I want to dive into the pros and cons of starting an online business during a crisis time like we are currently living in. The economy has plummeted, people are either out of work or working from home, and we aren’t allowed to go outside besides a necessary trip to the grocery store or a walk perhaps. Is this a good time to be thinking about launching a business? Allow me to specify. For now, I have no interest in starting a brick and mortar business and that would be nearly impossible during times like this. I’m talking about an ecommerce business. A business that I can run from my bed. What are the pros? What are the cons? What actions need to happen for me to launch this business during a pandemic?
When someone offers me the classic, “Do you want the good news or the bad news” question, I always take the bad news first. So here are the cons to starting a business during a pandemic. The biggest con is finding a supplier. That’s a pretty large road block seeing how I don’t even have a product designed to sell. I would need the product designed, tested, redesigned, retested, and eventually manufactured. All this needs to have a lot of attention from a supplier and/or a designer. Manufacturers aren’t exactly looking for new business during this crisis. They are more concerned in getting through this time and keeping as many of their employees with a job. A brand new hot shot with a product idea would get no attention during a quarantine. Another con would be finding sellers. Depending on the business model that you choose to go with, you are either selling to consumers or sellers or a mixture of the two. For me and my business, I would most likely have a mixture of both. Although selling to consumers would still possible, finding sellers such as retailers simply wouldn’t be possible. The best I could do would be to plant the idea in their head, but after that no further steps would be taken for the same reason that manufacturers wouldn’t work with you. Non-essential business are closed and even if they are open behind the curtain, they are just trying to get by without laying their employees off. New ventures are very low on their lists of priorities. Another con would be shipping. Let’s say I already had progress in the first two cons and I had things in place. Shipping would be a nightmare. Not for me, but for customers and their experience. Shipping is currently slower than it’s ever been and with higher prices. The prices would get pushed to the customers, but it would still mean the packages are showing up much later than they would normally, resulting in unhappy customers. For this reason, high shipping costs and long lead times makes another con. Keep in mind this shipping drawback applies for both external as well as internal, meaning it would be difficult and costly to get more supply to you or wherever you store the finished product. Ok, that’s enough of being a Gloomy Gus. Let’s get to the pros.
The pros here are simple to me. There obviously is nothing you can really do from a product standpoint as I already stressed that enough above. However, there is plenty to do from a content standpoint. One of the biggest turnoffs a customer gets when browsing products online is a bad website. A website is basically your salesman. Through its design, layout, and even colors, it can portray the product in a specific way. If you have a lousy website, your chances of selling are zero. Besides layout, you can work on content of your site. In other words you can take advantage of blogging or posting to your website to increase clicks and provide more interesting material that will convince your customers to buy. Content and layout are huge for an online business. You have to build trust with your customers. Content is one of the best way to do that and having the right layout shows that you’re professional and not an amateur. Obviously you won’t be able to go outside to take videos or pictures. This would actually fall under the cons category. However, you have lots of time to come up with new ideas for your business. Whether it is a product development or business strategy, this time stuck inside is a great way to think about these things. During normal life of non-quarantining and free range humans, entrepreneurs of ecommerce businesses are so cooped up with the day to day operations of the business that they don’t have the brain power or time to start thinking of a larger strategy. This time can be used to really develop your ideas of the business or product. Sharpen your thoughts on the business and make them ready for when things get back to normal. Do some drawings, think of customers, write some blogs, and get rid of the clunkiness of your website. There is plenty to do even though there aren’t any products flowing. Customers’ first interaction is often your website and can likely base their decision to buy from looking at the content and design of what they see. Allow yourself time to think. Shut off everything around you and let yourself to be bored at times. You never know what you may come up with. There it is. There are plenty of pros and cons here. Although if you’re looking for my suggestion, I don’t think launching an online business right during a worldwide pandemic is a good idea. However, I think starting to start a business right now is a great idea. Launching will come later, but starting to build the skeleton of the business is essential and there is no better time than right now. Chances are you have more time now to start designing, blogging, posting, and strategizing. So, use this time to do so. This is such an extremely unique event that we’re going through. Don’t waste this time. You need to get the right things in place to be ready for when the product comes flowing. Take advantage of this time and build that found