You are probably aware of the old saying that “there’s no time like the present,” but is this particular present really a good time to do anything but hunker down and wait until the pandemic passes? You might have watched as small businesses closed their doors forever, or so many people lost jobs. Even big businesses had to make dramatic changes. And yet, even in these darkest of times, there are some entrepreneurs who are just “foolish” enough to think they can be successful in starting their own small business.
Are you one of these “crazy” people? Perhaps you are uncomfortable with your destiny being held in the hands of a corporation, or you might have found that you are really good at managing your own time and taking matters into your own hands. You might wonder if you really need the stress and uncertainty of opening a business, with all that entails. But, you know what, in spite of all the pandemic downsides, it feels like there just could be a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. For some brave entrepreneurs, this could be exactly the right time to take advantage of the lessons they learned about customer service and working from home to get a business up and running. If successful, you could position yourself to take full advantage of a reinvigorated economy in the hopefully not-too-distant future.
Back in September, before the second wave, The Wall Street Journal reported that, not surprisingly, many small businesses had indeed closed during the pandemic. But an unexpected outcome of all the upheaval was that Americans were also starting new businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade. So, what kind of business are these intrepid entrepreneurs starting? Business News Daily has a great list of small business ideas for 2021, including:
- On-line reseller
- On-line tutor
- Package delivery/drop-shipment management
- App developer
- Cleaning service
- Digital and social marketing services
- Real estate
Spend some time with the Small Business Administration to get tips on the best ways to start and run a small business, and to find small business loan resources. Once you have found your niche and gotten the administrative aspects nailed down, here are some pandemic lessons to take into consideration:
- A Strong Online Presence Is a Must: Many small businesses paid dearly for not focusing much attention on their online presence before the pandemic. Once they were forced to close, they found that customers who wanted information could not easily access it. Those that had products or services they could sell learned that they were woefully incapable of taking advantage of this new online opportunity. Make sure you have a website with a strong marketing message, clear photos of your products, and easy purchasing capabilities.
- Social Media Merits Attention: With more people working at home, there was far more access to social media outlets to communicate with small business vendors. But, the small business entrepreneurs struggled to maintain a consistent social media outreach, and did not have a plan to immediately respond to social media inquiries. Make sure you have a clear Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram strategy where you post regularly and respond quickly.
- Make Sure They Know You Are Open: One unfortunate communication strategy was just “crickets,” where small businesses made no effort to reach out and communicate with current and prospective customers. Instead of letting people know they were still open for business, they languished in a no-man’s land of silent frustration. For your new business, make communication a top priority. Plan how you are going to reach out on a regular basis with new and exciting information, and build a solid e-mail database right from the start.
Remember that the “Roaring 20s” followed our last great pandemic, and maybe that is what can happen again. But, it doesn’t happen by magic. It takes careful consideration and planning, and a strong marketing/communication plan. If you are thinking about starting a new small business in 2021 start doing your research now, and then get going with a plan to put your pandemic experience to work!