Churn is Here – More on the Way
Jim Correll, director Fab Lab ICC at Independence Community College, Independence Kansas
A couple of times in the past, I’ve talked about the churn that happens with businesses, even in healthy economic times. Markets change, wanting new and innovative solutions to problems; some problems we’ve had for generations and some problems caused by solutions to other problems. Churn occurs as some go out of business, failing to recognize this need for constant and new solutions while new entrepreneurs come along looking for new ways to provide solutions. I talked about the unrealistic expectations by some who long for businesses in downtown and main street districts that never change, none ever going out of business. It would just never be that way, I said, with ever-changing technologies and people always being on the lookout for better solutions. I even said we should celebrate the churn.
Unnatural Pandemic Churn
Now, as we come through a year of unprecedented churn, not only up and down main street in rural America, but in all areas, rural and urban and not just in the United States but around the globe. It’s nothing to celebrate as thousands upon thousands of businesses will not survive the shutdowns and general disruption caused by this dreadful pandemic. Business would have been slow enough just because of the pandemic, but in some states, there were ill-conceived and arbitrary forced business shutdowns while the science is not even clear that the shutdowns have done that much good in preventing the spread of the virus. In a strange twist, some businesses have done extremely well during the pandemic. Few of them will say anything because they don’t want to be insensitive to their business neighbors who have suffered so much.
The shutdowns in some states will continue for a while, but no one can predict how long even as some states figure out how to open their economies. The narrative by the experts keeps changing on that. At first, they said there’s no way a vaccine could be ready before spring or summer of 2021 but that once everyone was vaccinated, we could get back to “normal.” Then, the vaccine came out before the end of 2020. Now, they are saying “Whoa, wait a minute. Just because you get vaccinated, you still need to wear the masks and social distance. We may not be back to “normal” until well into 2022.” In the shutdown states, it’s not clear how long the governors will drag them out. The longer the closures, the greater the churn.
What’s In Store for Entrepreneurship?
So, where do we go from here regarding business churn, especially those of us in the business of helping with business start-ups and small business growth? With a sad realization that this whole situation is tragic, we’re going to realize that when the dust, or pandemic as it were, settles, there will be people and there will be a marketplace and there will be room for new and innovative solutions in the marketplace and as long as we have a free, market-based economy, there will be opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Jim Correll can be reached at (620) 252-5349 or by email at email@example.com. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Fab Lab ICC or Independence Community College. Archive columns and podcasts at www.fablabicc.org.