Being amidst a global pandemic heavily affected most businesses and industries throughout 2020. Large numbers of people lost their jobs as companies were forced to downsize, and many small business owners had to face a complete loss of livelihood. This meant that many people found themselves quarantined in their homes with the looming worry of how to make ends meet while also staying safe from a deadly virus.
Come 2021, the vaccine is starting to be administered in many countries, but much lies speculative about how the workforce will take shape. It’s quite likely that things will not jump right back to 2019 normalcy, especially since we’ve had to inculcate an increased consciousness for hygiene and the environment. A big emerging factor during the pandemic has been the value and incredible importance of work in digital spaces.
Remote work has become much more popular ever since many companies were forced to go on running with distance — as well as online education via video conferencing. Somehow, we’ve found a way to go on and the ‘New Normal’ cannot be separated from its intrinsically intertwined enabler, digital space.
Starting a business in 2021, in the New Normal, undoubtedly has to be, at least partly, an online business that can function without proximity. There’s never been a better time to be the entrepreneur you were destined to be, with hiring and available job opportunities scarcer than ever.
We recommend that you look for business opportunities that require a low investment and try to find affordable outsourcing options instead of hiring at the get-go. It’s important to be extra-careful in these precarious times, as no one can accurately predict the post-COVID19 economy. Use resources like the Wix ecommerce website builder, Canva and Boomerang to your advantage.
We’ve put together a list of some ideas for starting an online business in 2021, one that’s not tone-deaf to the evolved 2021 service industries and product markets. Many of these ideas are ‘traditional’ business ideas, and we’ve included some tips on how to navigate the challenges that you might face.
Graphic Design Firm
Graphic Design is a permanent need for all businesses. This one is a traditional business idea to an extent, since there was a demand for graphic designers before COVID19 as well. However, it’s not feasible for many companies and firms that are downsizing to keep a full-time graphic designer, and many are making the shift to hiring freelance graphic designers instead.
But it’s a lot of work for HR and Hiring to constantly scout out good and reliable freelance designers with experience. Graphic design involves understanding the vision and brand image of the company and is much more than the final design or creative that gets put forward. Here’s where you can come in. Setting up a graphic design firm will allow you to be the middleman. You do the work of getting freelance graphic designers on contract, and then reaching out to companies to offer nominal rates. It’s a win-win for all parties involved. The designers get stable income through your clients, and you make your clients’ lives easier.
What’s this got to do with the pandemic? Well, many businesses are now going completely digital and need to work hard to make a digital presence if they want to do well on these new platforms. That means they have to put up constant content that is eye-catching, informative and great advertising for their products and services. With a regular business, you can design one billboard and wait for the customers to find your store. But with a digital business, you have to make some noise on the busy platforms to be heard.
Hyperlocal Delivery Service
It’s not just food that everyone has been ordering to their homes. As it’s always a risk factor to step out and purchase something from the store, a lot of people are looking for a cheap and affordable delivery service that can run errands for them and help them stay at home. There are already many delivery services that are doing this, but you can create a name for yourself by offering competitive prices in a specific area.
You’ll also have to hire delivery drivers, and hiring part-time drivers is a great way for people in the neighborhood to earn some extra cash. You’re creating a side job for people who have a few extra hours to kill in the day. You should take a small commission for the delivery charges on every order.
Your service can also cater to the many home catering and baking food businesses and this will help you get guaranteed orders since these home bakers will likely have their own clientele already that you are now tapping into.
If you’re passionate about cooking and have the skills for it, this is the perfect time for you to launch your own catering business. Since you’re home all the time, you can transform your kitchen into a commercial one and start feeding your neighborhood. You know your neighborhood and locality best — what kind of food do the residents seem to like the most? Is there something missing that you can offer?
Maybe you can cook your family recipes and traditional cuisines. A close friend of mine started her own Korean home catering business after realizing there were no Korean restaurants nearby.
But even if you’re not sitting on a goldmine of family recipes, you should start your business anyway. So many have started ordering out increasingly, and people in your community would much rather support your business than a franchise.
Hold Online Classes
If you’re a yoga teacher, a language teacher, or even a fitness enthusiast or musician — these are all skills that people want to learn. By holding classes online, you can reach many more students than renting out that studio space. All you need to do is create a digital presence and advertise your classes. It’s important to remember that when holding classes, especially on digital platforms, you are the product as much as your class is.
Be cognizant of your image. Students will sign up for your classes when they feel that you’re an expert in your field, and also when you are aspirational for them. A simple ‘Learn Yoga’ won’t work — you need to look and act like the yogi they’ve always wanted to be.
So that you get your business off the ground and appeal to different kids of students — it’s a good idea to have different price ranges. You can have a base price that’s affordable for everyone to join a group class. This can be a big group held on Zoom or Google Classroom where you can instruct and teach.
You can then price more exclusive training and one-on-one time accordingly. This will be for your ‘premium’ students, and can take the shape and form of counselling, provided you have the skills necessary.
Online Thrift Store
While the aim of a thrift store isn’t supposed to be focused on getting big bucks, it can be a very profitable venture for you, while also ethical and environmentally conscious. As growing consciousness and awareness about hoarding and cluttering permeates, many people are looking for ways to give away the excess clothes that they own and don’t wear.
You can source clothes from your neighborhood and put them up on an online thrift store for people to shop. You’ll have to price them accordingly, keeping in mind how worn an item is, the branding, and the original price tag.
If it’s difficult to get people to donate clothes to you (as many would rather give them to non-profits like Goodwill), consider buying secondhand clothing from them and selling it at a higher price in your thrift store. You’ll get a smaller margin than if you had gotten free clothing, but you’ll definitely have a much larger inventory as everyone would like to exchange old clothes for cash.
Whether you’re in a pandemic or not, starting a business is always a challenging task. As an entrepreneur, you’ll likely have a long way to go — but we’re sure that with the right decisions, you can carve out your own success!
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes