Why Now Is The Best Time To Start A Business: Taking Advantage of Opportunities
I'll be the first to admit that starting a business in today's digitally-driven economy can be intimidating.
In fact, that's a large part of the reason I started this site.
Which social media accounts do you need to focus on? How do you craft the type of digital presence that will drive real, human customers to purchase from you? What exactly do you need to do about SEO?
There's certainly a lot to think about.
But all those things to think about also result in more opportunity than ever for prospective small business owners.
The Opportunity To Test Your Idea
In the pre-Internet era, testing an idea to see if it would work was a lot more complicated… and expensive. But in the year 2019, there are many cost-effective options to pilot your idea.
If you want to sell a physical product, you no longer have to abide by the minimums imposed by your local manufacturer: look for makers online that could produce your product in very small production runs. This will allow you to see what sells before committing to ordering larger quantities. Depending on your product, also look for manufacturers or vendors that offer drop-shipping, requiring virtually no up-front inventory investment from you until after you test a product by seeing what your customers actually order.
If you are offering a service instead of a physical product, there are still plenty of affordable options available to test your concept. You have the unprecedented opportunity to make your customers part of the conversation. Try giving away your services for free or at a discounted rate to a few fans willing to provide you with feedback about your offering. The ability to ask your customers directly what they need not only leads to a product that sells, it also helps you build a loyal base of customers invested in your success from the very beginning. Which leads us to…
The Opportunity To Build A Following (Pre-Launch)
In the year 2019, we have the opportunity to build awareness of and excitement about our businesses before we have even launched them.
This opportunity was virtually nonexistent 50 years ago.
Set up your social media accounts now, even if your product and service offerings aren't finalized. Go ahead and buy your web domain(s), even if you still need to construct your website. Start sharing content that your potential customers would find valuable, for FREE. Consider telling the story of building your business or brand from the ground up, in real time.
This community of potential customers that you can build prior to launch is invaluable. Their input on what you are selling, how you are selling it, and your overall brand presence allows you to adjust to your market before ever having to go through the pain and expense of a failed product or service launch.
The Opportunity to Avoid the Brick and Mortar Altogether
There is one question I ask every potential small business owner I talk to: do you really need a physical location? For most businesses, the answer to that question in the year 2019 is no. The problem with leases (and worse, mortgages) is that startups need to retain their ability to be flexible… and a lease or a mortgage on a physical space is the opposite of flexible.
Even after taking advantage of the ability to pilot your idea and build a following online, you still may need to pivot after you start selling your product or services to customers. If you can avoid the monthly expense associated with a brick-and-mortar location, you'll retain the flexibility to shift direction if needed.
If you need to commit to a physical location longer-term, consider whether or not there is an option to put off that commitment until you've been able to establish your business and move out of the startup phase. For restaurants and businesses selling physical products, consider shorter term options such as pop ups, food trucks and booths at special events. For service businesses, consider working from a coworking space or coffee shop when in-person meetings are necessary (as opposed to leasing or purchasing permanent office space).
Are you planning to start a business in the year 2019? How have you taken advantage or how do you plan to take advantage of the opportunities available online? Let us know in the comments.