When I was speaking with a client earlier this week, we were discussing how rough this year had been. COVID obviously has been a big factor, but it's not the only one. This got us talking about what we would do if we had to start a new business in 2020. Neither of us were too sure. I thought it was a question worth exploring, so I did some research. What I found surprised me, so I wanted to share it with you.
Â As the world has changed throughout 2020, many new small businesses have thrived. If you're wondering how, here are the three things we discovered.
I wouldn't have believed you if you told me at the start of 2020 that I'd voluntarily be taking gym classes over my phone. But here we are! COVID has forced many businesses to find innovating ways to live in this new world, and the strangeness of 2020 doesn't seem to be ending just yet.
At AZ Big Media, a new article about "10 awesome ecommerce business ideas to try in 2020" is a great primer to understand what e-commerce does in 2020. E-commerce is a great way to reach out to audiences across the world in order to find the widest reach for your product or service. That's not new, but what is new is that services that provided in way would not have thought possible in 2019. So, let's get into AZ Big Media's ideas, and our thoughts on the topic.
The full article for AZ Big Media is a good understanding of e-commerce companies. They offer possibilities for anyone that wants to work online. SEO editing, content writing, IT support, and social media marketing are some of the common ideas they discuss. But as AZ Big Media points out, but they're not the only ones. Two concepts they floated that surprised me in particular were the idea of working as a virtual assistant and handling the kinds of tasks that previously would have to happen in the office, as well as providing digital health services to aide doctors and nurses during COVID. Both are the kinds of work that need doing but which only marginally accepted until recently. (telemedicine and virtual assistants existed prior to COVID, but their adoption has greatly increased).
Small businesses that are trying to find new ways to operate during the 2020 global crisis have been turning to the online marketplace for help of this nature. So many companies have had to migrate online due to COVID, so it makes sense that these jobs have become more important. If you're a small business owner yourself, you might benefit from an e-service, digital experience businesses like these. And if you're trying to start an e-service business, make sure that you have a way to stand out from the pack.
Business plans are necessary for all businesses, but that is truer than ever if you're starting new in 2020. Any business that has been operating this year can probably tell you all about the strange struggles they've faced. So many of my clients and friends have been talking about this very issue, and how they have been trying to predict the unpredictable. Thankfully, it's times of crisis like this when a business plan comes in handy.
We've talked about business plans before, and we have even made some templates of business plans that can help you design your own. Growthink shared similar ways to help in a recent article titled "Business Plan Template & Guide for Entrepreneurs." But to help break down some of the biggest ideas, we wanted to highlight our three top ideas for you:
Setting metrics for your own success are vital. Know what is a win, and know what is a loss for your business. Make sure you know what the industry standards are and know how to stand apart from the pack.
It isn't enough to set metrics. You also have to measure your success as well! Whether starting a new business or continuing an older one, in 2020 you'll have a lot of strange situations to face. Make sure that you know how you are doing. If things go wrong, that's where our third step comes in...
2020 has thrown a lot of new reasons to stress out at every business owner. If you don't know how to course correct and prepare for the problems you'll face in the future, you're going to be left behind. Change with the times and you'll be able to stay strong in the face of everything.
This is the last major thing that I noticed while reading about how small businesses have been surviving in 2020. In fact, it has been about noticing how larger business have NOT survived during that time.
This is the biggest recession period in the 2000s. And sales in the retail industry have been hit harder than many could have predicted. People are spending less, and more stores are closed. New York Times reporters Sapna Maheshwari and Ben Casselman wrote a great piece in April about how poor sales were in March and how much has changed since the start of the year. And things have only gotten stranger since.
So, what can be done? Well, there are a lot of mistakes to think of. Big businesses can't adjust as easily to the smaller problems faced by the community, having to go up corporate ladders and to face problems on a macrolevel. Beyond that, smaller businesses mean smaller inventories. As seasons have changed, so have the needs of customers. Back in March, there were still heavy coats on fashion retailers' shelves and St. Patrick's Day merchandise in stores. Now it's July! What now?
If you're a business owner today, you can take steps that bigger companies can't (or at least shouldn't) be able to access, such as the PPP. But if you know what your business needs and how you can survive, you can outlast the problems that bigger stores will be facing.
I called my client again yesterday, and I told him the three strategies that I picked up on from my research. I broke it down as this:
So, my client asked me what kind of new business I would start in 2020 once again. And I had a good answer for him. To his surprise, I had an answer:
I would open a e-service small business. But, to my surprise that any kind of small business can succeed if they are smart about how they do it!
That's the thing to do right now. Operating a small business wisely and safely in 2020 is maybe the smartest decision of all when it comes to new ideas. Doing something that sets you apart and makes you special is always the best course of action. Needless to say, my client felt a little more confident after that. And to be honest, so did I!
Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkedIn profile