COVID-19 may be diminishing thanks to our vigilant medical and research community, but the world has irrevocably changed.
Many organizations are undergoing digital transformation faster than ever, and the pandemic is a major catalyst. Now, more than a year later, everyone is starting to adapt and adjust to the new normal, which prioritizes remote and digital experiences.
Things have changed so much that even if everyone was ready to return to normal today — and we weren’t — the shift to a traditional work environment would take time. What’s more, some workers and workplaces are not considering a turnaround. They will continue to work as is, with remote operations and digital tools remaining a priority.
Gartner’s CFO survey revealed that 74 percent of respondents plan to move employees to remote work permanently after the COVID-19 crisis is over. Big companies are also part of that demographic, as brands like Square, Facebook and others have discussed plans to keep remote opportunities accessible.
What does all this mean for small business growth? What types of opportunities can businesses expect in a post-COVID-19 world, given these changes?
5 Opportunities to Grow Your Business in a Post-Pandemic World
1. Contactless Fulfillment
Due to COVID-19, many face-to-face and in-person services have been forced to change paradigms to allow safe distance and contactless interactions. Restaurants, for example, are closing down on-site seating and dining and switching to curbside pick-up or delivery. It was a smart move, especially to minimize contact and exposure.
These are excellent business prospects going forward, even without a pandemic. The market is full of opportunities, and competition is still not as diverse as traditional channels. This means there is plenty of room for new players to enter the game and for those players to be successful and develop.
This is an opportunity to build a seamless, contactless fulfillment service that makes it easy and convenient for customers to buy remotely, either online or via mobile, and then pick up their orders with minimal exposure. Small businesses benefit greatly from this, as it reduces a lot of overhead and simplifies the customer experience.
2. E-commerce Is King
Long live the king! The king of modern business, that is — e-commerce! Giants like Amazon, Walmart, Overstock, eBay, and Alibaba may dominate the market, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for growth. In fact, businesses large and small that do not participate in the world of e-commerce may see profits shrink over time.
Thanks to the pandemic, e-commerce has had a huge boom as people shop online and receive goods at their doorstep without ever seeing another human being. Safe, convenient and faster than ever. From March 23 to March 30, 2021, e-commerce experienced a 14 percent increase in volume. It’s only one week!
This is a promising opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses to step up their digital and e-commerce game. With many shops and dining rooms still closed, there’s no reason not to.
3. Clean, Minimal Impact
Another concern on most people’s minds these days is our overall impact on the environment and surrounding communities. The tipping point has arrived, where going green is necessary for businesses to maintain trust and integrity. Nearly 70 percent of consumers believe it is important for brands to have sustainable or eco-friendly operations.
Small and medium-sized businesses are in a unique position to take advantage of this, more so than large organizations. These may not be immediately cost-effective, but overall, they can make changes faster and with more impactful results than large organizations can.
A revamping process that consumes a lot of energy, or adopting renewable energy altogether, is one way to increase sustainability. Sourcing more environmentally friendly products and components is another. Building an eco-friendly product or facility or moving the site to a more eco-friendly location can also help.
Reducing waste and making more use of recyclables is another possibility. These are all things small and medium-sized businesses can do. And it will all have a positive impact on growth, reputation and sales.
4. Smarter Service
We see many different businesses taking on new roles during the pandemic to make needed supplies like gloves, respirators and even hand sanitizer. The breweries themselves had a huge impact by using the alcohol reserves to make ointments, soaps and sanitizing gels.
This is not only commendable, but also a brilliant use of existing technology, equipment and supplies. Fortunately, these kinds of ideas can continue post-COVID-19, and rightfully so.
Waffle House, for example, started selling its waffle mixes online to recoup profits after having to close many of its restaurants. The mix sold out in just four hours . It also means they find new sales opportunities, which they can take advantage of, possibly years to come.
It is this kind of quick thinking that creates not only smart chances but also more successful chances. Every small and medium-sized business should burn the midnight oil to brainstorm and research this opportunity.
How can your business serve your community through its niche? What out-of-the-box ideas can you find to provide your services and goods? Or a completely new one?
5. Stronger Together
The business world can be cruel and competitive, and no one will argue against that. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to team up with your opponent to achieve some truly amazing things.
Some of the most competitive leading companies have banded together to create ventilators for the UK’s National Health System. Brands like Ford, McLaren, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Airbus and many others are on the rise. Even as the pandemic subsides, it presents a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on local communities and beyond.
Small businesses, in particular, can work together to develop highly creative and promising ideas that serve their customers to increase goodwill and profits. Before all these major events, a proposal like this might sound crazy. But things have changed. We, as a society, are stronger together, not apart, and this has been proven time and time again.
There’s no reason why this doesn’t present a promising and ideal growth opportunity for businesses. Partnerships expose brands to new audiences, produce higher quality or more useful products, and sometimes even help create new markets or demand for new goods or services.
Unprecedented Events Unique Response
We’ve never seen anything like it before, and we’ll likely never see it again. We may see pandemics in the future, but the way the world reacts and what is happening in the business world — massive digital transformation — is a sign of the times. But it also presents many new opportunities for businesses large and small.
With the right preparation and the right steps, small businesses can capitalize on this event by optimizing their growth and operations for the better. Contactless compliance, smarter products and services, green initiatives, and greater push for e-commerce can help.
In addition, there are some unique opportunities to partner with other businesses, including competitors, to better serve local communities.