How I’m thinking about Opportunity in the Lockdown

I’m reading the news here in the depths of the Pandemic, and I’m kind of boggling at how many stories are still seeking the hot stock: What stock is dominating? What will survive the pandemic? Where are people putting their bets? What’s going to change? It’s all speculation as if times are totally normal except the market is sliding down the wrong side of the curve.

And I can’t answer that…but it helped frame my thinking about starting up in a Depression. So here it goes:

In 2025 they’ll be talking about a hot stock, something that’s magic and sexy and dominating. That hot stock that doesn’t exist in 2020…maybe not for 3 or 4 years. But it’s going to be something that was born specifically out of this pandemic. And I’m not talking about a vaccine or therapeutics or tele-health or more work-from-home chaff.

I’m talking about a wholly new business model that exists within and because of the long-term changes the Pandemic forced on us. But what is that?

I think today, May 1, 2020, it’s too early to know. This Pandemic is the sort of ground-leveling event that allows a huge number of genuinely new business ideas to grow very quickly — not to mention cultural and political. Lots are guessing what that is, but it’s clickbait-ey right now.

Rather than wait and look back, I’m taking notes. So how am I starting to ideate? I’m using this sheet. It’s 11×17 and I keep it close and just jot things on it when I think of them.

Pandemic CHange Worksheet

Things We Didn’t Expect to Change shows me where the inertia is. What things are so accepted that nobody thinks of them changing? What was their reaction? It it better now?

Things that Needed to Change and Sped Up are concepts that were slowly transforming and got a kick. This is where better mousetraps suddenly become relevant. New pains, new solutions.

Things That Will Go Away are businesses or models that the Pandemic renders moot. These markets will go away or pivot radically. They were usually but not always on their last legs in the years leading up to 2020. But they are also things we came to realize in 2020 were never actually necessary. What fills the vacuum?

Things That Will Stay Changed is the hardest to gauge and most important to watch. These are the things that don’t ever snap back in place. I think many people overestimate what will ‘stay changed’ in the post-pandemic world, so this draws some important bounds on how one goes after new opportunities.

Things can fit into more than one square, and even shift as time goes on. The idea is that the pandemic is a moving target, that we’re all muddling through the First Part, but that we’re in a long-term shift that won’t be done playing out for a decade.

I also think it illustrates the next Big Thing is going to meet a need that hasn’t quite arrived, and hit that need at a time when shifting preferences bake it into the New Way. That requires quick action and a very clear value. We’ll see what happens.