Many people couldn’t wait for the year 2020 to be over. 2021 seemed like a breath of fresh air; as if everyone had woken up after the nightmare that was 2020. The reality is January 1, 2021, was just 24 hours removed from December 31, 2020. The situation has not changed. The world is still feeling the economic effects of the pandemic. And it’s for that reason, that 2021 is a good – no, great year – to start a business.
From Pandemic To Endemic?
Toward the end of 2020, pharmaceutical companies were scrambling to have their proprietary vaccines available in the market. The vaccines represent some measure of hope that life could go back to normal once people are inoculated.
However, early reports from scientists appear to hint that there’s no going back to the “Old Normal”.
Even after you’ve been vaccinated, you still have to wear a face mask, practice social distancing, and observe good hygiene when in public places. Offices will not run in full capacity. The threat of lockdowns will always be there.
Scientists from the UK believe the pandemic will eventually become endemic or a part of life much like the flu.
If the new normal will just become “The Normal” – then there’s no reason to stop and not pursue your dream of starting a business. You will just have to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior.
People will continue to have needs. And consumer needs will open up new markets of opportunity.
Our Fearless Forecast For 2021
“In the midst of every great crisis, lies great opportunity.”
- Albert Einstein
The lockdowns that ensued after the COVID-19 spread was declared a global pandemic triggered recessions all over the world. Several businesses closed down and never recovered after the economy reopened. Billions of people around the world lost their jobs.
As we discussed earlier, having the vaccines available will not significantly change how we live or work. Life, as we knew it in the New Normal, will continue.
And so should your pursuit of your entrepreneurial dreams!
Rather than give up or wait for a more opportune time – we recommend integrating digital technology into your business model.
The importance of a business having a digital component was highlighted by the pandemic. The businesses that survived and even thrived during the lockdown period were the ones that already had digital systems in place and an online presence.
Businesses going digital is a phenomenon that won’t stop anytime soon – not in the next 4-5 years. The world was trending toward digital as far back as 2015, the pandemic just accelerated it.
Digital is the way to go and it forms the backbone of our fearless forecasts for 2021:
1. Greater Demand for Mobile Responsive Websites
We believe there will be greater demand for mobile responsive websites because the pandemic has significantly changed the online behavior of consumers.
A report from Statista on the effects of the pandemic on online traffic revealed the following:
- A month-to-month increase in online traffic of 7%.
- An 8.3% increase in the number of online transactions.
- A 1% increase in the number of sales conversions.
The numbers may not sound impressive – but take note – this is on a global scale. A 1% increase in sales conversions could mean billions of dollars for a country.
The data was corroborated by the following tech companies that experienced increases in usage:
- Verizon – 75%
- T-Mobile – 45%
- Facebook – 70%
- Marqeta – 82%
The website is your business address on the Internet. That’s where people will go to find your products and services. The website becomes your one-stop destination for people who are looking for information and solutions.
But it has to be mobile-responsive. If you don’t have one or if your current website is not mobile-responsive, give us a call and we’ll get you started.
2. Digital Marketing Will Be the Difference-Maker
A study by global advisory company FTI Consulting Incorporated estimated that U.S. e-commerce retail enjoyed a US$71 Billion windfall in 2020 as more consumers shifted toward Internet-based shopping.
Of course, the shift in shopping behavior was greatly influenced by fears of contracting COVID-19.
We expect the upward trend to continue as COVID-19 remains a health concern for consumers over the next few years.
With more businesses expected to integrate Internet-based systems, the battle for market share may come down to which company has a more effective digital marketing strategy.
The reason for the strong shift toward digital marketing is the process’s ability to target an audience. With targeted marketing, you’re able to maximize your budget by attracting segments with the highest probability of buying your products and services.
Digital marketing also provides you with analytics – real-time data that measures how your strategies are working. Through analytics, you can identify the strategies that are delivering consistent results so you can allocate more resources and maximize the return on investment.
When COVID-19 hit, many businesses cut down budgets for paid advertising and traditional marketing strategies such as TV ads and print ads.
As the economy slowly opens up to life under the new normal, businesses will prefer to utilize more cost-effective processes such as Digital Marketing. This viewpoint is echoed by the consulting agency, Kantar.
3. Demand for e-Commerce Services and Apps Will Increase
As we mentioned in the previous section, the U.S. e-commerce industry benefited from the lockdown measures.
In our opinion, the availability of the vaccine will not significantly affect the upward trajectory of the e-commerce industry. There might be a slowdown but consumers have adapted to the home-based lifestyle.
The continued increase in the number of mobile users, as well as patronage for mobile services, supports our contention that demand for e-commerce platforms and apps will grow over the next few years.
Sensor Tower, an app intelligence and data collection company forecast that global spending for apps will hit US$171 Billion in 2024 or more than twice the US$85 Billion spent on apps in 2019 – worldwide.
What this tells us is that businesses are evolving and adapting to COVID-19 by using digital technology as its new environment.
4. The Freelance Economy Will Boom
Offices and businesses are slowly opening for business and this has given people some semblance of normalcy. However, it’s still widely mandated for offices and businesses to observe social distancing by operating their physical locations at only 30% capacity.
Businesses cannot function properly with manpower down to only 30%. The best option has been for businesses to tap into the freelance economy – remote workers who are contracted to manage select tasks and functions.
Freelancers are individuals who have decided to monetize their specific skill sets by offering their services to companies that prefer to hire talent on a contractual basis or those who are amenable to flexible scheduling.
Under a contractual work or flexible scheduling arrangement, companies can reduce labor costs and increase productive hours.
A report by the largest online freelance platform, UpWork, confirmed that many businesses have recognized the value of freelancers.
According to UpWork, the freelancers contributed US$1.2 Trillion to the U.S. economy during the pandemic. The demand for freelancers has led to more young, qualified, and highly-skilled professionals changing careers from 9-to-5 office workers to remote workers.
Hiring freelancers isn’t the only remote option for businesses.
You can set up your own team of remote workers composed of your current employees. Instead of calling them freelancers, office employees who work from home are called telecommuters.
The advantage of setting up a telecommuting arrangement in your company is that you don’t have to spend time and resources training them.
As current employees, they know their job and have already been indoctrinated into your company culture. Generally, employees are happier working from home and are more productive.
5. Products and Services That Improve Home Life Will Be in Demand
Now that many people work from home, they want to make sure the environment is conducive for productivity. Since they’re spending more time at home, they start to notice things that could affect work from home lifestyle.
For example, pests.
If the home is infested with pests such as cockroaches, ants, flies, and mosquitos it makes working from home very difficult. Of course, disinfection remains a top priority. If you frequently receive guests, you want to be sure your home is COVID-19 free when they leave.
For these reasons, the pest control and disinfection industry have been booming since the lockdowns. More homes – and offices – are having their areas disinfected and sanitized by professional service providers.
Delivery services will continue to thrive over the next few years as people remain wary of their safety. Expect more food retailers and supermarkets to invest heavily in arranging for home delivery services.
Conclusion – How To Approach Business Planning For 2021
Our fearless forecast for 2021 didn’t just give you a snapshot of what we believe are business trends this year. We presented business ideas where there might be opportunities for you to start an enterprise.
The global pandemic changed life and work as we know it. To survive, you have to acknowledge that despite the promise of a vaccine, the future still remains uncertain. To thrive, you have to change your perspective about uncertainty.
Instead of viewing uncertainty as risky, view it as an opportunity. After all, there’s no such business that carries no risk.
How should you approach business planning for 2021?
- Conduct Research. In addition to our inputs, conduct research and try to uncover other trends that are developing at the time of the new normal.
- Learn To Work Past Your Comfort Zone. If the idea of running an online or Internet-based business makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re not alone. But you have to work past your comfort zone because digital is the current reality. Build up your knowledge about technology and test a number of apps that you can use for your business.
- Measure Risk and Reward. Truthfully, there’s no difference between business planning for an online model and a brick-and-mortar model. You still have to measure the risks and the rewards to come up with courses of action and entry/exit strategies.
- Be Open to Outsourcing. As your business grows, you’ll have to scale up in order to accommodate increasing demand. The best option for online businesses is to outsource work to remote employees such as freelancers and virtual assistants. For sure, you’ll save more money but you have to take time when it comes to selecting and hiring remote talent.
Let’s move past calling the time we live in as the “new normal” and just accept it as the normal. There will always be opportunities for you to capitalize on. Having a fresh perspective on the present will help you build a successful future.