Starting a business in this economically uncertain climate might sound like a bad idea, and the lucky few who still get a paycheck might be tempted to leave their entrepreneurial ambitions aside for the time being. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic is not the best time for risk-taking. But, at the same time, it won’t go away any time soon, and experts estimate that its effects on the economy will last well after a vaccine is found. So, unless you’re comfortable with waiting for two or more years until things potentially get back to normal, now is a good a time as any to start a business.
You need to be extra careful, though. Starting a business requires lots of planning and market research in general, but all the more so in the current context. Because of shifting customer preferences and shaking economies, few startup ideas are as lucrative as they used to be pre-pandemic, so you’ll have to keep an open mind. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your vision has become completely unfeasible, but that you might need to adjust your business model to reflect the new reality.
Here are a few fields that have managed to soften the blow of the crisis and continue to thrive in this unfavorable context:
If you wanted to open a brick-and-mortar store in your area, perhaps it would be a better idea to consider an online store instead. During the lockdown, when non-essential businesses had to close down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, physical retail sales dropped by 89%, which caused many stores to go out of business. Grocery stores and pharmacies were the only ones that thrived, but even so, you can’t neglect the opportunities of e-commerce.
Online shops were obviously popular pre-pandemic too, but COVID-19 accelerated this trend even more, and experts argue that it changed shopping forever. According to a recent survey, more than half of respondents now shop online as opposed to going to physical stores, even after stores have reopened. And who can blame them, considering that online shopping is faster, safer, and more convenient?
According to IBM data, the pandemic accelerated e-commerce growth by five years, and retail changes are here to stay. So far, it seems that home improvement, personal care, and groceries are the categories that reported the most significant growth, while fashion and travel items have experienced the biggest decline.
Remember, every market is different, so before opening your online store, make sure that what it sells is still relevant to your target region!
Web and app development
E-commerce wasn’t the only sector accelerated by the pandemic. In fact, the digital transformation process as a whole has become a huge area of investment for businesses. According to PwC data, 52% of business cut costs because of COVID-19, but only 9% of businesses cut costs in digital transformation. What does it mean for you? It means that if you wanted to start a web or app development company, your services are now more relevant than ever.
Lockdown restrictions had businesses close down their physical branches and focus on e-commerce, which increased the need for professional e-commerce design and development. At the same time, companies had to switch to the work from home model for employees’ safety, which calls for specialized collaboration and communication solutions. Since many business owners have realized that remote work isn’t the productivity killer they imagined and that it can actually save time and money, WFH is expected to stick around even after defeating the pandemic.
Another piece of good news is that you won’t have to limit yourself to your local market. Recent research suggests that businesses are focusing on outsourcing to cope with the financial challenges of the pandemic, and that they’re more likely to outsource rather than hire. So, if you’re a freelancer, your inbox might soon be flooded with offers.
Wellness products and services
At the turn of the century, wellness was nothing more than a niche. However, after growing at a 6.5% annual rate, the wellness industry is now valued at $4.5 trillion, makes up for 5.3% of the global economic output, and is expected to have a whopping development in the following five years.
The pandemic is responsible for part of this growth, but, before that, it’s important to understand the general context. In the past decade, the preferences of the modern consumer have changed; they are no longer a purely consumerist being that only cares about discounts. They are increasingly responsible shoppers who care about the environment, the impact of their choices, and, most importantly, of their own physical and mental wellbeing.
In a society deeply affected by stress, anxiety, and fatigue, wellness products and services offer a much-needed getaway. Whether it comes under the form of a spa visit, CBD joint, cup of herbal tea, or at-home aromatherapy session, self-care is becoming a non-negotiable part of the modern consumer’s week. The pandemic further amplified this trend: more time spent at home, combined with the added stress and anxiety, made people focus inward on their mental health and invest in products and services that offered them that much-needed respite. Of course, everyone has their own personal definition for “wellness,” but, judging by the available data, the most popular sub-sectors are beauty and personal care, nutrition, fitness, and natural and complementary medicine.
When you’re only allowed to go outside your home once a day or more emergencies, you have to think twice about your shopping trips. And besides, most restaurants and cafes are closed! These two factors were the main driving forces behind the growth of delivery services, and experts argue that the habits that we picked up in the past six months won’t change anytime soon. Having food, beverages, and groceries delivered to your door is convenient and time-saving, so if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to supplement your primary income source, delivery services are a great idea.