Running a business can be risky and uncertain. The amount of diligence needed to manage a business and turn it into a successful one can be overwhelming. Time, money, people, and effort are all at stake in ensuring your business thrives in a sea of entrepreneurs with the same goal of taking a slice of the pie. This year proved to be even more challenging as it posed an adverse threat to public health and the economy at faster rates than one could ever imagine.
In March 2020, COVID-19 began to spread globally and was ultimately declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Countries started to shift their priorities and impose health protocols to manage public welfare and reduce economic impact. As the world stayed indoors, the pandemic also took a hit on the economy, resulting in businesses either slowing down or shutting down.
The effect couldn’t even be more glaring and damaging in the Philippines, where micro, small, and medium enterprises or MSMEs are considered an integral part of the economy. The toll left many big and small businesses with no choice but to take grueling measures to survive or face the harsh option of ceasing operations and, eventually, closing their establishments. Rebuilding might seem to take a while as the country grapples with its efforts to halt the virus and provide economic relief for individuals and businesses.
While COVID-19 is still in play, and many business operations are still affected by public health standards and restrictions, there is also the hope of adapting to the new normal on the horizon.
Starting a business and doing it online are plausible pathways to achieving success in this delicate time in the economy for those who can navigate this crisis.
Here are four tips to start a business or refocusing your business goals during the pandemic:
1. Identify your market and what they need the most right now.
Knowing how your business can answer the demand during a public health emergency can be advantageous. Who wouldn’t want to start with a guaranteed footing in the marketplace? Different services show more robust demands today, such as cleaning and delivery (to cater to sanitation needs) and logistics and transport (to bring goods and even groceries to places with strict quarantine protocols).
While it is essential to make sure that COVID-proof business ideas are in place, it doesn’t mean that it should be shortsighted. Though it would be nice to have a good starting point with demands that are certain and booming today, don’t forget to consider your business’s long-term specifics. Study what products or services are sought after in your area. See how your business model can address a particular demand and then start focusing on your target market. Assess whether it is viable in your setting and if you have a good chance of capturing your market.
Conducting adequate research on where your products or services stand in the market can help you decide rationally and creatively. Match it with the passion and enthusiasm for success, and you’re already taking a big step forward.
2. Create a digital marketing strategy and connect with your consumers on social media.
Most countries still discourage crowds from gathering. In the Philippines, where some localities are easing their community quarantine protocols, staying at home is always a better and wiser option to avoid a massive influx of people in public places. The shift in consumer behavior led to the drastic need for businesses to adapt to digital and online infrastructure to accommodate online selling, transactions, payments, and marketing.
As buyers start to search for and purchase their goods online—whether it is food, clothing, groceries, or essentials—it solidifies the fact that, for now, consumers are digital natives. Since people cannot go out like they used to, traditional marketing tactics may not be your ideal first point of reaching out. Yet, marketing remains just as crucial as ever. This is where investing more in digital and social media marketing comes in.
The best part of going digital is that it doesn’t have to be costly at all. You can build your branding and promotional materials using free design resources like Canva for Negosyo, which gives you access to customizable branding kits as well as design and marketing guides. Let social media help you engage with your customers genuinely with product updates, fast customer service, and after-sales engagement.
3. Think practical and straightforward.
Starting a business can be overwhelming. You might want to start by doing the most for this venture, especially during the early stages. And no one’s stopping you from giving your best shot and effort but don’t drift away too much from the basics. What do you want to achieve for your customers? What should consumers expect from your product?
It is vital to keep your business principles grounded and set. Create statements for your mission and vision. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Set your goals and corresponding roadmaps as you navigate your operations in the time of COVID-19. This also means that you might have to narrow your sights to an achievable and sustainable product line, especially when your resources are tight due to financial constraints or ongoing restrictions in your location. You can consider doing long-term planning once everything settles down.
When it comes to building your brand, begin with establishing your online presence through social media. Take advantage of the free features that social media platforms give to businesses. It’s only practical to initially focus your initiatives on putting your products or services in a positive light through these avenues.
4. Be adaptive and optimistic.
Setting up your business for success doesn’t stop at merely starting the engine. You have to keep it running and take control. It is a continuous process of development and risk-taking. Deciding to begin a venture during the uncertainty of a pandemic is a feat already. How to maintain and drive it to its full potential is another challenge in your business journey.
As the country continues to battle COVID-19, always be on the lookout for the latest news and information. How the government and private institutions solve the public health crisis and the economic downturn is vital to your decision-making. Some national and local protocols can affect the way you do business, so knowing them can help you adapt and plan accordingly.
Welcome feedback from your family and friends and, most importantly, your customers. It is critical to improving your products and services. When customers communicate with you, see it as an opportunity to learn something new about your business from outside lenses. In doing so, you are allowing yourself to take further strides to develop and grow.
The subsequent months after establishing your business can be difficult. For some, results may come in faster while others take a while and start slow. It will test your patience and your will to pursue the path of entrepreneurship. So this is when you must remain flexible and optimistic in your approaches and actions. Catch up with your partners and employees by keeping open communication and staying transparent with your decisions. Keep your determination and faith in your business ideas.
Facing a pandemic is hard enough to deal with for most of us. Starting a business might seem out of place at a time like this. But like any other crisis, preparation and quick response are keys to overcoming difficult circumstances. And it has always been the same way for businesses. There is always a lot at stake, even more so in these extraordinary circumstances. Is it in you to face the challenge of entering the marketplace and pursuing success?