As millions of people across the globe continue to lose their jobs, the idea of starting your own business has suddenly become a potential fall-back option for those who may never have considered it in the past. There are some definite up sides to self-employment but do not be fooled in to thinking it is an easy ride. Managing your own business, especially in times of economic uncertainty, is one of the most challenging things you can do. In the past, starting up was difficult but governments are starting to realise the benefits of promoting and supporting new enterprises. Loans, grants, and advice are all available if you are willing to spend some time researching the kind of government help that is available in your country. If you have an idea and the determination to pursue it with the same kind of diligence and dedication you would apply to a full-time job, there is no reason you cannot make it work. Here’s Probella’s guide to starting a business in the Covid 19 era.
Accept that uncertainty is inevitable
Though this might seem like a rather abstract point to begin with, embracing the uncertainty of running your own business is critical. There are no guarantees, problems are frequent and no matter how well you prepare, you will always come up against situations that push your resolve to the limit. Since Covid, the stability of the global economy itself has been called in to question. At the time of writing, some countries are beginning to see a small but not insignificant upswing in stock markets, interest rates and other economic indicators. This bodes well for the future, but as social distancing is in still in place and the world is still not back to normal, it does not necessarily mean things will continue this way. Businesses that have been created to profit from Covid have enjoyed some success, but as this situation is transitory, they are unlikely to last unless they are offering anything of real value. Profiteering like this is unethical and will ultimately reflect badly on you as a person and as a business.
Researching a business now, compared to this time last year is a vastly different process. Entire industries have collapsed or been shut down, people’s incomes have begun to fluctuate wildly, and the way people prioritise their lives has changed, too. When researching your business idea, it is essential to rely on current, relevant information that pertains to the current climate. For example, before Covid, opening a rehearsal space that doubled as a performance venue could have been a fantastic way to generate an income and provide a platform for musicians or other performers. Attempting to do this now would be almost impossible in some countries until there is some clarity on when social distancing will be relaxed all together.
Look around for similar businesses and learn from them. Both their successes and failures can teach you a lot about which strategies work and which should be avoided. Though you do not need to agonise over every detail, understanding how the marketplace you are preparing to enter is operating will stand you in good stead to actually generate an income.
This process will vary depending on where abouts in the world you are based. In Europe, the UK, the USA and Australia, governments are encouraging people to start up their own businesses with a variety of low cost or interest free loans. In certain circumstances, some people may also be eligible for grants that do need to be repaid. When working out how much you need to get started, consider how Covid might impact on what you are trying to do. For example, will you need to spend money on PPE or social distancing measures or things like delivery services. Using your money to finance a business means you will not have to pay anybody back but do be aware of the risks of starting out on your own at a time of economic uncertainty. For many people, a little bit of financial help can provide that much needed feeling of security in the early days of a business.
Your Online Presence
At Probella, we have always believed that your online presence is one of the most important elements of any 21st century business and since Covid 19, this has never been more relevant. Second only to ensuring that you can deliver the products or services you are planning to sell; online activity will be likely to take up the majority of your time as a new business owner. Whether you are designing and creating content yourself or using a professional agency to help you, getting your brand and your message out to people who matter is paramount.
In 2020, people look for everything online before they consider other options. Though some older people may still prefer browsing in person or doing business face to face, the modern world is based on online interactions. This means your business needs to be well represented in the digital space. Even if you are providing a very physical or practical service such as waste disposal, gardening services or one to one fitness tuition, in order to find customers, you will need to be visible and easily accessible online.
People are leaving Facebook in their droves and the toxic undercurrent on twitter is forcing people to minimise their use of that platform, too. Though this is arguably a result of the stress and tension caused by recent global events, social media is definitely not like it was ten years ago. Businesses can still use these platforms to advertise their services and engaging with potential customers in a friendly, genuine and professional manner is definitely encouraged, but you will need to be prepared to field hostile comments, attempts to hack your page and even false claims about your products. The key is to treat social media is just one part of your marketing strategy, with website activity, YouTube content, blogging and other mediums to help you appeal to the widest cross section of potential customers you can target.