Navigating Choppy Waters: How to Successfully Launch an Online Startup During a Global Crisis

As far as the formation of startups goes, 2020 might go down in history as one of the most uncertain years in which to set up a new business.

However, that hasn’t stopped many historical examples of companies that have navigated the choppy waters of economic uncertainty to flourish as an online entity. In the wake of the 2008 financial crash, a string of hugely successful apps capitalised on emerging technologies to become household names in a matter of years. Endeavours such as WhatsApp, Uber, Groupon, Slack and Airbnb to name a few managed to capitalise on adversity and thrive during the difficult times.

Of course, it’s important to caveat this by noting that the devastating impact of COVID-19 has wholly eclipsed the crisis of 2008, and many entrepreneurs will be understandably concerned about setting up shop in such testing times.

On the flip side, the current environment could be a prosperous time for ambitious startups to enter the market. While the arrival of global recessions may mean that it’s harder than ever to find external funding in the form of venture capital and angel investors, there will undoubtedly be a larger pool of talent in which to choose from in order to get your endeavour off the ground.

For entrepreneurs and business owners alike, 2020 may represent an ideal opportunity to set up online operations. Perhaps as a brick and mortar shop or popup owner, you may be looking to continue optimising your sales despite social distancing measures and global lockdowns limiting the volume of customers visiting your store? With this in mind, the Coronavirus crisis may yet throw up some opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners alike. So let’s takes look at some key ways in which you can launch an online startup in the wake of a global crisis:

1. Be Honest With Yourself and Your Startup

2020 isn’t the era to be whimsical about your prospective company. Be sure to scrutinise your business model and ask some stern questions about the viability of your products and services.

Has Coronavirus affected the relevance of your product or service? Has your business idea kept its relevance since the arrival of the pandemic?

Navigating Choppy Waters: How to Successfully Launch an Online Startup During a Global Crisis

(Image: The 2Checkout Blog)

As we can see from the chart above, various industries have been affected in different ways by COVID-19. It’s imperative that you take an unbiased approach towards determining the relevancy of your product and how it will be received by your audience at the beginning of a significant recession.

The answer to these questions could help you to discover new prospective markets for your products, too. For instance, Athena Security has been known to make software that enables security cameras to detect firearms in real-time. However, now the company has adapted to sell systems that utilise thermal cameras to help detect whether an individual has a fever in real-time.

Take some time for introspection and ensure that you understand how consumer needs may have changed since the beginning of the pandemic. This isn’t the time to chase a lost ideal, but if you have a practical product that people will want to spend money on then now’s the time to pursue it.

2. Build an Online Presence That Gets Your Business Recognised

It’s never been more important to care for your company’s appearance online. Coronavirus has forced more brick and mortar shops to transition themselves into eCommerce outlets as a means of protecting their sales, which means that your business will be having to compete with more prospective competitors than ever.

While WordPress remains the industry standard for web development, it’s useful to explore your options for standing out from the crowd. If you’re trying to be unique – be unique. Avoid using generic templates and try to customise your website as much as you can. To do that, there are numerous plugins available on the market as well as a wide range of themes and scrips that can pay dividends in outperforming the thousands of lesser agile websites entering the online marketplace.

It could also be worth exploring Shopify and affiliate networks to give your products added exposure to new audiences as a foothold on your new market.

Navigating Choppy Waters: How to Successfully Launch an Online Startup During a Global Crisis

3. Keep in Frequent Contact With Your Teams Remotely

Regardless of whether your endeavour has five employees or 25, it’s important to schedule regular group meetings more frequently during a crisis. If it’s not possible to speak to all of your workers at a single time, it’s vital to have each of your departments represented.

Having regular meetings helps you to set achievable goals in the short and long term and provides your team with a greater connection to your startup. Here, workers can discuss the intricacies of your ambitions and help to collaborate on the creation of achievable timeframes for your business goals.

Having scheduled meetings in place can also work wonders in helping your teams to better collaborate while in longer periods of isolation. Without regular contact with colleagues, an employee may feel disconnected from your team and less motivated to reach out and collaborate with fellow team members.

4. Initially Focus on Survival…

All entrepreneurs would rather be at the helm of a unicorn rather than a camel. But as Harvard Business Review notes, camels are well equipped to survive some of the roughest climates on earth, and as far as Coronavirus goes, there aren’t many rougher economic landscapes to navigate.

Everybody dreams of rapid growth for their business, but in times of global crises, such utopian scenarios are simply not possible. In times of recession, people are logically much more likely to avoid parting with their money – this means that you’ll need to be wholly cash-flow sensitive and will need to focus on steady development rather than building up ahead of steam.

When setting up your business, be sure to highlight a list of expenses that could feasibly be easily cut should your revenue streams begin to dry up. Be sure to make any long-term costly financial commitments and stay braced for dry spells.

5. …But Keep Prepared for a Post-Crisis Boom

It’s vital that you acknowledge how the post-COVID climate may completely change your business model when the world enters ‘the new normal’ way of living once we’ve overcome the virus.

It may be a long time in the future before we see a complete end to social distancing in your location, but depending on the industry that you’re entering, there could be a significant boom in terms of the sales you make to consumers.

This could force you to undergo a rapid scaling process that will see you recruiting new workers or expanding into new markets. With this in mind, it could be worth creating a new business plan that’s designed to anticipate how your model could change in a post-pandemic world.

As with any endeavour, preparation and adaptability will be key to your short-term survival and long-term prosperity. Always remember to plan your next step and ensure that you can effectively downsize if the worst should occur in your industry. By following these key principles, you can ensure that your startup gives itself the time and space to scale-up when the time is right.

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Author: Dmytro Spilka

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