It has been a year! Since March 2020, the world went into lockdown and businesses shut down shops and pulled on face masks. After almost 10 months, here are a few business lessons from COVID that every entrepreneur needs to keep in mind for 2021.
Because the pandemic is not over just yet.
5 business lessons from COVID for every entrepreneur
COVID changed buyer behaviour, business plans, growth and marketing goals, and pushed entrepreneurs to think completely digital.
It was a wake-up call, of sorts. So, what can entrepreneurs take away from the pandemic?
#1 E-commerce is the future – COVID or no COVID
According to a report by IBEF, Indian e-commerce is set to grow to USD 200 billion by 2026. Small businesses that had to shut shop during lockdown looked for alternatives online. This led to a surge in e-commerce registrations.
“Selling online is not just about e-commerce. An online presence also influences buyer decisions.” – Sharleen D’sOuza, Bloomberg quint
Here are 3 e-commerce business lessons from COVID
a) Start small – choose a social media channel – it is FREE! Selling on social media does not require followers, just strategy. If you need a little inspiration to get started, download our free ebook on selling on social media.
b) Do not spend big bucks on a website. Set up an online store that guides you every step of the way. For example – we offer tutorials, guides, and support articles for any business looking to create a premium online store. No coding, no designer assistance needed. If you are starting an online business from scratch, an online store with a reliable payment gateway in India is a good place to start.
c) Over 79% of your buyer’s shop from a smartphone. Therefore, opt for an e-commerce interface that comes with an app. For example – if you sell on our online store, you can track payments, orders, and shipping from the Instamojo android app, on the go!
#2 – You can run your business from home
If you ever worried about spending money on an office rental space, COVID proved that you do not need to run a business out of one. If your business employs other people, make sure communication channels are transparent. Thankfully, many tech giants stepped up to provide online tools to automate tasks and hold meetings.
Related Read: The ultimate small business toolkit for a pandemic
For example – Ever since lockdown commenced, Zoom Vs Google Meets have seen a 70% hike in usage from individuals and businesses alike. Team managers have kept track of daily and weekly tasks using Trello and Slack. Accounting companies like Profitbooks made inventory management easier for businesses. You can file GST in ClearTax or MastersIndia’s website. You can collect customer leads, online payments using Instamojo, allowing entrepreneurs to run an entire company from home.
#3 – It’s always a good time to grow your business
COVID might have stalled business operations, but not growth prospects. Several small businesses switching online was step 1 to growth in 2020. Next, was upskilling!
Entrepreneurs need to stay ahead of the game without compromising on daily business goals. How do you do that? Pick up an online course. While schools took to online classrooms, entrepreneurs switched to learn something new too.
For example – A business lesson from COVID every entrepreneur can agree upon is – no business plan is final. The pandemic forced several businesses to ‘pivot’ and erase the whiteboard. For small businesses that are not familiar with how to do so, our new online course on mojoVersity specifically addresses this issue. Take a look and sign up for FREE entrepreneurial courses on mojoVersity – exclusively made for the MSME entrepreneur.
#4 – Keep things liquid
This is not the end of the COVID wave. A lot of small businesses did not come prepared for the onslaught of a lockdown. The main reason was not the lack of orders or customers – it was poor cash flow management. Orders went unpaid and layoffs were aplenty.
Therefore, keep cash in hand. Separate your personal and business finances and do not upscale on plant and machinery. Reduce capital expenditure. Pay taxes on time and keep a good credit score to avail Government schemes and incentives. Do not apply for large loans at huge interest when the future is uncertain.
#5 – Pay attention to tier 2 and tier 3 buyers
E-commerce sales spiked by 59% during the festive season – and guess where most of the orders came from? Tier-II and Tier III towns! After India’s workforce moved back to hometowns and remote work became the norm, online shopping from these parts of the country began to rise.
Bonus – Check Government services during an emergency
The Government of India introduced a bunch of emergency credit schemes and loans to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. Here are a few business lessons entrepreneurs could keep in mind when it comes to the Government –
Consider selling on the Government e-marketplace
The ‘amazon of the Government’ signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Union Bank of India to facilitate a cashless, paperless and transparent payment system for an array of services from October 2019. Since COVID, GeM sought after businesses and suppliers making medical equipment, furniture and other necessary items.
In order to facilitate procurement & transportation of medical and other essential supplies for #COVID19 operations, Dept. of Expenditure has issued guidelines for relaxations for @Pharmadept, @MoHFW_INDIA, @TexMinIndia, Dept of Consumer Affairs, and @MoCA_GoI. #IndiaFightsCorona pic.twitter.com/gUvTqfYAys
— NSitharamanOffice (@nsitharamanoffc) March 30, 2020
Check for Government-approved delivery services.
Small businesses suffered when lockdown began as a lot of products got stuck in delivery. Warehouses piled up, leading to a shutdown in operations. Thilak Desingh, an entrepreneur selling used books, turned to India Post to handle his lockdown orders – and it worked!
2020 has been a roller coaster ride for businesses. For every entrepreneur, eCommerce is the new normal. Switch to digital marketing, online sales tracking, accounting and automation.
We wish you a super successful 2021!