How COVID Proved That Businesses Can Thrive Online And What You Need To Consider For Your New Business

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Have you been thinking about starting a business and don’t know if this is the right time? 

Despite the hard economic times, it is time to keep on pressing forward. If anything, COVID has taught us that we are resilient, or at least we have to be. Now is the right time to actualize that business idea that you have been sitting on for the past months if not years. One thing you need to figure out is how you are going to have an online presence.

Think about it, many businesses were shaken last year by the impacts of COVID, following the restrictions on movements and social distancing. Those businesses that shifted quickly to build their online presence continued to grow. 

If you have been thinking about starting a business, you have probably done your homework on things to consider before starting a business. After analyzing your business idea, target market competition, and the legal requirements for the business you want to start, the next thing you need to consider is how to leverage the internet. Below, we dive into several businesses across the economy to show you just how starting a business in Kenya online can be fruitful.

  1. Agriculture

Farmers are turning to the internet to connect with buyers and vice versa. To date, there are many platforms such as Mkulima Young, M-Farm, Farmlink, and Wefarm, that provide a connection between buyers and sellers. Corporate institutions also recognize the power of connection in the agricultural space. Firms like Twiga Foods partnered with Jumia to distribute groceries to consumers post Covid. While there are many other grocery delivery companies in Kenya, the move by giants such as Twiga goes to show the power of the internet in reaching more customers through the internet. 

  1. Trade/ Commerce

While e-commerce in Kenya might not be as powerful compared to the developed world, all signs point to a positive growth trajectory. According to a research paper by Statista on the Digital Market Outlook, the user penetration is projected to grow by up to 34.6% in 2021 and is expected to hit 53.6% by 2025. The revenue in the eCommerce market is projected to reach $1,509M this year with average revenue of $79.27 per user.

If your business idea involves trading in electronics, DIY tools, pharmaceuticals, education, furniture or household products, and cosmetic or personal care products, then it is time to get it going. Data from UNCTAD shows that there are projections that trade in these commodities will continue to be the biggest gainers in the e-commerce space.

  1. Entertainment

From churches offering sermons online to DJs doing live performances through social media, there is no doubt that the internet plays a critical role in connecting people. Take for instance our Kenyan comedians such as Njugush or Prof Hamo who continued to entertain us through social media. Even beyond borders, our very own Elsa Majimbo went on to win the E-Entertainment People Choice Award in 2020. In the same spirit, media personalities such as MC Jessy and Kalekye Mumo are building their brands even stronger through online platforms. 

  1. Service industry and tourism

For most, starting a business in the service industry post-COVID might seem like a gamble. And looking at how things quickly changed during 2020, taking this conservative approach is justified. But as they say, bad days build better days. Thanks to the internet, you can spend fewer days worrying about where your customers will come from and more days connecting with clients on social media and building relationships, being educative, and responding to those customer queries and orders.

  1. Education

No doubt we have seen innovation through e-learning platforms in Kenya. Some of the leading platforms such as i-learn, Dawati, Kytabu, and M-Shule are leading the way in taking learning online. Besides e-learning platforms, online training materials are now easily available through multiple channels such as YouTube. If your business idea revolves around sharing knowledge, going above the brick and mortar setting ensures that you reach an unlimited audience across the world. 

  1. Telecommunication and banking

Business Daily published mid-October 2020 data from the Communication Authority of Kenya showing 8,724 more company websites registered in 2020 compared to 2019. Similarly, over the second and third quarters of 2020, the demand for laptops, desktops, tablets went up significantly. With more people moving to remote working and learning, the demand for reliable internet connection is set to continue to grow.

  1. Property

It would not be wrong to say that things revolve around the internet these days. Whether you are looking for a house in and around Nairobi, you may be looking for a solution online. Platforms such as Jiji.co.ke that connect people with property, vehicles among other products have gained a lot of growth in Kenya. These platforms not only make it easier for consumers to find anything they want in the country but also allow endless enterprises to reach customers. 

If you are considering starting a business right now, it is important to keep these things in mind:

  • What is that consumers need right now

Consumer habits keep shifting. Covid -19 was a true indicator of how the market can change drastically. For example, with remote working becoming the norm, there are already indicators of decline yields in commercial offices, reduced occupancy rates, and foreign investments. This not only affects the real estate players but also service providers such as cleaners, printing, and meal providers in office premises. 

  • Have a good digital marketing strategy

From what we have learned so far, it is important to have a plan for your digital marketing as this can prove to help businesses during uncertain times. It is time to consider digital channels as a key source of traffic for clients for your business.

  • Leverage the power of social media

At the core of social media, is the ability to connect with your audience. Beyond keeping your audience with your offers and events, it is important to use social media to engage with your customers. Importantly, get them excited about your brand, and also learn about your competition so that you can always stay above the curve.

  • Be Flexible

While it is important to have a plan as an entrepreneur, being flexible in the face of change can be a make or break for any venture. Being flexible as an entrepreneur can actually provide you with a competitive edge over your competition. 

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