When COVID-19 triggered major economic downturns, high unemployment rates, and a collective push towards digital transformation for surviving businesses, “COVID-preneurs” pushed on with their dreams of becoming their own bosses at a record pace. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), the number of new business applications (or applications for new Employer Identification Numbers —EINs — via the IRS Form SS-4) in the US shot up by 23% from January to September of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019.
To break this down even further, the US Census Bureau reported that there were 1,559,950 new business applications submitted from July to September 2020 alone. Compared to the 859,345 new applications submitted during the same period in 2019, this 82% increase in 2020 was the largest year-over-year spike ever recorded. While these numbers might seem perplexing, there are several reasons why entrepreneurship was on the rise during the height of the pandemic — and continues to be well into 2022.
Why digital entrepreneurship.
Easy access to consumers.
According to a survey conducted by Statista Research Department in February of 2021, 46% of respondents said they spent five to six hours each day on their mobile smartphones. This data means that not only are consumers theoretically available to marketers for a significant portion of the day, but marketers are right there in consumers’ pockets. In other words, customers are more easily reachable than ever before, especially for resourceful digital entrepreneurs that can use social media and mobile-commerce (m-commerce) platforms to their advantage.
What’s more, e-commerce sales continue to increase, driving more entrepreneurs to sell their goods and services online. From April to June of 2021 alone, e-commerce sales as a whole in the US reached $222.5 billion, which was an increase of 3.3% from the first quarter of 2021. And in the projected future, m-commerce (mobile commerce) sales alone are estimated to reach beyond $432 billion, which is up from $148 billion in 2018.
Reassessing the meaning of work and life.
Remote work flexibility.
The rise in remote work flexibility during the pandemic was a stepping stone to digital entrepreneurship for many. Some people likely found that more time spent working from home allowed them to commit more time toward developing a business plan. In addition, many people who were able to work from home for the first time quickly realized it was their preferred way of working.
According to surveys from Morning Consult, 81% of employees in the US say they enjoy working remotely, 74% of remote workers say they are more productive, and more than 3 in 4 adults would rather apply for jobs that offer remote work options. Additionally, in a May 2021 survey of 1,000 US adults, 39% said they would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work. When looking at millennials and Gen Z respondents, that number was 49%.
5 things to consider first.
01. Understand consumer demand.
02. Gather funding.
03. Deal with failed developments or investments.
04. Have access to the right technology and tools.
05. Learn to be a leader.
Becoming a digital entrepreneur might be more than becoming your own boss — it also could mean developing into a business leader. This is especially true if you need to build out a team of employees (including freelancers or contractors) or collaborate with partners or investors to move forward with your plans and reach your goals.
Outside of having a specific vision and being able to articulate it to employees or stakeholders, it’s important to view your work or ideas as pieces of a larger puzzle. That is, entrepreneurial success often includes collaboration with other people. Always be open to listening to new ideas or feedback from those helping you on your journey, and stay committed to helping your employees develop and grow. It’s also important to maintain transparent communication chains with all parties involved with your business.
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