Have you thought of starting your own business during the pandemic? Maybe you’ve picked up a quarantine hobby that you want to turn profitable, or want to step up your freelancing work for extra cash. You wouldn’t be alone. E-commerce sales in Canada have doubled during the pandemic, and more Canadians are cashing in on their side hustles than ever.
While side hustles are a great way to make extra cash, taking your hobby full-time requires know-how, especially in an increasingly competitive online space. We hit up Danish Yusuf, the CEO and Founder of Zensurance for advice. Here are his five tips to help you take your business to the next level.
5 Get Social Media Savvy
Having a social media presence makes it easy for people to discover your business, and it’s important that users can easily understand your brand and product from a quick scroll. Try to get the same handle across all social media platforms and create a distinct, consistent aesthetic for all content, to elevate your brand. On Instagram, you can set up a business profile, which opens up new features essential for a business owner. You’ll be able to view insights from posts and stories, to see who your audience is and what resonates with them, and will help you track growth. Instagram Shoppable Posts are also a quick way to turn browsers into buyers, as you can tag products directly in the post and link to the product page on your website. Beyond these two key features, a business profile also allows an easy way to promote posts, create sponsored ads, and connect with customers.
4 Take Advantage of Programs for Small Online Businesses
The government has been stepping in to help small businesses with loans and programs, including partnering with companies such as Google and Ritual to support small businesses. Look for loans that may be suitable for your business, such as Ontario’s Small Business Support Grant, or Google’s Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE. Bonus: Google’s DMS ShopHERE program includes free courses, marketing, and support.
3 Protect Your Business from Cyber Attacks
There’s been an uptick in cyberattacks during the pandemic, with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and top security vendors reporting that cyber-related frauds in Canada during COVID-19 have exceeded reports filed in 2019 by more than a third. When business systems are breached or hacked, you can incur costly containment and repair expenses, with the risk of lawsuits brought on by third parties. Keep accounts secure with a password manager, such as 1Password, and invest in cyber liability insurance. With Zensurance, a low limit of Cyber Liability Insurance (~ $50K) is typically included in Professional Liability Insurance policies for an additional $100 – $200/year or as a standalone policy for those storing significant amounts of sensitive data.
2 Make a Budget
With any long term plan, having a clear budget is essential. Between costs such as getting a domain name, inventory, and incorporating, startup costs alone can be thousands of dollars. It’s important to map out your priorities and determine hard costs, in order to decide early on what you are willing to splurge on. Whether it’s marketing, a website designer, or SEO work, budgeting builds the road to success.
1 Look to Digital Platforms that Serve Small Businesses
The pandemic has opened the way for companies to bring services online, helping budding entrepreneurs start their own business with as much support and as little cost as possible. Don’t be afraid to shop around, and customer support is there to help! For those who don’t know where to start, there’s Ownr, a digital platform where you can register your own business and file all legal paperwork. Shopify provides a free trial if you want to dip your toes in before taking the leap. Then as your business grows, protect it by looking for the insurance that best suits your needs with Zensurance, which uses an algorithm that finds the perfect insurance for up to 35% off the competition. The benefit to using digital platforms is that they’re always accessible, whether you’re an early bird, night owl, or can only work on your side hustle on the weekends.
About the Author
Danish Yusuf is the CEO and Founder of Zensurance, a Canadian digital insurance broker that caters to small businesses, which are often overlooked and underserved by big insurers. To date, they’ve served over 150,000 small businesses across Canada.