Any budding entrepreneur is taking a leap of faith by launching a new business, regardless of whether or not the economy as a whole is strong at that time.
And for good reason: 90% of new online businesses fail within their first four months of opening their operations.
That’s a staggering statistic, and it almost surely feels more concerning for potential business owners due to the simultaneous COVID-19 pandemic.
Even if you had plans to start a new business before COVID-19 struck, you will need to rethink your approach for obvious reasons.
For one, most entrepreneurs are rethinking their business plans, as well as the way they intend to operate the business to adjust for new safety measures.
But, that doesn’t mean you should give up on your dream of starting an online business.
Could it be difficult? Absolutely. But it is always a challenge, even in normal times.
Take time to consider how you’ll overcome the common hurdles new business owners face first. And then be sure to consider the additional problems that came with the pandemic.
If you can successfully maneuver both, you’ll be able to make it work with your new online business effort.
After all, you want to be part of the 10% of online businesses that will succeed. So focus on advanced planning to alleviate the bulk of the risk we all face when venturing out on our own.
Let’s look at some specific areas that you’ll need to get your arms around to position the business for success.
Do You Have What People Want?
Needless to say, people’s priorities have shifted during this pandemic.
There are certain industries that have seen a growth in popularity. Some industries have grown due to necessity, such as healthcare, while others have seen a heavy decline.
The e-commerce fashion industry, for example, is down 40%. The travel industry is also down, but may see an uptick as more restrictions are lifted.
It’s important to balance what people are looking for in these times of uncertainty, and what your long-term goals will be.
Take a look at the industries that have seen exponential growth throughout this pandemic, including:
- Delivery services
- Home improvement
- Pet products
- Home beauty products
- Fitness and health
So if you want to make this work, you need to have a clear understanding of your target audience as well as what they find important.
You may want to adjust your niche or offer different products/services based on those needs and current trends, especially if you feel like your current e-commerce business is sinking because of the pandemic.
Don’t worry; you don’t necessarily need to completely change who you are. Instead, consider proactively working to shift your identity over time.
This may be time for a rebranding effort so you can start with a clean slate and reinvent yourself in a positive way.
Consider some of the industries listed above, and how your current business might be able to include them or shift slightly to fall into one of those genres.
Additionally, it’s important to stay in touch with your current customers or followers.
Even if you’re just starting out as a new business, you probably already have some people in your corner.
Reach out to them via surveys or emails. Maybe even offer a form on your website where you can gather data about what they like, what they want to see you offer, and any other information that can help you to grow and stay relevant.
Changing Your Business Model
In addition to possibly changing the goods or services you provide, you might also need to change your overall approach.
From a business standpoint, the smart move may be to start taking advantage of subscription commerce to make life easier and more streamlined.
B2B commerce is great for ensuring consistent revenue streams each month, while motivating your customer base to be long-term, loyal followers of your brand.
While we’ll talk more about marketing below, now is also a good time to shift your approach to SEO and your website. Change your content to fit today’s culture and overall tone.
Optimize your page load times. Do whatever you can now to rank higher in the SERPs.
Don’t forget that many businesses are switching to online-first models, so your competition will be more intense than ever.
Even if you do have a brick and mortar store or only focus part of your efforts toward an online format, changing your model to put more attention on your digital platform could help to boost your success during these trying times and beyond.
You don’t have to do it all at once. Take baby steps to improve your technical SEO strategy, starting with the most effective landing pages on your website, and then proceed from there.
Focusing On Marketing
Marketing has always been important in the business world. The stands true no matter whether you have an online platform or a brick and mortar store.
But, in the wake of COVID-19, your marketing strategies and techniques probably need to be adjusted.
Now, more than ever, people want to feel connected. The pandemic has caused many people to feel alone thanks to social distancing and quarantining.
Brands can make a difference by reducing the volume of “advertising” they push out into the market. Savvy marketers will instead focus on rebuilding relationships with fans, followers, and potential consumers.
This strategy is nothing new. Some of the best things you can do to connect with your target audience include:
- Q&A sessions
- Answering questions/comments on social media
- Livestream videos
- Regular website/blog content updates
It’s also important to stay on top of marketing trends. This is especially true when it comes to understanding your target audience and how they respond to different marketing messaging and platforms.
For example, studies have shown that video marketing is 10 times more effective than text.
Start using short-form videos to show your audience that there are real people working behind your business. It will help your brand to seem more approachable, honest, and trustworthy.
If you choose to move forward with starting a business during COVID-19, be ready to recognize and respond to any feelings of overwhelm. We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty at the moment. But, it isn’t impossible.
Your business is not doomed to fail, and you can certainly be a part of the 10% of success stories.
By adjusting in line with these suggestions, you can find that success with your online business and get through to the eventual ending of this pandemic.
Beyond that, you can build a long-lasting brand that will enjoy continued growth for years to come.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.
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