Currently, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-COV-2, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19. Although most people who contract the virus have mild symptoms and recover after around one or two weeks, it can be fatal to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Thousands of people around the globe have died from this disease, which is why we’re currently living in a way that most of us aren’t used to. Most people are being asked to stay at home as often as they can and only leave the house when absolutely necessary, non-essential businesses have been closed down, and everyone who can is working from home.
If you’re sitting at home waiting for it to be safe to go back into work again, you might be wondering what you can do to feel productive and use the lockdown period to achieve something. While there’s nothing wrong with simply resting as well, many people find that having something to work on is good for their mental health. And if you’re unable to work right now and have been furloughed until further notice, you might have found yourself with more spare time on your hands than you’re used to, so why not use it wisely?
Many people are using the COVID-19 lockdown to begin laying the foundations for starting their own business. While the current situation might make it difficult for you to start taking on clients and customers right now, depending on the type of products or services that you plan to offer, there’s definitely a lot that you can do in order to have your business ready to launch once the world goes back to normal. Here are some suggestions to consider.
Improve Your Business Qualifications:
Starting your own business doesn’t require a degree or any other formal qualifications, but if you have been considering doing some studying in order to help you improve your business knowledge and achieve more success with starting your own company, there’s never been a better time than the present to get started. Sites like Udemy are currently offering heavily discounted online courses as they know that lots of people want to spend lockdown being productive and learning something new, so you can snap up a bargain.
Or maybe you want to focus on something more serious? While lockdown will hopefully be over by the time you’ve graduated, there are plenty of online degree programs that you might want to enrol on and get started with now. Aston University Online has an article on the various MBA programs that are ideal for preparing yourself for business ownership.
Write a Business Plan:
If you don’t already have one, you should write a business plan before you start taking any further steps to set your business up. Your business plan is an essential document that will help you determine which steps to take first and which directions to go in when putting your business together ready for launch. In addition, your business plan will also be necessary if you decide to apply for business funding or pitch your idea to an investor in the future. You can use your business plan as you go along to make sure that you are staying on course, or to help determine whether or not certain changes need to be made. When writing your plan, consider factors such as who your biggest competitors are and how your business intends to compete with them, who your target audience is and how you will market to them, and how much profit you expect to make in a certain time period. You can find business plan templates online to help if needed.
Design a Visual Brand:
The first step to take is designing a visual brand; once you have this covered, you will have a clearer idea of what you want your website and other aspects of your business to look like. Bear in mind that your brand is much more than just a logo; it should be the face and voice of your business. But that being said, you’re not going to get very far without a logo, and this is often the first thing that new business owners create as it sets the tone for the rest of the visual brand. Consider brand colours, too – find two or three colours that work well together and represent your brand and what it is going to offer. You can get help from a branding professional using sites like LinkedIn or Fiverr.
Set Up Your Website:
If you’ve already got a business idea, know who your target market is and what you’re going to be selling, you’ve got plenty of time on your hands to set up and start building your online presence. Start with a website; there are still plenty of web developers and designers who work remotely and will be happy to build a site for your business or if you want something to do and enjoy being creative online, why not try building your own with a platform like WordPress, Shopify, or Wix? If using WordPress, look into plugins like Elementor, which allows you to build a professional site easily with no coding required.
Prepare Your Content:
Once your website is ready, it’s time to start preparing the content that you’ll be providing to your target audience. Even if you’re not in a position to get your business launched until after the lockdown period is over and the pandemic is a thing of the past, you can use this newly found free time to prepare as much content as you can in advance. That way, once you’re back to your normal routine and don’t have as much time on your hands any longer, you won’t need to worry about writing blog posts, creating infographics or putting explainer videos together as you will have a library of pre-prepared stuff to post.
Build Your Social Profiles:
Just because your business might not be ready to trade just yet it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay any attention to social media. In fact, social media is one of the best tools in your box for creating some hype about your upcoming new brand launch and engaging with the people who are likely to become your first clients and customers. You can start using social media now to find out more about your potential client base and target audience, figure out what kind of content gets the most engagement, and encourage followers to sign up to email newsletters and similar that you can use to share content and promote your products or services in the future.
Test it Out:
Once you’ve got the basics covered, you’re in the perfect position to start testing things out now, so that once you launch your business, you know what’s going to work well and which strategies are best avoided. A/B testing is an ideal choice as this allows you to test two different strategies at the same time and determine which one gets the best response; this will help you make the best choices when it comes to marketing your products or services after the launch of your business.
While we may not be allowed to go out and meet people in person, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to use this time to build and strengthen your professional relationships remotely. Spend some time using social networking sites like LinkedIn to meet with and get to know other like-minded professionals who may prove to be very useful for you and your business in the future. Bear in mind that many self-employed people and business owners are struggling for work in this time of uncertainty, so you will be able to find professionals ready and waiting to help you with several aspects of your business, whether you need somebody to conduct a marketing audit, produce content for your brand or help you define your target market.
Promote Your Business:
The more you promote your business, the easier it’s going to be to find paying customers or clients once you launch it. Use this time to get people excited about your upcoming business launch and provide them with something to look forward to in the future; most people are looking for something to get excited about these days as they’re sat at home wondering when life is going to get back to normal! Along with using social media, come up with some creative ways to promote your upcoming brand. You could use offline methods such as placing posters in your window or in your car to catch the attention of passers-by or run an online competition to help raise awareness of your upcoming brand. Be sure to set a launch date so that your prospective clients or customers know when to expect your brand to be open for business. If you’re selling products, you might want to consider offering the option for customers to pre-order them.
If you’ve been thinking of starting your own business for a while but simply haven’t had the time, the COVID-19 lockdown could be just what you need to get all the preparation done and have your brand ready for launch once it’s over.