When 2021 eventually arrives and we’re able to look back on this year in its entirety, I believe we’ll discover something interesting: that rates of business creation didn’t actually suffer much due to the broad repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s currently keeping us isolated.
It’s certainly true that many businesses have been left unable to operate and plenty of others have struggled to get used to working remotely. It’s also true that people’s priorities and investment capabilities have shifted somewhat: economies are contracting, recessions are inevitable, and those with wealth might not want to risk it with the future so unclear.
Even so, counterbalancing this is the determination of those fired, furloughed or simply bored at home to go into business for themselves. When in doubt, bet on yourself, and it’s a reasonable move despite the tough conditions because existing businesses are struggling and people are looking for new products and services.
Startups can do very well this year — but only if they do all the right things. In this post, we’re going to list a few things that every startup needs to be successful in 2020. Let’s begin:
The flexibility to operate remotely
We simply don’t know when lock down measures across the world are going to be fully lifted. It might be many months before that happens: it’s even plausible that some restrictions will remain in place indefinitely due to COVID-19 lingering. Because of this, it’s difficult to view the standard office model as particularly reliable.
Startups need to be able to operate remotely, even after they’re told they can use offices again. Not only is there no guarantee that there won’t be a resurgence in infections (and a resulting resumption of lock down), but it’s also very likely that prospective employees and clients alike will want the option of working remotely most (or all) of the time.
In truth, almost every type of business can now find some way to work remotely. E-commerce businesses don’t need their own warehouses: they can use third-party fulfilment through selling models like drop shipping or services like FBA. Modern manufacturing companies need their production facilities, but they use heavy automation with skeleton crews for maintenance, allowing designers to work mostly from afar.
The modern, digital world is built for the remote worker, as many of us doing our day-jobs from the comfort of our bedrooms are slowly realising. Project management tools have made keeping an eye on your team a digital process. Freelancers have long been able to manage their entire livelihood from a single laptop with everything from free portfolio websites to invoice templates available to help them acquire work and ensure they get paid for it respectively. These tools have lifted the need for physical office spaces and the litany of machinery and paperwork that goes with it (and holds it back).
Remote working must be a regular option. For solo operations, or for given employees of a larger business, this also means having a suitable home office environment. Bad home offices — often stemming from the wrong homes — can really damage productivity, so having the right property is essential.
A straightforward brand identity
There are so many startups on the market fighting over the same audiences that it’s hard for them to stand out — and in the internet age, product margins have been optimised so heavily (through efficient production, warehousing and marketing) that offering the lowest prices isn’t often a viable way of getting ahead.
This is why every startup needs a clear brand identity: something consistently positive that potential customers can notice and remember. You also need to consider that the proliferation of online businesses makes it trivial for shoppers to compare and contrast them, allowing them to carefully select the companies they want to support. The companies that deserve their trade.
A good startup in 2020 must show personality, have a clear set of values, and generally deserve customers more than its rivals. Sustainability is one thing that’s very important: if a startup can focus heavily on working in a sustainable way, many people will be more eager to support it.
Substantial investment in SEO
Now that almost every business is operating remotely, it’s more important than ever that a business can be found in organic search. Google’s place at the heart of the business world has reached a new peak of size and stability: when you want to find a new product or service, don’t you turn to Google as the first step (or one of the first steps, at least)?
Unable to turn to grand ribbon-cutting ceremonies at office complexes with a lot of foot-traffic, startups that don’t invest in being found through search won’t be found — and if they don’t appear prominently in Google, they might as well not exist for most people. Even good PPC work won’t save them.
SEO work takes time to pay off, so it needs to be a priority out of the gate. Polishing their websites, engaging in content marketing, hitting the right keywords, building links… it all adds up over the months and years. Combine it with the other elements we’ve looked at here (along with a solid central business idea, obviously) and you have a recipe for success.
The name of the game when it comes to startups is innovation. These may feel like contrived or obvious steps to more in-the-know entrepreneurs, but they are key to startup success for the remainder of 2020. Consider how remote working, a different take on branding and basic SEO can have an immediate impact on your business.
Title image credit: PublicDomainPictures