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Looking to the future, virtual (or online) businesses will prove more profitable

Looking to the future, virtual (or online) businesses will prove more profitable 1

By Richard Fletcher Magic Sauce Marketing

Business owners of all types have had to make some major adjustments this year. With the coronavirus pandemic causing consumers to be (understandably) more nervy in their spending habits, and lockdown restrictions preventing people from frequenting their favourite places, many businesses have had to slam on the brakes, take a good hard look at their books, or shut their doors completely.

Thankfully, government backed loans and the furlough scheme have managed to mitigate some of the damage. Still, though, there have been a great many branch and business closures, with everything from independent boutiques to big-name brands facing the chop.

But, within all of the doom and gloom, there are actually entrepreneurs coming out of all of this with increased revenue and an improved business plan. For the most part, it is businesses that operate online that are bucking the trend and proving that there is a way to forge ahead amidst all the chaos. And, looking forwards, it is again online businesses that promise to prove most profitable as the world continues to adjust to its new normal.

The fact of the matter is that people just can’t go out like they used to. Even before the country was put under lockdown, more than a quarter of consumers said they were avoiding heading to the high streets, for fear of catching coronavirus. With the virus’ devastating impact now better known, a great many people remain reserved in both how often they go out and what they go out for, even as restrictions continue to ease across the country. This has been a death knell for many businesses that rely on physical trade, most notably shops, bars and entertainment venues.

What’s important to remember, though, is that people are having to adjust to a life lived largely indoors, and with fewer social interactions. While this doesn’t sound particularly positive, there are actually plenty of ways this can be made to work in your favour if you are an entrepreneur.

In order to make the current crisis work for you, you need to start thinking about what people want or need, regardless of whether or not they can go out. An area that has experienced a particularly significant boom is fitness. During lockdown, companies running virtual fitness classes experienced an extraordinary uptick in signups. Similarly, fitness equipment that can easily be used at home such as dumbbells and yoga mats started selling out left, right and centre, as people looked for ways to keep themselves occupied and stay fit without access to the gym. While gyms are now reopening their doors, many are running at reduced capacity, and there are concerns about just how safe they are to visit. Because of this, the market has shifted, and there is still a great deal of demand for goods and services that can facilitate at-home workouts.

Fitness may not be your thing, but the point is that finding a similar niche can keep you in business no matter how the coming months pan out.

Other examples can be found in the entertainment sector which, as mentioned above, is currently in crisis. But this doesn’t mean that people no longer need entertainment. In fact, it means that many need it now more than ever, and are looking for new ways to pass the time that don’t involve leaving their home. Businesses that have done well are those which give consumers the opportunity to learn new skills, offering products, tutorials and advice. If you, too, can offer people something that is entertaining, enjoyable, and keeps them coming back for more, then you’ve hit the jackpot.

Whether you provide goods or you run a business that relies on face-to-face interaction, there are ways that you can take advantage of the online world and make the current situation work for you. Everything from home delivery to virtual meetings with clients are possible. You just have to find what makes the most sense for you and your business.

Look ahead even further, and you will see that this way of running your business promises to be far more sustainable even beyond the current period of instability. Unfortunately, there is no definitive end to the coronavirus pandemic in sight. This means that, while things may start to return to rights over the coming months, it can all be taken away again in a flash. A second wave is predicted to hit us around wintertime, and already there have been regions forced back into localised lockdowns to help contain sudden spikes in infections.

As a result, running an online business will provide some much-needed security. It means that, whether or not things get worse, you are always able to reach customers or clients. As long as you pitch your services in the right way, this will mean that you can pretty much guarantee cash flow, while physical businesses are made to stall once again. So, if you want to protect your business, staff and revenue from the immense obstacles posed by the coronavirus pandemic, look to moving as much of your business online as possible. If you don’t, you risk falling behind your competitors who have already done so, or getting caught out at every unexpected turn the economy takes.

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