Lockdown’s ambitious entrepreneurs: Lessons for success as a digital entrepreneur
The uncertainty of the last 15 months has meant adapting to an unfamiliar way of life, both at home and at work. Lockdowns and restrictions have made us realise how many things are out of our control. The pandemic meant that many people were taken out of their comfort zone due to job losses and furlough and, in turn, has created a surprising number of bold aspiring digital entrepreneurs.
Experimental data from the Office of National Statistics shows that between Q2 and Q4 2020 there were 285,965 businesses created, employing 725,457 people – more than in the same period in the prior two years
Starting up a business is both challenging and exciting, and the excitement will build as more of the country opens. But remember that anything can change at any point and business should learn from those who have run a business during the 2020 pandemic and how they embraced digitalisation and diversification to get through.
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Lessons for success for the digital entrepreneurs of 2021
Lesson 1 – Preparation
Education and preparation are powerful tools for any business. In the infancy of your company, understanding potential problems your business may face, such as lockdown closures, remote staff working environments, health and safety and more gives you a chance to plan for difficulties.
Be sure to establish the right kind of data gathering channels so that your business is resilient and you can quickly identify the most impactful changes if they are required. Keeping your continuity plans updated means you have procedures ready to go that ensure any unexpected events will have minimal impact on your business.
Lesson 2 – Financial support
During the past year, restaurants and shops faced multiple periods of reduced or even no trading as part of the government response to the pandemic. The situation has resulted in changes in company financials compared to the previous year, and for young businesses, this has been both a driver of innovation and a restriction on success.
There are several relief options available such as grants and recovery loans that may help keep your business running. When you update your continuity plans, check that your understanding of available assistance is accurate. You can also think of ways that will enable you to continue to offer your goods or services if your usual marketplace is closed or your customers’ demand changes.
For a retailer selling office wear, for example, fewer people working in a formal office environment means fewer reasons for them to buy smart clothing. This business could find alternative routes to profit such as:
- Remarketing appropriate stock as uniforms for restaurant staff
- Creating exclusive discounts for employees of local businesses
- Diversifying their lines to carry more casual products
- Using fun social media posts to sell “Zoomwear” that’s business on the top and casual on the bottom
Lesson 3 – Customers
The key driver in your success is your customers. A study conducted by Forbes states 84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue, clearly demonstrating that your success lies in meeting their needs. Communicating relevant information such as changes in opening hours, social distancing, and safety guidelines keeps them up to speed on the best ways to interact with your business.
Your message should appear on all relevant digital channels, including your website, Google business page, newsletters and email updates and social media. Being visible to your customers and actively talking with them demonstrates the values that drive brand loyalty and help you grow.
Lesson 4 - Being digital
Digital technology has reshaped the way businesses operate. Being digital has been essential for the survival of many companies during this pandemic as customers go online to shop and employees have to work remotely. Being as digital as possible allows you to stay competitive.
Those businesses that have been able to adopt digital strategies have been able to function in the current climate and for a new business. Online will likely be your native environment for the majority of your income if you do not have a bricks-and-mortar location.
What can your business do to be digitally savvy?
- Being present on all social media platforms. Being social allows you to stay engaged with your customers on a broader scale and engage in an ongoing conversation to demonstrate your values and culture.
- Create a user-friendly website. As more customers purchase online due to convenience, more people will buy online if further business restrictions occur. The easier it is for customers to find what they want on your website, the quicker this will result in a sale.
- Use video conferencing such as Zoom, MS Teams, Google Meet or Skype to stay in touch on a more personal level with your employees who are working remotely.
- Manage your finances with easy-to-use accounting software such as BTCSoftware, which allows you to easily complete statutory year-end work and gives your business or practice flexibility and control in how you choose to work.
Lesson 5 - Going beyond digital
Refreshing or establish your company culture for a new way of working will be high on many businesses’ priority list after the announcements of further easing of restrictions confirmed this week. With many businesses looking towards a future of either fully remote or hybrid working, teams of all sizes will need to innovate to discover ways to be a team despite being physically separated. For start-ups with a small number of employees who may never have met in person, this is a chance to create the company culture of your dreams.
Develop your company culture
- Quarterly company meetings with a mixture of fun and business. You could allow each person to take the floor for a half hour update on their activity
- Find ways to identify those who are achieving amazing results or putting in the extra effort. When your team is largely remote you may find that celebrating your successes is harder simply because they are less visible. Ask colleagues to nominate those in your business who deserve recognition, or have a “shout out session” over a video call
- Breakfast drop-in sessions are a fantastic way to get people socialising. At BTCSoftware we have an open invitation to join colleagues on a video call for breakfast every couple of weeks. And because it’s a social, non-mandatory invite, seeing so many of our team logging on is a fantastic indication of the culture at BTCSoftware
- Mental wellness and grievances are two more serious topics for remote businesses to focus on. It can be a lot harder to spot the signs of burnout and anxiety when you only see your colleagues face to face a couple of times a day on remote calls, so be sure to create clear policies and an open culture for those who need to speak with management
Bonus lesson - use fantastic software!
Software is always high on the shopping list for new businesses, so why not take a look at how we can help?