The year 2020 will long be synonymous with the term ‘pivot’, with companies focusing on survival instead of growth.
2020 forced companies to digitalise and make inefficient business processes redundant.
It also exposed gaps in every industries, and companies had to relook into how business has typically been done.
If you have been wondering if now is the best time to start a company, here are three reasons why 2021 will be a great year to kickstart your business.
Higher Consumption Of Online Content
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digitalization of the nation by leaps and bounds.
It has now become easier and more accessible for everyday people to start businesses such as e-commerce, virtual assistant work or coaching.
For one, e-commerce has spiked by nearly 40 per cent in the wake of Covid-19 if you are looking to start an online business.
There has also been a rise in digital talent platforms, creating a new marketplace for high-skill freelance work as the world gears towards remote working. With these digital talents, it is now easier than ever to hire freelancers for your business.
According to the Harvard Gazette, a growing ecosystem of more than 300 talent platforms has emerged as digital transformation takes place.
The consumption of online content is also higher than ever with people staying at home and working remotely. This means that businesses that operate in the online space can potentially reach more customers or talent to join them.
In fact, the number of people around the world using the internet has grown to 4.54 billion in January 2020, an increase of 7 per cent (298 million new users) compared to January 2019. Covid-19 has further pushed up internet use 70 per cent.
Furthermore, those aged 65+ are set to continue their shift online during Covid-19 as they increasingly shop online and adopt digital payments, suggesting that the Internet is not just for the younger people.
A survey of 2,000 internet users aged 16 and above found that 43 per cent of those in this age group have shopped more online since the start of the crisis, compared to 42 per cent amongst all adults.
In comparison, back in May 2019, just 16 per cent of those aged 65+ shopped online at least once a week.
Emergence Of New Opportunities
While 2020 may have killed many businesses, it has also sparked the birth of ingenious business ideas.
For example, we saw 3D printing companies using 3D technology to manufacture personal protection equipment (PPE) to meet the shortages.
3D printing has helped us see for ourselves the possibilities of the technology. Thanks to it, critical life-saving ventilators and respirators were 3D printed and supplied faster in other countries.
As a result, many companies are revisiting how products are being manufactured and some are thinking of ways to bring manufacturing back locally.
The Asia Pacific 3D printers market is set to grow by 21.4 per cent over 2020-2030 with a total addressable market cap of $58.83 billion despite the COVID-19 impact.
We also saw the creation of more plant-based options to curb food insecurity such as a plant-based egg or cell-based shrimp.
To this end, Singapore has intensified its efforts to grow the alternative protein industry in recent years, such as a US$50 million fund raised by Big Idea Ventures — backed by Temasek, Tyson Foods and Buhler — to invest in innovative startups working on alternative protein.
The government also took a major step to commit a total of S$144 million to catalyse and facilitate more investments in the agri-food space, which included priority areas such as urban agriculture and alternative proteins.
These innovative business ideas would not have materialised if it were not for the virus. While these needs existed before, there was less urgency to develop solutions for them.
If you are thinking about what solutions you wish you had, that are not currently being met, chances are there are probably others looking for the same solutions.
Therefore, 2021 might just be the best time to jump on these opportunities.
When starting a business, make sure it is specialised and targeted. Instead of capturing the entire market with a unique idea, target an underrepresented customer or industry.
Lack Of Time Is No Longer An Excuse
It is true that the pandemic has forced millions of people out of their jobs.
This presents the opportunity for us to execute that business idea we have always wanted to and start our own companies.
Remote working becoming the norm also means that we have more personal time to execute that business idea.
Therefore, there is no excuse now to say that “there is no time” when it comes to embarking on entrepreneurship.
In fact, there are a few businesses that started off as passion projects before making it big.
For example, Love, Bonito was started when its 3 founders sold clothes online to earn extra pocket money. They pooled a total of S$500 into starting the business, and the home business quickly turned into a full-fledged one.
The duo behind Vintagewknd started the brand as a passion project, and sold their carefully curated vintage pieces on Carousell.
They were juggling their full-time jobs before they took a leap of faith and launched Vintagewknd as a full-time project.
More Grants Available For S’pore Businesses
Singapore is lauded as one of the best places to start a business, and the good thing is, there are many available schemes to help new businesses gain a kickstart in the early stages.
In August, enhancements to the Startup Founder SG programme was announced by the government.
One of these enhancements is a new three-month venture building programme to help entrepreneurs build their startup.
Singaporean first-time entrepreneurs can now have access to a grant of S$50,000, up from S$30,000 previously, to help them kickstart their business ideas.
The government had also pledged an additional S$300 million to Startup Equity at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)’s Committee-of-Supply 2020.
Startup Equity was set up to catalyse more investments into Singapore-based deep-tech startups in key emerging sectors, including advanced manufacturing, pharmbio/medtech, and agri-food tech.
As part of the Startup SG Equity scheme, the government will co-invest with independent, qualified third party investors into eligible startups.
Following the MTI’s Committee of Supply 2020, the schemes will be enhanced to increase the investment cap for deep-tech startups from the current S$4 million to S$8 million and invest in selected venture capital firms that will in turn invest in deep-tech startups.
A Year Of New Beginnings
Overall, 2021 should be a year of renewal as businesses relook into their strategies and see how they can do things differently than before.
It is also a clean slate for us to reevaluate our goals and act on them, such as becoming an entrepreneur.
While 2020 may not have been the best year, you can start seizing opportunities and start your own company from 2021.