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Pandemic Motivates New Entrepreneurs to Open Businesses

When dealing with life-altering situations, people tend to reflect on whether they are fulfilling their dreams or have made the best career choices. One of the most notable impacts of the pandemic is the increasing number of people who decided to start a business. According to Yelp’s data, nearly 500,000 new companies were listed on its platform between March 11, 2020, and March 1, 2021. In a conversation with CNBC, Justin Norman, vice president of data science at Yelp, shares his observation about trends that resulted from the pandemic and a resurgence in new and established businesses.

Businesses Reopen and Bounce Back
The past year was bleak and uncertain for many small companies across the country. However, an influx of stimulus funds and new vaccines are helping businesses that were closed or had scaled down their operations bounce back. “As more and more Americans continue to get vaccinated, case counts continue to lower, and Congresses’ Covid relief bill that offers additional aid is distributed, we anticipate businesses that were once struggling over the last year will bounce back,” Norman told CNBC. “We see this evidenced through the 260,000 businesses that have been able to reopen after temporarily closing.”

New Trends May Not Go Away
With time on their hands, consumers decided to take on more home improvement projects. Yelp notes this intense interest resulted in a 75 percent increase in review mentions for home office renovations and an 80 percent increase in mentions for bathroom renovations over the prior year. “I anticipate that we’ll still be more people invest in higher-quality home offices or improving their homes,” Norman said. “With warmer summer months coming and the number of vaccines being administered continuing to increase, people who aren’t planning to return to the office this year may focus on more home improvement projects.”

New Technology Changes Interactions
The new restrictions put in place due to the pandemic accelerated the need for companies to adopt new technologies. Social distancing and the surge in online buying changed the way businesses interacted with customers. Local operations have incorporated many of the technical tools that are now available into their daily activities. “It’s been incredibly impressive and encouraging to see how many local businesses, both in large cities and smaller towns, have embraced technology to serve customers during this challenging time.”

  • 1.5 million businesses updated their hours through Yelp
  • 500,000 businesses promoted their virtual services
  • 450,000 operations created custom messages directed to customers

Searches Related to Housing Market Surge
The demand for housing and the drop in bank rates has fueled an interest in all things related to obtaining a home. “It was also surprising to find that consumer interest in notaries was up 52 percent on Yelp, as many federal and state rules allowed remote notarization,” Norman said. “While Yelp data can’t provide an in-depth look into what people were notarizing over the last year, Yelp data does see an astounding demand in the housing market coupled with low-interest rates and housing prices in certain markets.”

Going Digital is Here to Stay
Businesses that survived and overcame the challenges posed by Covid have found new ways to operate. It’s been a learning experience, and there’s no going back to the days before the pandemic. “We’ve seen more and more businesses embrace app-enabled delivery, software tools like reservations and waitlist, and consumer-oriented communications tools like the Covid health and safety measures. The digital local business is here to stay,” Norman said.

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