It seems like we’ve traveled through an entire other universe since I posted our last blog. How ironic to think of saving the earth through responsible, low-waste party products when the idea of gathering for anything could now have you cited and fined during our COVID-19 times. Our minds turn to survival: keeping afloat physically AND financially. As in-person commerce has become virtually non-existent, small businesses that had never-before considered it are now going online for survival. What are some useful online business ideas and can you make it work, too?

It feels daunting, intimidating, risky and full of confusion, but developing at least a portion of your business to operate online just might save you right now AND in the future. And, there are ways to do it responsibly, efficiently and while keeping your sanity. What kinds of things do you need to consider if you’re moving some of your business online?

Get Set Up for Online Shopping (e-commerce)

Regardless of your current site platform (WordPress, Square, etc) one of the best online business ideas is to install an online store or cart. Facebook even allows you to do so through a business page. If you don’t have a site, Shopify is your best bet (plus, they are currently offering a 90-day free trial instead of their usual 14-day free trial). Shopify handles your hosting and payment solutions all in one place for a monthly fee. For people who don’t have any site to speak of, this is what I recommend. No matter what your service is or what you sell, there is probably some element that can currently be made available to purchase online. This could include:

  • Actual physical products you can ship for sale
  • Gift Cards
  • A Voucher for future services
  • Downloadable content
  • Something with your company’s branding that people might purchase to help support you (t-shirt, mug, calendar, etc)

For many turning to online stores right now, it’s about filling a necessity for their customers AND figuring out a way to keep afloat during these uncertain days.

Online business ideas like online shopping can help keep your business afloat
Incorporating online shopping on your site allows you to sell products and services to keep you afloat during COVID-19

If all you need is something simple and quick to put up a few products, you could conceivably get a Shopify store up in less than a week. Steady Glow Digital has been working in e-commerce for years and can help if it’s too intimidating to handle it on your own. Or, you could take the extra time you now have since you had to close your doors to use Shopify’s extensive education and support links to do it yourself. Here are some things to think about:

  • What do you want to sell?
  • How do you want to accept payments?
  • How do you want to handle shipping?
  • Will you accept returns and on what terms? (if at all)

Seeing the Importance of Being Online

Now, more than ever, it is clear that having an online presence is vital to your business’ survival. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses are struggling right now because they lack a way for people to reach or support them in a more virtual way. Even though some think of the online sphere as vast and heartless, the truth is that it is just another element, like having a mailing address or a phone number, to stay in touch with people. And, fortunate for us at this point in history, it is helping us be more creative in how we use it. Developing some clever online business ideas might just help you adapt and survive this and other potential crises.

Be Real, Be Honest

Yes, everyone is struggling right now–especially the small businesses we love. And many of us are trying to stay optimistic despite the barrage of awfulness that’s coming at us every day. So, it’s ok to let your community, customers, peers and network know that you’re struggling, too, but that you’re working to keep your business alive. You may find support in places you didn’t expect. Reach out to people using the core gold of your business: your email list. Let your supporters and customers know you’re there. Give them options and opportunities to support you, whether that be through setting up online or phone consultations, buying a product, setting up a subscription to services or deliveries or purchasing a gift card.

Reach Out and Support Others

Right now, we’re realizing how much we all really need each other. There’s nothing like being isolated in our homes to realize how much we rely on human contact! (If you haven’t had at least one day where you were going slightly crazy yet, just wait.) So be sure to show support for the businesses YOU care about. Whether that means posting about them on social media, buying their products, referring friends, family and clients to them or writing about them on your blog or emails, that supportive energy is what we need to get through this.