The Covid-19 pandemic has brought several businesses to their downfalls. According to Dun & Bradstreet, around 95% of businesses in India had been negatively affected during the imposed national lockdown in April 2020. Over 40% of businesses were still struggling by February 2021, and the unemployment rate rose to a staggering 20.9% during the second quarter of 2020.
The world has changed drastically to cope with life in a pandemic. Unlike previous ones, we have the digital capabilities to continue to work remotely and stay connected with our loved ones. Businesses have tried to keep operations going by investing in their IT assets and many have succeeded.
However, businesses that did not or could not adopt remote technology were often left in the dust. Especially in the fields of informal labour, where 1.6 billion workers have had their livelihood affected due to the pandemic.
Businesses dealing with consumer goods had to re-examine their product mixes and focus on essential products in order to prevent losses. The logistics can be reformed as well to keep in line with the new lockdown and curfew regulations. Small businesses have especially been affected by the resultant stagnation in the economy
The Aftermath of COVID-19 on Small Businesses
Small businesses bore the brunt of the economic damage caused by Covid-19. Only 13% of startups expected growth for their businesses. Around 10 million people lost their jobs due to the covid-19 crisis.
If you, or someone you know, are part of this statistic, then do not fret. As much as the pandemic has caused serious drawbacks and economic stagnation, it is as much as an opportunity to start your own business and be your own boss.
The overall market that had initially believed the pandemic would be a short-term hurdle has now come to the conclusion that the world has been changed forever. And as a result, the way businesses are conducted has to change as well.
While the digitization of various industries continued to grow during the pandemic, traditional offline businesses were hesitant to venture into unfamiliar territory. The ones that did make the switch to online platforms to keep their businesses afloat have since reaped the advantages of cost reduction and improved competitiveness.
The lockdown gave people the time and the drive to start their own ventures, and take a shot at success. We’ve curated a list of 8 business ideas you can execute without having to break any lockdown rules.
8 Business Ideas To Start During The Lockdown
1. Consulting Firm
If you are knowledgeable and experienced in a niche field, you could perhaps work as a consultant for businesses that require your kind of expertise. The demand for consultants in the areas of business, marketing, social media, human resources, finance, leadership, and communication is constantly growing as companies seek to achieve cost-efficiency through third-party consults.
Globally, the consulting industry is growing despite the setbacks faced by most industries during the pandemic. The CAGR is set at 5% to 8% for the global consulting industry. With several businesses switching to digital operations and upgrading their technological assets, they often look for expert guidance to help understand and implement such changes.
As a startup consulting firm, you can form a small team of consultants or be an independent consultant. A few areas you can offer your services in are logistics, human resources, small business counselling, internet strategies, accounting, and legal.
The benefit of venturing into dropshipping is not having to worry about warehousing. Dropshipping allows you to sell products to the customers through an online store on behalf of the suppliers. You become the middleman, helping consumers find the right products from the right sources.
Your responsibilities will largely involve promoting the products and attracting customers to the manufacturer or wholesaler. The key skills required under this venture are an in-depth understanding of logistics as well as building and maintaining a functional e-commerce website. These will play a key role in ensuring timely deliveries and a steady flow of orders.
3. Digital Marketing Agency
As companies realise the value of their online brand presence, the demand for dedicated social media and digital marketing teams have grown. In India alone, the digital advertising industry is estimated to be worth 539 billion rupees by 2024.
As a digital marketer, you can easily earn profits as you use your expertise in content strategy, social media, SEO services, paid and targeted advertising, analytics, web design, consulting and more to provide your clients with exactly what they need. Similar to the consulting agency, you can advise companies on how to portray their brand online in the most effective manner.
You may need to initially invest in software that can help you provide the best work possible, but there are also ones that are free for use or trial accounts that you can take advantage of for the same. As long as you have a well-functioning PC and experience, you can build your digital marketing agency and watch it grow.
Consumers were discouraged from shopping in person as a precautionary measure during the covid-19 outbreak. However, this led to the growth in the online retail business. Forecasts state that India will have an estimated 220 million online shoppers by 2025. Online retail, better known as e-commerce, is an incredibly profitable venture if managed right.
You would require investment in your website or app for your business, delivery methods, payment methods, and promotional activities to help get your business noticed by consumers. E-commerce can involve the sale of anything from clothing to subscription-based goodies.
Establish a unique selling point (USP) for your products so it is easier to sell and give you a competitive edge.
5. E-Learning Platforms
India is the second-largest market for the E-learning industry. Schools and colleges continue to take classes online to prevent the spread of covid-19. Indian students who were reliant on attending tuition can no longer avail themselves of the traditional tuition centres.
E-learning has stepped in to fill in the educational gaps.
With E-learning, the set-up can be as simple as advertising your expertise and classes on freelance websites like Vedantu, TutorVista, and Tutor.com. You can there use your knowledge about your favourite or preferred subjects to teach to students through online classes. Your main investments would be a PC with a webcam or a smartphone with a camera.
6. Food Services
During the covid-19 outbreak, people often had trouble making meals at home. Entrepreneurs with a passion for cooking saw this as an opportunity to start their own meal services. You can cook whole meals and have them delivered to people in the neighbouring areas. Expand your business as you rake in profits.
Your initial investments will be for raw ingredients, packaging, and hiring skilled professionals such as chefs, helpers, and delivery persons.
You can advertise online through WhatsApp and Facebook, or through food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy.
There is an especially high demand for healthy and nutritional food as people begin to prioritize their health during the pandemic.
7. Fitness Trainer
People have developed a more sedentary lifestyle as a result of the limited movements allowed during the pandemic. Gyms and fitness centres have also faced a lot of downtime due to the risks they pose as COVID-19 hotspots. In order to stay fit and healthy, individuals have switched to online means of fitness.
This includes YouTube workout videos and personal trainers who take classes online. If you have a passion and knowledge when it comes to meeting the various fitness goals of individuals, you can take group classes or personal training classes for your clients. They can register online through a simple form. The classes can be taken through Zoom or similar platforms.
8. Commissioned Art
Several artists suffered losses as they could no longer access the traditional art shows and events where they sold their work during the pandemic. They’ve since adapted the booming online platforms like Instagram where they can showcase their skills and sell their artwork. Each artist has a unique style and medium that appeals to different consumers.
If you have such creative skills, then perhaps create a portfolio and share it online to attract interest. You can sell your original pieces, or take commission where clients specify what design they expect from you. Your investment will largely go into art supplies and delivery charges.
How Small Businesses Have Adapted to Life in a Pandemic
The Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector in India contributes 29% to the GDP through domestic and international trades. They were also one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic as they did not have enough collateral to bear such huge losses. Yet, several small businesses have adapted to the changing landscape and survived the turmoil that wiped out many of their competitors.
1. Northland India
Ishan Soni is a small businessman in Delhi. He runs Northland India, a gift store that caters to the interests of millennials. Ishan had to keep his business shut in March as per the covid-19 lockdown guidelines. Like several other traditional offline businesses, he faced a period of zero-sale.
Even after phases of Unlock had passed, Northland India only received about 25% in footfalls compared to the pre-lockdown levels. During a time when people were focused on stocking essential goods and gifts at the bottom of people’s purchase lists, Ishan and his team had to come up with a plan to recover their lost sales.
As a result, Northland India began to sell their original products online through Amazon. The brand received orders from all over India. This single business decision drastically improved their business overnight. The combination of local offline sales and pan-India online sales has helped the business prosper and grow during these uncertain times.
2. Perfect Power Solutions
Mohammed Siddiq runs a retail outlet called Perfect Power Solutions. The business supplies inverter batteries. During the pre-pandemic time, these products had a limited demand. However, due to the huge energy demands caused by factors related to the covid-19 outbreak, the batteries had a rise in demand as emergencies arose in tandem.
Siddiq was in a dilemma. His shop had to remain closed as per the lockdown guidelines, but there were also people depending on his supply. Eventually, his friend provided him with a solution: to sell through a platform like Amazon. He, like many offline traders, was hesitant at first as he did not understand the benefits that selling products online would yield.
Perfect Power Solutions began selling its products online. Almost immediately, the business has made incredible profits and grew exponentially. It had 5 orders daily for 30 days straight. The retail store now caters to a diverse group of customers. Platforms like Amazon also provide various discounts to customers, making them more appealing to buyers.
Thrift stores began popping up in the midst of the pandemic. School and college students understood the importance of reusable and recycled clothes during the age of fast fashion. They also identified the growing need among consumers as the effects of the fashion industry like environmental impact, labour rights violations, and poor working conditions came to light.
Arunima Gupta initially started upcycling her clothes through YouTube tutorials during her time in the lockdown. In September 2020, she launched her Instagram store page: flippitt.in. She sells remodelled clothes that were pre-owned, a manufacturing surplus, or rejects.
By giving new life to these garments, Flippitt.in provides consumers with a guilt-free shopping experience. She offers them at affordable rates and delivers across India. The online platform she has chosen is a popular and easily accessible one, attracting a large number of customers.
The covid-19 pandemic had brought the whole world to a standstill and put many people out of a job. As much as it may have been an end in some form, it can also be the beginning of a new venture. We hope you were able to learn something valuable from this quick read.