3 Ways to Build for The Rise (And Fall) of Businesses

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Cyan Zhong
Cyan Zhong

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Starting a business is now considered the best way to build personal wealth.

That could explain why Americans are leaping into entrepreneurship at record rates – between 2021 and 2023, 5.2m business applications were filed.

Exciting times. 🤘

Screenshot 2024-04-12 at 3.06.09 PM

Source: US Census Bureau 

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The not-so-exciting part? Many of them won’t make it past the first year. Even buzz-worthy startups that raised major capital (e.g. Ghost Autonomy) have faltered. Startup insolvencies are at record high.

But there’s a silver lining – with a high volume of business activity, there are opportunities to capitalize on either end of the spectrum.

Some Companies Are Already Cashing In

Last week we told you legal tech is booming. In that category, LLC formation services are doing especially well, using technology to automate the tedious legal processes of starting a business: 

  • LegalZoom, known for its LLC formation services, did $660m+ in ARR in 2023
  • Its competitor, ZenBusiness, also broke $45m revenue last year
  • A newer contender, doola, recently got a cash infusion from HubSpot Ventures – it’s also the winner of last year’s Million Dollar Pitch Competition. 

On the other hand, many of the same processes apply to winding down a business, and that sector is getting traction, too:

  • Sunset, a dissolution consulting company, 9x’d its revenue from Q4 2023 to Q1 2024
  • SimpleClosure, another contender, raised $4m in February and passed $1m in ARR
  • Equity management unicorn Carta launched its own shut-down solution

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Source: Carta

How You Can Build on This Trend

Don't worry — you won't need to compete with these one-stop shops to capitalize on the rise and ebb of businesses. Here are a few ways to unbundle them and make yourself some nice cash.

1. Help New Businesses

New business owners have a million things to do, and need so. much. help.

By solving for them, you can make a reputation for yourself rather quickly.

🎁 Custom swag: Help new startups need to build brand culture by designing or manufacturing swag that could drive buzz, customer acquisition, or recruitment. 

🧑‍💻 Virtual assistant: With 80% of small businesses in the US being solo ventures, founders are drowning in admin tasks. You can help them source and train virtual assistants affordably, or become a VA yourself.

💻 Digital setup guide: Create a self-guided course to help new businesses build a website, create social media accounts, and look professional online fast.

✅ License expeditor: Help brick-and-mortar businesses apply for and speed up licensing they need to operate, like alcohol license and health permits.

2. Help Failing Businesses

A Sifted survey shows that nearly half of startup founders are mentally  exhausted, and ready to call it quits.

Unsurprisingly, their mental health is taking a toll.

Screenshot 2024-04-11 at 3.16.12 PM

Source: Sifted

There's an opportunity to help them get back on their feet. For instance, provide specialized mental health coaching or career counseling to help founders chart a new path post-sunset. Help them refine their resume and reframe their “failure.”

Or, create a bootcamp or podcast for “disillusioned founders.” Invite battle-tested entrepreneurs to speak, do group diagnostics sessions to help each other spot what went wrong, and organize networking events to rejuvenate attendees for their next steps. 

3. Better Yet… Why Not Help Both? 

Whether you’re starting or sunsetting a company, there are business supplies involved.

In 2023, business supplies was the fastest growing app category, with a 63% YoY boost in unique users.

You can build a secondhand marketplace for companies to trade office supplies, from folders to staples to couches. Companies closing their doors can pass the torch, and recoup some losses, by selling their tools to new founders.

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