Starting a new business during the pandemic

Signage notes COVID-19 guidelines in a store at the Mall of America
Signage notes new guidelines in a store at the Mall of America on June 10, 2020 in Bloomington, Minn.
Stephen Maturen | Getty Images

The middle of a pandemic may seem like a strange time to start a business. But that’s what many people are doing

The number of business applications in the United States shot up to record numbers over the summer and remained strong through the fall

This is unusual during a recession. And, the trend offers a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak landscape as hundreds of thousands of small businesses struggle to survive during the pandemic and economic slowdown. 

The startups and new businesses include high-growth firms funded by venture capitalists, but also sole proprietorships and mom-and-pop establishments. Some people have launched side gigs to make up for a lost job or declining income. Other people are pursuing their dreams now because they have more time on their hands. Others were intending to open in 2020 and forged ahead despite challenges. 

Have you started a business recently? Are you thinking of starting one? 

On Tuesday, MPR News guest host and Marketplace senior economics contributor Chris Farrell spoke with a small business owner and a small business advocate about what’s driving the boom, and what can be done to help young businesses succeed.


  • Gary Cunningham is president and CEO of Prosperity Now, a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that works to expand economic opportunity for low-income communities. 

  • Alex West Steinman is co-founder and CEO of The Coven, a Twin Cities-based co-working and business incubating space  for women and non-binary people.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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