Many would-be entrepreneurs have been reluctant to move forward with starting their own businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contrary to popular belief, this is actually an exceptional time to take the leap and launch your own venture. Interest rates are low, and for better or worse, businesses that shut down during the beginning of the pandemic are now selling equipment, product, and inventory at rock-bottom prices.
Of course, before you open a business, you’ll want to be sure there is a market for your product or services. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, developing a detailed business plan can help you outline anticipated start-up and operational costs, as well as make decisions about where you’ll operate, who you’ll sell to, and the kinds of financial and human resources you’ll need to get started. Secure your business license and open a business bank account as the first steps. This will position you to apply for small business loans as necessary.
Establish Office Space
Whether you’re operating your business from a public storefront or from a home-based office, getting your workspace in order is important to the initial startup. According to Zapier, the way you set up your office can actually make you more productive. If you’ll be working from home, a dedicated workspace — including office furniture, computer, printer, scanner, and office supplies — will be important. If you’re operating from a public space, you’ll want to ensure employees are outfitted with the work equipment they’ll need and that the office is welcoming and inviting for patrons.
Plan Your Budget
Start-ups have to watch every penny, and while you want to keep costs low, you also need to recognize the value of your own time. As the business owner, your attention needs to be focused on big-picture operational priorities. As such, it’s worth hiring out some services you don’t have the time or expertise to do yourself. For example, use a pro to build your website, write your blog or provide article writing services, and develop your marketing strategy. If you can’t find these people locally, you can locate them online via a virtual job board.
Use Your Resources Wisely
The less money you spend on start-up, the more resources you’ll have on hand to keep your business operational until you have a full slate of customers. Contact a local commercial real estate agent to help you find suitable lease space if you need it. Most property owners are offering great deals on empty inventory. Look locally, regionally, and online for going-out-of-business sales and auctions where you can pick up inventory and equipment at great prices
Hire the Right People
As other businesses have gone under during the pandemic, well-qualified people have been looking for jobs, so there’s a good chance you can find highly skilled talent looking for new employment. If you hire freelancers or independent contractors, you can save on paying benefits and unemployment insurance, as well as taxes. If you’re looking for people with special skill sets, an employment agency that focuses on your industry can help you build the right team.
Expand Your Focus
If you live in a rural area or small town, cultivating clients and customers can be a challenge. Consider the options for promoting your services nationally, or even globally, via the internet. If you can offer products or services online, you’ll expand your reach exponentially. You might want to retain an e-commerce specialist to help you in this area. A skilled individual can help you develop an online sales platform, as well as aid in managing the logistics of marketing, selling, collecting payment, and shipping products.
Zero In on Customer Service
One thing that sets businesses apart from one another is the type of customer service they provide. Make your customers a priority and train employees on best practices for attracting and keeping customers and increasing positive word-of-mouth advertising. If there’s a problem, fix it, and empower employees to resolve issues, as well. Ask for testimonials and referrals from happy customers as a way to grow your business and expand into new markets.
Become a Networking Pro
As a way to promote and expand your business, learn how to network effectively. Join local industry associations and business groups, like chambers of commerce or Rotary clubs. Support local community events and sponsor youth sports leagues and booster clubs. Look for ways to refer businesses to other entrepreneurs and ask for their referrals in return. The more you’re active in your profession and in the communities you serve, the easier it will be to run a successful operation.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created issues for business owners everywhere, the tide is changing, and opportunities abound for savvy entrepreneurs to enter the market. Don’t feel like you’re taking advantage of the misfortunes of others by making the most of the current market situation. Consider your start-up to be an investment in your local, state, and regional economy that will help the entire business community rebound with gusto!