How to Create a Successful Pop-Up Business

Jun 23, 2020

You’ve most likely heard of pop-up shops where larger brands or music artists rent small spaces in high traffic areas to promote a new hot product or create hype (check out Justin Beiber’s Toronto pop-up shop that was swarmed by fans in 2016 prior to his Toronto concert). These shops are usually only open for a very short period of time and typically generate high sales by immersing consumers with their brand in an environment completely designed and controlled by them. It’s a relatively low-cost and low-commitment way to generate buzz, introduce brands to new audiences and tap into niche business.

Christmas markets are a great example of a seasonal pop-up that draws consumers in droves for food and drink as well as crafts and gifts.

Now what about a pop-up business?

Just like a pop-up shop, a pop-up business is temporary. It’s a way to tap into immediate consumer needs, test the viability of a product or service and to learn from direct experience.

I tested this out recently with a need in my community for masks as masking for Covid-19 was implemented as mandatory within commercial establishments both for employees and consumers. I tapped into my sewing skills, created a pattern, bought fabric and set to work.

My pop-up business selling $5 home-made masks lasted just over a week with a few residuals. I made over 100 masks with about $150 in expenses. Not too bad if I do say so myself! (Confession, I didn’t know at the time I was creating a pop-up business but I was very happy with the results.)

The Covid-19 pandemic is a good example of an event that enabled pop-up product lines and services for existing businesses such as:

  • Distilleries making hand sanitizer
  • Bauer making PPE shields
  • Pest control companies providing cleaning services
  • Online food sales
  • Self-serve stores
  • Pop-up patios
  • Online fitness
  • Yoga apps
  • Food shopping and delivery services
  • No-touch hot food vending machines

These pop-ups might morph over time into new long-term businesses or they might be temporary to fill the need. Whatever the case, businesses that are able to capitalize on short-term trends can benefit from the income burst. The key is how much to invest and when the trend is over.

If you’re not ready to go all-in with your new business idea, why not try a pop-up to test the market? You can see what the demand is, test the market and learn from the experience. It’s a bit of work and you have to act fast in a short period of time, but it’s can also be very rewarding and a lot of fun!

Want help getting started, or just want to explore an idea for a pop-up business?

Download this FREE Step-by-Step Pop-Up Business Start-up Workbook

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