Have you put your business plans on hold since the world went into lockdown at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic? While it’s been a rough few months for small businesses, it might be time to finally move forward with your great idea. Not only does starting a business offer a DIY solution to unemployment during the COVID-19 era, but the changing landscape of the economy means there are plenty of gaps to fill. Plus, while the pandemic has slashed spending in some categories, other industries are growing faster than ever.

It’s not all good news for would-be entrepreneurs, however. As banks tighten commercial and business lending standards, it’s becoming even more difficult for small businesses to secure startup financing. As a result, entrepreneurs who do launch a business during COVID-19 have to be adept at bootstrapping and stretching their startup capital.

What does that look like for your startup idea? Here are four tips for launching your business in the COVID-19 era.

Build a Low-Cost Business Model

Starting a small business doesn’t have to cost a fortune — especially not now that remote work is mainstream. By starting a business from home rather than leasing or buying commercial space, you can majorly slash your company’s overhead costs.

Need employees? You can do that from home too by building a fully-remote team. Before you hire, ask if you really need full-time, in-house help or if you could outsource work to freelancers instead. While independent contractors like virtual assistants and graphic designers may charge higher hourly rates, the overall costs are lower than employees.

Dedicate Yourself to Digital

Web-based businesses are among the cheapest to start for entrepreneurs on a budget, not to mention the most doable during COVID-19. With little more than a website and a social media presence, you can start a business dropshipping goods online, creating digital courses, or offering virtual classes and consulting.

Don’t underestimate the importance of that website, however. Without a physical location, your website is your business’s calling card. It needs to look great and function seamlessly in order to catch and keep customers’ attention. Rather than trying your hand at a DIY website builder that may not work across all devices, let a web company like One Brick Tech design a custom and cost-effective solution for your business.

Just as important as a website is a small business’s social media presence. Social media is one of the cheapest marketing tools available to small businesses, as well as one of the most effective. However, it’s not enough to post blindly. The most successful social media marketers are the ones who use the platform to engage and inform their audience, not merely sell to them.

Create Cash Flow Quickly

When starting a business without a lot of money to spare, your priority should be creating cash flow as soon as possible. Keeping startup expenses low helps with this, but entrepreneurs should also look for projects that move quickly, minimize inventory, and keep customer payment terms brief early on.

Another cash flow solution is to keep your job (or find one) and start your business part-time. While it means slower growth, stable income takes a lot of weight off a new entrepreneur’s shoulders.

Learn Before You Leap

Still unsure about starting a business right now? If you’re not quite ready to make the leap, or if you’re realizing you have a lot to learn before starting a business, consider going back to school before pursuing your entrepreneurial goals. It’s easy to save money here too, with options for earning a business degree online. Whether you’re pursuing a B.S. in business management or an MBA, you’ll walk away confident you have the know-how to lead your business to success.

Starting a business is a big leap no matter where you’re at in life, but it can feel especially risky during a pandemic. The truth is, there’s no bad time to start a business. As long as you know where to look, opportunity is out there just waiting to be seized — the smart way, of course!