It is no secret that the pandemic has — and continues to — wreak havoc on economies around the world. For businesses in the Antelope Valley, it has been no different. Local businesses have felt the impact of closures, and some experts predict that California’s small businesses will not be able to survive another shutdown. In response, many business owners have begun to explore additional streams of income, such as freelancing and diversification, in their bid to save their business.
While economic activity has stalled during the pandemic, the freelancing economy has bloomed. According to a study by Upwork, 2 million Americans have begun freelancing over the last year, while 36 percent of the labor force now perform some form of freelance work. If you want to build business resilience and weather the current storm, your best bet is to diversify or add freelancing to your business rotation.
Same Service, New Digital Channels
One way to diversify your business in crises such as the ongoing pandemic is to explore new routes for the delivery of your product or service. Diversification strategies originated with the Ansoff Matrix, and were initially regarded as an alternative growth strategy. Under the Ansoff Matrix concept, the diversification strategy was seen as a way of developing new products for new markets.
However, the matrix can also be adapted to target the emerging markets today – digital selling channels. While in-store traffic has declined, eCommerce has thrived. In fact, Covid-19 and E-Commerce, a survey performed by UNCTAD, showed that the pandemic has accelerated online shopping habits. One way to tap into this growth is to add or expand your business’ online selling channels. This includes establishing user and mobile-friendly eCommerce platforms, building on your social media accounts, and adapting your product or service for a digital market. Businesses can offer digital versions of their services (think downloadable products like e-books) and also, explore digital avenues of customer service such as Zoom consultations or interactive product displays on their website.
New Audience, New Delivery (Freelancing)
Businesses can also explore a completely new business model in a new market. Currently, the demand for independent contractors has skyrocketed as businesses realize the cost benefits and flexibility that a digital workforce can provide. With these ongoing demands, you can adapt your business (and services) to join the freelance market. To thrive as a freelancer, you must first get to know the freelancing market and decide which of your business services/products are translatable. For instance, plumbers and handymen in the Antelope Valley can join freelancing platforms like Upwork or TaskRabbit. Focus on offering specialized services like dishwasher repairs or heating installations. This exposes your business to a new market, and with the right promotion, new customers.
Businesses that choose to add freelancing to their services can also contact their existing customers. A great way to do this is to send out an email on your updated products/service packages. If you have built up a customer email database or following on social media, reach out to them and let them know you are now available for freelance jobs.
Same Product, New Audience
Another way to diversify your business during difficult times is to explore a new market. For brick and mortar businesses, this could mean focusing more on online customers and their demographics. So if you are a small business that traditionally focused on local sales in the Antelope Valley, it may be time to shift your focus to online sales and explore postal delivery options (or digital delivery options).<
Expanding your market reach means your business could have more potential customers to choose from. You can also expand your market reach by including add-ons or collaborations with fellow businesses. For instance, electrical companies can team up with local plumbers. Alternatively, local car dealerships can collaborate with local mechanics through referrals.
The ability to succeed as a business depends heavily on your business’ agility, particularly in trying times. When you explore avenues for diversification in your business, you create multiple income streams and reduce your risk of being vulnerable to market conditions. While you may not be able to control these conditions or how long they last, you can ensure your business keeps going.