The latest number of unemployment claims reported by the Washington post has risen to over 38 million workers in just 9 weeks. On April 16 The Wall Street Journal published an article announcing once-again record setting unemployment claims filed due to the coronavirus crisis: over 22 million workers filed for unemployment in one month. Forbes reported the number jumping to over 26 million unemployed people April 23, most of which are lower-wage, blue collar workers. To put it in perspective, Forbes highlighted, only around 9 million people lost their jobs during the Great Recession of 2008. Obviously such numbers are foreboding to the U.S. economy in general, but how does this number compound fiscal issues burdening the citizenry even before the coronavirus spread to our economy? Pre-virus era, for example, nearly one in five Louisianans were unemployed. In Florida, only 14% of unemployment claims were paid out in March. Families with two jobs living paycheck to paycheck before the crisis are spending their retirement to make it through the hard times. Jobs aren’t plentiful, and competition for those available have become even more fierce, leaving many feeling helpless in the face of looming poverty.
But, in many developing countries, poverty is often the rule, not the exception. According to the WHO and World Bank, half of the world lacks access to essential health services, with 100 million pushed to extreme poverty because of health expenses. Struggle is a daily theme to so many global citizens--but they must move forward. Many individuals in Academy participating countries experience this level of poverty, and yet move forward with new businesses. What Academy principles could help those who suddenly find themselves out of work in the United States?
There is no wrong time to start a business
We are commanded to provide for our families and that commandment doesn’t take a break when we get laid off or the stock market is down. We know when the Lord gives us a commandment, He prepares a way for us to accomplish that commandment. If there are no jobs, then the Lord will be intimately involved in helping you build your own work.
You don’t need investors or lots of capital to start a business
If Jesus can turn stones into bread, He can help you turn pebbles into the cash you need to start your venture. You can take something of no apparent value, overcome people who say no, and trade until you have the cash you need to start your business. Sayala, a student in the Academy’s Recifi, Brazil residential program, and her husband are parents of three and recently unemployed. She said, “the first activity of ‘the stone’ changed my life that day, because it showed me how I was able to transform something insignificant...at the moment we don’t have any money to start, but that activity reminded me that I can start anyway.” They’re now plowing their way forward to begin a restaurant using the principles of the pebble to trade services with a nutritionist and a graphic designer. Check out more stories from our program in Recifi, in this article.
We keep records of how much each cohort raises in capital with the trading activity. You may think with social distancing being the rule around the world, the trading activity would be even tougher. However, the most recent numbers from a trading activity in Peru proved the opposite! Using online tools, the Peruvian students raised nearly $3,000 in just one Start Now! course.
Sell what the market buys
This is our number one rule of thumb. There’s no wrong time to start a business, but it’s never right to start a wrong business. Selling galoshes in the Sahara or garden hoses in the Amazon may not be the wisest business ventures. It’s crucial to know your market, and every challenge brings an opportunity. What do people need now, during this pandemic? What openings do you see in the market? Webcams, toilet paper, and fabric face masks may be in high demand this month--what about the next month? What shortages can you help fill?
Success doesn’t come alone
Local chapters are the secret sauce to the ACE approach to business. Neighbors, friends, and family learn, grow, and support each other as they work to build their ventures. Our participants in Venezuela, though in the middle of fierce financial and political storms, find the community approach the most helpful part of their involvement in the Academy. Although the struggles rage around them, they don’t have to face it alone. They’re surrounded by a team of like-minded individuals who create a continuous network of support. Who do you know who is a success in business? Who do you know who has a struggling business? Who do you know who has lost their job? Create a chapter of your own and lift each other up.
So if you’re one of the 20 million, dig into the business world, first, by hitting your knees. Your greatest business partner, one who will always know what to do with the markets or how to find a supplier, will always be our Heavenly Father. Trust in Him to help you provide for your family. Let us know your business idea on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the #COVIDstartup.