Thu. Jul 28th, 2022
the-work-after-pandemic

Keys to entrepreneurship, enterprise and employment in the post-pandemic era

With the aim of reactivating the economy and the labour market and leaving behind the difficulties of the pandemic, come Bizbarcelona and the Saló de l’Ocupació. Two events aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and employment, organised by Fira de Barcelona and supported by Barcelona City Council and other organisations. From 9 to 11 November, Bizbarcelona and the Saló de l’Ocupació have prepared 160 talks and conferences, 200 workshops and activities, as well as orientation spaces, counselling sessions and individual attention and networking dynamics in pavilion 8 of the Montjuïc exhibition centre.

Entrepreneurship, growth, innovation

Bizbarcelona, the event of reference for entrepreneurship, start-ups and SMEs in the city, will have 300 speakers this year who will share experiences, advice and techniques in the four axes of the show: Entrepreneurship, Growth, Start-ups and Innovation in Business and Talent. In addition, Bizbarcelona will have four spaces where workshops will be held on digital transformation solutions, management techniques, innovation and business productivity and strategies for attracting, managing and motivating talent in the company.

There will be activities for entrepreneurs and marketers to help them find collaborators, suppliers and even future employees. You will be able to learn about Lean, Canvas, Design Thinking or Growth Haking methods for innovation, learn how to present an elevator pitch or hire a mentor to handle a crisis situation, and also meet the winners of the AticcoLab Pitch Competition.

The Saló de l’Ocupació aims to showcase the potential of all types of talent (young people, women, digital, seniors, athletes, scientists, inclusive, international…) and promote training in new skills, trades, job opportunities, the most in-demand professional profiles and opportunities in the third sector, as well as the possibility of contacting companies and organisations that are looking for employees for their organisations and other proposals. It will offer up to 150 activities for people looking for work or who want to change their career path. There will be round tables, workshops, conferences, information and individual counselling in various locations.

Visitors will be able to learn how to face a job interview or take part in a selection process, visit craft demonstrations, receive employment advice or find out about the state of inclusion of vulnerable groups. In addition, there will be monographic sections dedicated to strategic sectors of the city (blue economy, digital technologies, video games, tourism or care), which will present their professional opportunities while encouraging debate and networking between companies in each sector and visitors to the fair.

Crisis boosts ingenuity: pandemics boost entrepreneurship

The pandemic has caused an unprecedented economic crisis. Hundreds of businesses have been forced to close and thousands of workers have been made redundant. But some have managed to emerge stronger from the situation. Start-ups born with revolutionary ideas or existing companies adapting to take advantage of the crisis.

“The business sector has come out of the pandemic well,” says Lluís Soldevila, researcher at OBS Business School and author of the report “Entrepreneurs after COVID-19”.

The report notes that the number of business opportunities, new ideas and entrepreneurial activities increased in 2020, as shown by the exceptionally good figures for patents (the number of applications increased by 16%). Between January and September 2020, the SPTO received 30% more applications for utility models (junior patents) and the number of trade name applications increased by 2%.

“In times of crisis, ingenuity sharpens because there are more needs and less money, so you have to optimise it,” Soldevilla explains about this boom in business. “There is a paradigm shift, we are more open and there are new opportunities because we are more attentive and we try to solve real and concrete problems,” he continues.

Different types of post-pandemic entrepreneurs

Soldevilla points out that today’s entrepreneurs can be divided into two groups: those who went into business because of the pandemic, and those who started their businesses before COVID-19. As for the former, the expert points out that many of them found themselves on the ropes because of the pandemic, and their way out was to go into business. “The uncertainty made it much more difficult for them to start up and find investments.

Either the idea was very clear, or the timing was not right,” he says. On the other hand, those already in business had to make some changes because the market stagnated, according to Soldevilly. “They had to pivot, make small changes in direction so that the value proposition remained valid in the new environment.

In addition, the OBS report also highlights that 60% of startups expect to continue growing in 2021. Despite these good figures, some of them have emerged as a direct short-term response to the crisis and will return to normal levels once COVID-19 is over. Others, however, will persist and create a long-term digital disruption that will shape business for decades to come.

Here Soldevilla distinguishes between short-term and structural ideas. As an example, “those who make face masks have made a lot of money, but that will end in two or three years, while those who saw that grandparents need more help and technology can help them. This is an idea that is here to stay because there are more and more grandparents.

In this line, the report points out that the sectors with the most potential for growth are online education, health and wellness, SAAS and teleworking tools, e-commerce, online gaming, e-sports and streaming platforms, pharma and labs, and coworking.

Future challenges

Although the pandemic has proved to be a propitious time to create new projects, the real challenge now is to ensure that the business endures in the long term. “We are in a sector where 90% of ideas do not come to fruition,” warns Soldevilla. In this context, he points out that the entrepreneur faces two major challenges: finding money and finding customers. These two priorities still exist after the pandemic, but their importance has changed, according to the expert. “Before the pandemic, it was more important to find money, but now it is more difficult to determine who the customers are,” he says.

Ten opportunities for business after Covid-19

1.-Cybersecurity

The move to remote working and high-profile cases, such as the cyber-attack that exposed companies like Colonial, have made it clear to businesses that the issue of cybersecurity must now be a priority. There are as many business opportunities in this area as in any other niche, from firewalls to backups to VPNs.

Another piece of good news is the 224 million euros that the National Cybersecurity Institute (INCIBE) has earmarked for innovative cybersecurity procurement, which will be the largest support to the sector in this format at European level.

2.- Charging electric vehicles

Wallbox’s success with its system of chargers for electric and hybrid cars highlights the enormous business opportunities that are opening up in this area. Wallbox, according to its CEO Enriq Asunción, has already installed more than 100,000 chargers in more than 67 countries.

Given the forecast of a progressive increase in the sale of electric vehicles in Spain and the Spanish government’s incentive plan, which foresees the distribution of a total of 400 million euros in direct aid for electromobility and charging infrastructure, it is necessary to seek efficient and sustainable solutions for energy storage.

3.- Networking

It remains to be seen whether telework has finally arrived or whether it has been a mirage of a pandemic. Current figures already show a significant decline in teleworking, which has almost halved compared to last year. It is not that productivity has declined as a result of teleworking, but that many companies and employees are starting to opt for a mixed model combining home and office hours.

From this perspective, tools that make teleworking easier and more secure remain essential, and companies should choose a good provider of such services.

One example is the Oomnitza platform, which helps remote companies keep all their assets – software and hardware (end-user hardware, SaaS, network infrastructure, virtual cloud services, retail facilities, medical devices, etc.) – secure and in optimal condition.

In addition, for those who don’t trust their team too much and are worried about being distracted by other tasks during working hours, there are solutions such as Sesame, a tool designed to keep track of the working day’s schedule. Similarly, Woffu is a startup that specialises in optimising employee time management.

4.-Lifelong learning

It is not only lifelong jobs that will disappear, but also many areas of work. Some argue that new generations will have to reinvent themselves up to seven times during their careers, so mindset and training are crucial. Another paradox is that more than 60% of companies report that they cannot find the talent they need, which some attribute to a mismatch between training and the skills demanded by the labour market.

In this context, solutions are emerging that promise rapid alignment between training and the labour market, mostly based on e-learning. Training is everything from digital professions to any kind of trade or business.

In relation to this need, business opportunities arise, not only for specialised trainers, but also in the creation of multimedia content platforms, the creation of communities or the creation of new digital tools, among others.

5.-Entertainment and cultural industries

Before the pandemic, the cultural industry accounted for 3.2% of Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP). After two years of stagnation, the percentage has decreased, but everything indicates that the sector will recover, albeit in a new way, to make it more competitive and resilient to the current and future situation. It is true that entertainment content has grown disproportionately with the restrictions, but only a few large platforms such as Netflix, Movistar+ or YouTube have benefited.

But not everything has to be audiovisual. It is time to recover the performing arts, music, the world of books, cinema, the return to museums, exhibition halls, the restoration of cultural heritage… Technologies such as virtual or augmented reality can become great allies for the modernisation of this sector.

It can also be useful to use other forms of communication with young audiences, as the Uffizi Gallery did when it launched the TiKToK initiative, which was soon joined by the Prado Museum.

It is not only about digital transformation, but also about creating driving companies that involve different actors and are able to cross national borders. This requires creating synergies between companies and institutions and forgetting about personalities.

6.-Telemedicine

Telemedicine is not, of course, about a doctor calling a patient on the phone, making a diagnosis based on what they say, and sending them a treatment without seeing them or running tests. This may work for minor, high-protocol interventions, but it does not always work for major illnesses.

However, telemedicine platforms already exist on the market that allow remote diagnosis in areas such as radiology, cardiology, ophthalmology and dermatology, as well as treatment monitoring.

Spanish startup Legit Health, for example, has launched an app that can identify up to 232 skin diseases. Its algorithms automatically classify lesions by simply displaying images and small patient-reported outcomes (PROMs). Software, the development of medical apps, practice management programmes or communication tools between medical teams or with patients are some of those that may present a business opportunity.

7.-BIM Technology for the Construction Industry

BIM (Building Information Modelling) is a new collaborative methodology that modernises and improves building design processes. Its use in Spain is still low, but is expected to grow. It is based on the use of technology to create, manage information and documentation throughout the life cycle of infrastructure projects.

BIM enables better understanding and mitigation of risks prior to construction, as it allows modelling, visualisation and analysis before and during the construction phase of a project. It is therefore a revolution in the workflow of construction and industrial projects, as it enables the “complete digital construction” of a building, from physical to energy and functional performance. Some see it as a paradigm shift, similar to what CAD technology once represented.

This methodology offers new business opportunities. One of them is the startup Stoor.pro, which some call the Uber of architecture. It is a platform for architects and construction companies to meet in one place.

The process is simple. Architects who are interested in bringing their projects to market – or reselling those that have already been used by a client – have a showcase on Stoor to display them, and developers and/or builders have a place to choose the ones that fit their needs.

BIM consultancies and training centres have also been able to carve out a niche in the market, taking advantage of the fact that the months of closure and remote working have led to the introduction of cloud-based technologies.

8.-Fitness at home
For companies that have gyms or sports centres, there is a great opportunity to offer fitness at home, especially with virtual reality. In this sense, start-ups such as Vifit.training are emerging that build virtual reality training kits that are integrated into gyms that have little space. Thus, a small gym can offer an infinite number of virtual rooms for different exercises that actually occupy 2×2 metres.

Another case is Virtuagym, a platform that has developed software for the distance training of professional personal trainers. On-demand and streaming trainings are also in demand for their flexibility and convenience.

9.-Support from other companies

Now that the time has come to go digital, many entrepreneurs are at a loss to cope with the transition, which is why there are many successful proposals aimed at easing the way for other entrepreneurs.

These include Debit2Go, a solution that helps businesses move to new subscription models in an innovative way, and Millionchats, an app designed especially for micro-businesses and freelancers who lack digital skills but want to use the online channel to increase their sales. The app, which is currently only available for Android, allows small businesses and freelancers to create a digital shop in a matter of minutes via whastapp.

Other business opportunities pointing in this direction include BECCA, with global management software for the self-employed and SMEs, and PayThunder, which has created an interactive virtual hologram capable of performing customer service functions.

10. Because I’m worth it” business.

If health and wellness had already proven to be an unstoppable trend, the pandemic has catapulted it to the top. People are more interested in eating healthy, feeling more attractive and indulging themselves. It’s about lightening the emotional load that the pandemic has placed on everyone and remembering the old motto “because I’m worth it”. In this sense, spending on home decoration has soared, sales of recreational vehicles have increased, contact with nature has broadened, people are ordering food from home because they don’t feel like cooking…

We want to have fun in a controlled way and still enjoy life away from work and worries. Any idea that offers something new in this sense, without being exclusive, is welcome in the market.

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