In addition to bringing the world to an unprecedented standstill, the global pandemic highlighted everything that could go wrong – and did go wrong – for businesses. People lost their jobs as companies were forced to shut down. Not surprisingly, digital transformation and pivoting business models to leverage the internet helped some industries and their workforce stay afloat. It made a strong case for taking your business online – because that is where your consumers are today.
In some ways, this applies to all businesses. Even if companies sold business-to-business, they were expected to have a fully functional website with up-to-date information at the very least. Even if selling wasn’t possible, these companies could communicate with stakeholders – direct and indirect – about their situation, and in some cases, seek help. Or at least, they could buy some time as a buffer till operations went back to business-as-usual.
Thus, the pandemic has reinforced a core idea that businesses have been toying with apprehensively, not sure if it was the right time to take the plunge; the idea that every company is a tech company, and every business must find ways to sell online. And this has paved the way for small business owners, or those wishing to start their ventures, to take bold steps towards realising their dream.
Online businesses can weather economic storms
The post-pandemic world will present unique opportunities; we already see slivers and glimpses of this. There is a growing push for local, community-oriented businesses and a focus on a workforce-as-family culture that these small businesses embody. Consumers are more willing to buy from online stores with a strong people-focused culture and compelling backstories.
Thus, monetising your passion with an online business is a great way to meet this growing demand. In addition to the of spirit entrepreneurship and ownership, an online business can give the owner freedom, flexibility, and convenience to conduct business aligned to their lives. Be it cooking homely meals, baking, fine arts, woodwork, pottery, writing and editing services, landscaping and plant care, designing pet clothes, and more, every online venture has the potential to create a steady revenue stream. If selected carefully and with the right precautions in place, these online earnings can be protected from the negative impacts of future economic downturns.
But before you embark on an entrepreneurial journey to offset damage from future global recessions with a new online business, here are some things you should consider.
Start by asking yourself why you think now is the right time to start your online business. Is it because you’ve been let go and maybe working for yourself at this moment makes more sense than looking for another unsteady job, or is it because you see an unmistakable opportunity? Whatever your reason, be sure to ponder over it. Evaluate all aspects and make an informed decision.
Is the market ready for your idea?
For any online business, you need to have a product or service to sell. This offering has to be distinct enough and high-quality enough for people to choose you over thousands of others. Once you know your unique selling proposition, consider whether your target market is open for you to make an entry. Also, make a rough process flow of how your offering goes from its start phase to the end; the end result here is reaching your audience. So if your product is a blog or marketing content services, consider what would be the process flow – would you have a repository from which your audience chooses? Would you write in advance, or would your content be written on commission? Whether you want to start a content company, a bakery, a gourmet coffee brand, or a woodworking studio, you need to analyse the flow of work so you can trim inefficiencies and optimise your process. The more thorough your plan, the easier it will be to implement your vision in action. Your investors would be especially interested in this!
Seek expert guidance
The best thing about starting a business today is that you have so many mentor ship opportunities readily available. From connecting with successful small business owners on LinkedIn to walking into their establishments and having a casual chat – getting expert feedback for your business idea has never been more accessible. You could also connect with investors like Ofer Valencio Akerman of Rigstone Capital that have transformed countless rough-hewn ideas into viable business ventures. Getting valuable feedback on your business idea during the planning stage will help you avoid mistakes and course-correct in time.
Start small and evolve
The beauty of online businesses is that you can start small, test the market, and tweak your approach based on results. This is what is called a minimum viable product. When you introduce a product, market it extensively based on your target audience, and see how they react. They might not immediately want your offering, so see if there is an option of free, limited-time trials to get them used to your business. Encourage them to share their experience with you – this feedback will help you serve them better by improving your offering. Similarly, encourage dialog on social media to create more traction for your brand. The more people know about you, the more they will be intrigued by your business and try it.
Once you have a core product that is making steady revenue, develop ancillary offerings. Suppose you own a coffee brand and your most popular item is an instant coffee mix; try introducing cookies that pair well with this coffee or a branded mug that makes your coffee portable. Maybe when things go back to normal, you could launch a cafe that sells a wholesome coffee-date experience. It’s all about identifying opportunities that your audience will appreciate. Slowly, build your product and service portfolio, diversifying your offerings. If one avenue is blocked due to reasons beyond your control, your consumers should be able to tap into others that all channel into your business. The idea is to retain your customers against all odds and ensure your alternate revenue streams bring you stable business profits even in times of future uncertainty.