Small Business Opportunities in a Post COVID World
COVID-19 has disrupted most businesses by making it hard to operate in the normal way. Most small businesses have experienced a drop in income as customers reduced expenditure to the most basic needs. However, the crisis also yielded several opportunities for discerning entrepreneurs.
We delve into some of the opportunities and silver linings that have emerged over this tumultuous year.
The ecommerce sector has experienced substantial growth during the pandemic, as most citizens are avoiding travel and public spaces. The reduced movement has increased the use of digital shopping channels as customers prefer them over physical stores. For existing businesses the push for an online presence has been one that can’t be ignored and have had to seize this opportunity to maintain or increase their sales
A slight iteration of online shopping has been to use strategies where customers buy online but pick up the goods at stores in an arrangement that minimises contact. Entrepreneurs can also look to partner with businesses to provide services such as inventory and data management solutions.
Even if you’re not looking to start an online business, this year has proven it’s critical to at least have a presence and way for your business to operate online.
Most learning institutions are responding to the pandemic by adopting digital learning tools. Students are also attending online classes to compensate for the missed opportunity to learn in a physical environment. The shift in learning models has created a demand for digital learning applications. Innovative firms can collaborate with learning institutions to provide learning management software and AI-powered learning tools.
The demand for telemedicine is at its highest as the lockdown had forced patients to seek healthcare whilst staying at home. Research indicates that most healthcare consumers are receptive to telehealth solutions with some firms in the segment experiencing a substantial rise in demand since late last year. It is likely that more consumers will utilise telemedicine after the crisis is over as they will have become accustomed to this model of healthcare delivery.
The high demand for telemedicine translates to business opportunities for small businesses. Small firms can provide services such as ongoing patient support, health report management, and AI-powered solutions. The demand for partnerships will also increase as healthcare providers seek partners to support patient management and data analysis.
Digital Payment Platforms
The COVID-19 crisis has increased the use of digital payment methods due to reduced movement and the need to reduce contact during interactions. Customers are also heeding public health advice to make contactless payments as a way of reducing the risk of infection. Firms are responding to the challenge by developing inclusive digital payment solutions for their customers. This is an opportunity for small businesses to create intuitive digital payment platforms that customers who are not tech-savvy can use with ease.
Digital Communication Tools
The restrictions on movement have forced many employers to find digital technologies that will aid communication and interactions with their employees. Employers are increasingly relying on teleconferencing tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The switch to remote work has further increased the demand for digital office tools.
Small firms can exploit such business opportunities by developing (or partnering with existing) applications that enable client organisations to make real-time remote communication with their staff. Entrepreneurs can also help marketing agencies interact with clients using digital technologies. The opportunities include organising virtual exhibitions, trade shows, and product demonstrations.
The Delivery Industry
There is high demand for delivery services for food and other goods that are not available on mainstream ecommerce channels. Small firms can use this opportunity to offer delivery services in areas such as ready-made food and groceries. Existing businesses (particularly in the hospitality industry) have the opportunity to add this as part of their own services as opposed to using third party providers such as UberEats and Deliveroo.
Further to this, the surge in demand for ecommerce has overwhelmed the logistical capacities of most firms. This presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs to devise innovative order fulfilment and product delivery models for clients. Drone companies can also team up with a wide range of industries to provide hygienic delivery solutions.
The COVID-19 enforced lockdown has boosted demand for digital media as most people spend time at home. People compensate for the lack of social gatherings by resorting to digital entertainment. Consequently, there is an increase in demand for streaming content, online gaming, and social networking applications.
Small businesses can exploit this opportunity by introducing new apps that make it fun to share content or connect with others over social media. Entrepreneurs can invest in content and sell it to streaming sites like Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime Video.
Small firms can also invest in online games as most young people turn to gaming sites for entertainment and socialising. Firms should be innovative in designing such games to cater to a diverse customer base. This may involve creating games that load on mobile devices and offer cloud-based platforms where players can stream games without needing to buy expensive hardware.
The fitness industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, but struggling instructors can reduce the impact by adopting digital technology. Instructors can use digital instruction models to develop training programs that appeal to their clients. Meanwhile, equipment vendors can integrate live (or recorded) classes and other forms of content with their product so that clients can learn independently.
A lot of innovative entrepreneurs invented business models and applications to address critical needs that emerged through a crisis. Such innovations range from apps that alert citizens on lockdown restrictions in different states to engineers who have developed low-cost healthcare equipment. The challenge will be turning these ideas to sustainable businesses in the post COVID world.
Such innovators can turn their ideas into viable businesses by pivoting. This involves studying the market and identifying an alternative problem that the concept can solve. For example, a Vietnamese restaurant adapted to the change in market and began selling facemasks and educating customers on the importance of them. The key in identifying a market is to understand the customer and conduct a thorough analysis of the market.
The COVID-19 crisis has hurt a lot of businesses, but has also yielded business opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs. Most of the opportunities have emerged in the digital technology sector. Small firms can use digital platforms to improve customer service or sell new products to other firms.
Even as you explore ways to grow your business in the post COVID world, do not forget to meet the superannuation needs of your employees. Contact us for further consultations about the options available for your business.