New business ideas for 2020: Beating the recession

This article is not about the next unicorn startup, $1B business idea. If I had that, I wouldn’t be here, probably.

This article is about our new world reality, a reality in which 26MM people have lost their jobs and industries have been brought to a halt, and will take months or years to recover.

So, this article has business ideas for everyone. They might not become unicorns, but can certainly provide a job, a lifestyle, and the potential to grow if you are good at it.

To me, being an entrepreneur was a choice. I went the corporate route and then decided to quit my job to start my own business. Not anymore. The next wave of entrepreneurs, the world will see, were likely employed up to March 2020, and their new businesses will come from necessity.

The thought exercise for this video was, what if I had lost my job, what would I do?

So billion-dollar business ideas don’t come under pressure. They happen rarely, and they take months and years to test and develop. You might not have months or years.

So if I didn’t have a job, and couldn’t find one, the first thing I’d do would be generating some income for stability, which would allow me to think straight and use my spare time to nurture that other idea.

Finding a job is easier than starting a business- and if I were to find a job in today’s environment, I’d start by navigating my network, people I know, instead of applying to openings where I don’t have any relevant advantages.

But that’s not what this article is about.

What to focus on

The same rules for unicorn startups apply here: the first team needs to be able to generate $10,000 without having to hire anyone else. If you are missing a specific skill to get there, then that person should be a co-founder, not an employee.

Food business

I think there’s an opportunity here. People are working from home, might not have time to cook, and want to avoid junk food while spending less. There’s a growing market that will not stop when the world reopens.

I expect similar legislation will be available in other states and other countries soon.

Platforms like UberEats have allowed plenty of tiny kitchen operations to spring around the world, small enterprises that probably couldn’t afford to maintain a full-fledged restaurant in a location with foot traffic, but are now exposed to a whole new audience.

Another idea, websites

But, there’s an opportunity on retail; which has been forcefully digitalized, and many stores were not prepared to be completely online.

While you might think Amazon rules the world of online shopping, and they do, there are still billions of dollars of retail transactions occurring from small stores; many operated via Shopify.

Not a commercial for Shopify, but there are over 500,000 stores in the platform, not to mention Squarespace and Webflow.


a) Build a store of your own; it’s super easy.

b) Help other people with their stores.

All these platforms have been created so that small entrepreneurs can build and host their stores, and they are all pretty easy to use. Still, not everyone is tech-savvy.

There’s an industry for people who are experts in these platforms to offer help to the business owners, either configuring the stores from scratch or making adjustments and changes. I know the CEO of, which connects those two. Check it out.

Freelancing platforms

While 99Designs is design-focused, Upwork connects people with skills ranging from writing, administrative support, customer service, marketing, accounting- with potential clients.

We are looking for people who can help us subtitle these videos to multiple languages, and started our search in Fiverr :D

The first money I ever made as a designer came from Upwork, $99 for a Flash animation. Ancient history.

These might sound like just freelance work, but entire companies have been built around successful Upwork or profiles. You just need to be good at what you do and work hard to stand out.

Virtual assistants

We have also spent a fair amount of money on platforms like UserTesting and UsabilityHub. When we have a new interface or design that we want to test, we put it there and survey users on what their thoughts are, and whether or not they found it intuitive.

You can join as a tester and make money for each review that you make. You might not be making a living from it, but it’s income while you sit at home, which is what we are doing anyway.

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Offer services

I think the need for TaskRabbit-like platforms exists around the world, but as far as I know, they don’t have a strong presence outside the US.

Affiliate programs

You can also become someone’s hero by referring them to Slidebean!

Content creation

While it’s not easy to stand out in today’s competitive content and content marketing world, I believe two key variables our content has are genuine stories and excellent production value. Now, we get tons of questions around the tools we use to make these videos. All the background animation is done in Adobe After Effects.

I found a thorough course by Jake Bartlett that goes over all the details on Skillshare, that I am happy to recommend.

Skillshare agreed to give us 1,000 codes to get 2 free months on the platform, which you can access by clicking here.

Another course I can recommend is Caleb Babcock’s iPhone Filmmaking. It’s a quick 30 minute class on Skillshare, on creating Cinematic Video With Your Phone.

We publish 2 weekly videos on startup advice and company success and failure stories, a series we call Startup Forensics.

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