that she had to cancel a show in London last March, and five other events in the months that followed were also canceled.

In April Sachdeva realized she needed a job. “I knew this would take a long time and I knew there was nothing I could do,” she says.

She landed her position in June. She loves her work and sees herself as part of it in the long term, but is also surprised that one day she might organize trade fairs on the side.

“I think about it every day,” she says.

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