It’s no big secret: many businesses—of all sizes—all struggling during this pandemic, even as restrictions lift across the country. However, startup organizations are more vulnerable than larger enterprises, and the coronavirus threatens to derail them before they can move onto their next round of funding or find financing.
But if you are one of the brave few who decided to plough ahead with your business goals, there is still ample opportunity. Not sure where to start? Whether you’re a brick and mortar enterprise making the transition to a more digital presence or you’re a startup ready to get your feet wet, here is your guide to thriving during this pandemic.
Hire the Right People
Startup companies rely on talent to help their business grow. These burgeoning organizations don’t need a cog in the machine; they need individuals who can think outside the box, juggle many responsibilities, and treat the company like their own. The wrong hire can cost businesses thousands of dollars and can set back growth by months.
In today’s hiring atmosphere, this is more important than ever. Unbound by the limitations of geographical location, competition is more fierce than ever, and chances are you’ll get hundreds of applications for competitive positions in a startup role. The best way to approach this is to hire a recruitment firm who specializes in your niche. If you plan to hire high-level executives aggressively, which might be the case if you’ve recently raised money, consider a retained search agreement.
Ramp Up Marketing
There is no shortage of ways to make money online. Even brick and mortar stores can make a successful transition to a contactless experience for consumers.
The tricky part for new OR existing businesses looking to increase digitization is maintaining a strong connection to their consumers. Even if you are not in their line of sight, you cannot afford to be out of their mind.
So what do you do?
You need to focus on your company’s marketing strategies. The most straightforward way for existing businesses to capitalize on internet marketing is to collect customer emails in brick-and-mortar retail spaces or via ecommerce transactions.
Then, you need to follow up with your customers. There are free email outreach management programs that businesses of all sizes can find value in. A simple follow up on a lost sale or a reminder for an upcoming discount is all it takes to keep your business’ name fresh in your audience’s mind.
At the end of the day, that’s all marketing is: associating your company with the solution to a consumer’s problem, so that when the problem arises they think first of your services.
Not everything in cyberspace is simple. The truth is, there are plenty of bad actors on the web looking to take advantage of a green entrepreneur with stars in their eyes. The digital space is ripe for abuse—if you aren’t careful.
A robust IT department is always helpful, but if your company is closer to a one-man-band than a corporate outfit, you can still make do.
Look for cloud storage with tight security. Sometimes, you might even find use for a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs protect your company’s IP address, your location, and other vital details of a company you might want to keep confidential.
Your technical literacy (or lack thereof) could be a liability if you don’t invest in the right tools. If you are relying on freeware and technology that delivers the goods at a discount, you’re going to get results that reflect such.
But if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you can easily find yourself on the short end of the stick and spending exorbitant amounts on basic ecommerce tools. Set yourself up for success and spend some downtime learning about what it takes to thrive in the digital space.
Better yet: look at the success of your competitors that you would like to emulate in the digital space. What are they doing right? What do they have that’s missing on your site or in your social media presence? Emulate what you like by reinterpreting it. NEVER copy or plagiarize your competition, but there is nothing wrong with letting them inspire you!
Social Media is King
If you choose one facet of the digital world to conquer, it should be some form of social media. There are more than 4 billion social media users worldwide, so your target audience can surely be found online.
Of course, not every social media platform is conducive to every type of business. To be a successful entrepreneur in the digital space, you need to know which platform will best help you reach your goals.
For instance, if your target audience is teenagers, you wouldn’t launch a campaign on Facebook. You would focus your efforts on Instagram, which offers a faster paced, youth-oriented experience. Twitter is great for businesses whose niche benefits from the fast and frequent sharing of news and information.
Social media is unique as it gives companies a lot of leeway in creating intimate relationships with their audiences. These connections can be as formal or informal as possible, but entrepreneurs should tread carefully.
Creating a unique voice on the web while remaining professional is harder than you think. Remember that your company’s social media profile should reflect your company’s values and mission—NOT your personal ones.