I’ve been getting a lot of questions about whether NOW is a good time to launch a new business or product line during Covid-19.
The answer is, it depends. Today, I’ll walk you through some question prompts to help you figure that out.
I understand your hesitation. You don’t want to come off as being insensitive when so many people are just trying to survive through the pandemic. Or you might be thinking about it from an economical standpoint: no one is buying anything right now, so maybe you should just wait until things get better.
What I’ve actually found is that there are more people shopping online than ever before despite lost jobs and the economy not doing so well.
Social media use has gone up, people are spending more time at home and browsing the internet. Lots of people are bored, they can’t do the things they normally do like go out with friends or go hiking because of social distancing.
With all this time on their hands, people are turning to online shopping, not just for fun, but also for comfort and as a way to relieve stress. I’ve actually seen that certain product categories are selling very successfully.
What's Your Product Category?
So, the first thing you want to ask yourself is, what’s your product category? Some categories are doing really amazing right now.
For example, cozy sweatpants, wall décor, and soap are all crushing it.
On the flip side, things that have little or no purpose right now like decorations for parties and travel planners are not doing so hot because obviously, social distancing. You can’t have parties and you can’t travel.
In general, with the exception of a few pitfalls I’m going to talk about next, if you’re in a product category that’s doing well, then this is a good time to launch. If you’re in a category that’s really suffering from the pandemic, this may not be the best time.
Circumstances have changed, so you have to ask yourself if your product has value to people at a time like this.
Really think about the reasons why people would buy your product and if that’s in line with people’s lifestyles right now.
Can You Afford It?
Different businesses have different cash flow needs and everyone has different resources. You want to decide whether you can afford to launch a business now and you have to assume that sales may not be what you initially projected.
Do you require employees for production or do you have to outsource to a manufacturer?
Do you need to place large orders for supplies?
If your business requires a large outflow of cash to get started and say you’ve been furloughed at your job and you don’t have much savings, then I it may be best to hold off until after the pandemic starts to peter out and you get more stability back in your life.
All of this, is of course, assuming you aren’t already locked into incurring those costs.
It's important to remember that even though some product categories are doing really great, it’s generally always hard to start a new business. The big risk right now is you might not get the same sales you expected when times were normal.
Starting a business is expensive, so you need to be prepared for that, and I advise against spending all your savings on this or as a last hurrah for making things work.
Business is risky and volatile so I recommend other options for making money if you’re tight on cash right now. I have a video that talks about how you can work from home and online in this video here.
Can You Actually Do Well?
The third question you want to ask yourself, and really honestly ask yourself is, can you actually do well? Can you realistically implement a business launch right now?
One of the worst things you can do, in my opinion, is launch a business and then give your first few customers a poor experience with your site or your product or your customer service.
If you don’t have a lot of working hours right now because you’re homeschooling or maybe you can’t get all of your supplies that you need to make all the products you need in your initial product line, it may be best to hold off.
If you deliver a sub-par item or service on the first purchase, that customer is probably never coming back or worse, they might say bad things about you to their friends.
Word of mouth is very powerful and it definitely goes both ways. That would be such a waste, and all because you launched prematurely!
If you’ve watched my videos or if you know me, you know I’ll say that it’s very important to launch even when you don’t feel ready.
Things don’t have to be perfect. What’s more important is that you put your work out there for people to see.
I know as creatives, we like to wait until everything’s perfect and all our ducks are in a row before we do anything. Part of that comes from perfectionistic tendencies and also from the fear of being rejected – we don’t want people to say our stuff sucks.
I’m not saying, start a shop when your products are still in work-in-progress stage. You don’t want to ship products to customers only to have them break in the first use. There’s definitely a balance here, but generally speaking you should launch when you can deliver on all fronts.
Is Your Product Line Idea Just a Micro-Pivot?
I talked in a video here recently about micro-pivoting and how you can do that and I share with you some ideas. Micro-pivoting is all about slightly altering your product offerings or even your marketing to meet the current needs that people have.
If you’ve been thinking of a riff off of one of your existing products that seems like it would do particularly well right now, then for sure, go for it! The businesses that are the most agile are the ones that do the best!
One example I’ve seen a few times now is from jewelry designers. I have a few jewelry designers friends who normally sell finished jewelry products, but who are also now selling craft kits for people to make their own jewelry at home.
I think that’s a great idea, and I don’t think it’s sleazy or taking advantage of the situation.
There’s a need for it, people are bored at home, they’re looking for something to do, and because you’re a creator, you can make those solutions for them.
I like to think of it as you coming from a place of service. You’re contributing to the community and overall making people’s lives just a little bit better.
Will it Affect You More or Less if you Launch and it ISN'T a Success?
The fifth thing is the ultimate question to ask yourself, if all of the other questions didn’t already help you get closer to an answer.
There are definitely pros and cons to launching right now, but there are also pros and cons for waiting.
Most creatives I’ve met have an inherent problem of waiting too long, so I always harp on taking fast action and launching as soon as you can.
When it comes to deciding whether to launch your business or product, ask yourself this final question: will it affect you more or less if you launch and it ISN’T a success than the potential benefits you stand to gain from getting those extra sales right now and establishing your business during a time when lots of businesses are pulling out of the game?
For some of you, now is a great time because you have the time. It’s a great time to take a course to learn how to do business – I have a great course called the A Sale A Day Business System – and it’s a great time to do all the set up work for building your business.
That stuff takes time.
That’s a decision only you can make and of course with me not knowing your specific situation.