Pandemics, as well as recessions, have a way of permanently changing how we do business. COVID-19 has taken a world full of consumers who are used to mega-stores and large-scale events and shifted us to video conference calls and shopping online more exclusively.
Even with all the recent changes and turbulence, there’s always room for innovative new businesses to launch.
Many small businesses are thriving during COVID-19, such as delivery services, custom signage, cleaning services, game and puzzle makers, food and alcohol sales, and loads of e-commerce ventures.
Do you have an idea that fits this new landscape?
If you’ve been preparing to launch a business, don’t let a pandemic get in your way.
All you have to do is make changes to your game plan that play into our “new normal.”
Don’t Assume Everyone Is at Home
While essential workers have been keeping our country safe and running as smoothly as possible, the general public has still required shopping for food and medicine, and sometimes a lot more than that, too.
As restrictions to stay home loosen, more and more people are venturing out. It’s crucial to keep this in mind when considering your business model.
How will your business market and operate?
Which parts of your business can you take online?
Can you meet both online and in person sales needs?
It’s an important distinction to make before launch because you can change how products and services are being provided in the current altered life, and you can add other sales and marketing channels as conditions change.
Can you sell online now and launch your brick and mortar location later?
Can your employees work remotely and potentially this can be the ongoing way you work going forward, saving thousands in leasing and real estate charges?
According to recent polls, so long as the threat of COVID exists, the majority of Americans will be staying home more often (#SaferAtHome). Still, many people are finding themselves stir-crazy and willing to take calculated risks to get outside.
The argument for providing an in-person experience can be made, but we are far from life going back to “normal” as we once knew it. Social distancing is going to be here for a while—so when you open your doors, be ready for constant disinfection, PPE, contactless delivery, less-than-maximum capacity, and other changes.
With COVID-19 still lurking, your business will benefit from including both in-person and virtual components. And those virtual elements will most likely continue even after the threat of the coronavirus has subsided.
Website and Social Media Presence Is a Must
More time at home means a lot more scrolling on social media. We’ll soon hit a point where people spend more time using apps on their phones than watching TV. Americans already spend considerable time online shopping: 8 out of 10 people shop online, and more than 50% of these online sales come from a mobile device.
Not only do you need a robust website with a secure shopping and checkout platform, but it also needs to work seamlessly on a smartphone or tablet.
Social shopping has quietly been creeping up on us, and with Facebook and Instagram rolling out huge updates to their shopping platforms, social shopping is only going to get more popular.
Giving consumers the ability to shop your products or services directly from Facebook and Instagram will soon go from experimental and trendy to must-have.
It’s always strategically advantageous to reach out to consumers on a personal level using social media, and all the more so now that people are spending more time on social channels.
Using social, you can connect with your followers, clearly communicate your company vision, mission, and the steps you’re taking to make running your business safe for both buyers and employees.
Partnerships and Online Influencers
While people flock to social media as their source of news or connection to their friends, family, and favorite brands, there’s a business opportunity to reach consumers using paid advertisements.
This can be done using traditional paid advertising campaigns on gold standards like Facebook or even popular new platforms like TikTok.
In addition to paid ads on social media, you can advertise through partnerships with other brands or with industry influencers. These kinds of advertising campaigns can help market your products, increase your following, or gain brand recognition.
Try enticing influencers with paid sponsorships or mutually beneficial giveaway deals. Up to 74% of social media users state that they trust influencer’s product recommendations while shopping.
Be Flexible and Creative
Ask anyone who was already running a business when COVID-19 struck; everything can change in an instant. When it comes to business, it’s always to your benefit to be flexible.
If your business is selling handmade goods in a local boutique, a dangerous virus could have you pivoting to online sales. If you’re used to generating leads through large-scale in-person events, pivoting could mean learning how to host webinars. Creative solutions will look different for every type of business, but necessity is the driving force behind innovation.
A great example is the SARS pandemic in the early 2000s that kickstarted the popularity of an eCommerce company named Ali Baba that changed online selling and dropshipping in a major way.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already been the catalyst for significant tech innovations that help people work, socialize, and shop remotely.
While it’s caused many businesses both small and large to shutter, it’s also resulted in the acceleration of technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality, which will play an indispensable role in how we work and shop in the future.
Make sure to keep up-to-date on the latest technology and business innovations that could impact your business. It can pay to be an early adopter, especially when launching a business, global pandemic or not.