Research publication: Crisis management of solo entrepreneurs in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic

The Microentrepreneurship Research Group at the Kerttu Saalasti Institute at the University of Oulu has published a study in the Nordic Journal of Business describing the crisis management of Finnish sole entrepreneurs during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March-June 2020, nine entrepreneurs from different regions and different industries participated in the multi-case study, describing the impact of the acute crisis situation on their business and the management solutions and future prospects they had made.
nainen katsoo tietokoneen näyttöä kädet ristissä

According to the longitudinal study, cutting current expenses and temporary operational shut downs were the first, immediate coping measures taken by entrepreneurs in response to social distancing and changing customer needs. Within a few weeks or months, entrepreneurs shifted to business-sustaining activities such as using their own savings, applying for business grants and other external funding, and focusing on replenishing product stocks for future demand.

Some entrepreneurs used the time to focus on forward-looking innovation activities such as reforming their company's marketing practices, in particular the development of websites and e-commerce functions. Some entrepreneurs also embarked on a broader business model overhaul or focused on developing their own entrepreneurial skills in order to contribute to coping in the post-crisis period.

The study provides new insights into crisis management among solo entrepreneurs. The main output of the study is an updated model of short-term crisis management interventions used by solo entrepreneurs. The results suggest that firms of all sizes, including solo entrepreneurs, should proactively seek long-term, innovation-based strategic solutions before an acute crisis hits.

This study confirms the previous understanding that the survival of firms in crisis situations that limit physical encounters is facilitated by an inflow of more than one service or product concept, especially those offered on digital platforms. Developing the entrepreneur's own skills is also a strategic investment to successfully face crises from outside.

The authors of the publication are Anna-Mari Simunaniemi, Martti Saarela, Matti Muhos, Santeri Halonen, Eeva Leinonen, Heli Kurikkala and Markus Rytinki.

Simunaniemi, Saarela, Muhos, Halonen, Leinonen, Kurikkala and Rytinki: Short-Term Crisis Management of Solo Entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Business. Vol 71, No. 4, 2022.

Image: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

Last updated: 2.5.2023