The global pandemic hasn’t been a change agent but it has accelerated already existing trends. So what are these trends and what threats and opportunities can online solo entrepreneurs see in them?
Opportunity #1: Digitizing everything!
Lots of businesses have closed down, never to return. A lot of that industry and commerce has gone online, and this is great news for online entrepreneurs.
SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses will continue to be a great trend with their monthly recurring revenue. So if this trend of moving online is going to continue and accelerate, what can you put online that isn’t there already?
Opportunity #2: Work from home
The pandemic has caused a lot of people to work at home and so the trend of having office space in our homes is going to continue.
I’ve been working from home (and in cafes and co-working spaces) for the last 15 years. But for a lot of people this is a very new thing. What can we do to help them?
Opportunity #3: Freelancing
There’s been job restructuring in a lot of companies around the world, which means there’ll be more freelancing opportunities. Freelance work is swapping hours for dollars, not passive, and unscalable. However, there’s no harm in doing freelance work – either on the side or as your main income earner.
Salaried jobs are in decline. Can we build more platforms for freelancers? Are there gaps in the market that are not being filled at the moment by big platforms like Upwork?
Opportunity #4: Online teaching
There’s been a huge great change in education. Further education is now ridiculously expensive and expect to see student numbers decline. But, all sorts of training is now online. The growth in online learning has already been amazing, and it’s going to continue apace.
This is good news for those of us who already are teaching online, making videos and creating audiences. Why not reinvent yourself now? Become an online educator!
Opportunity #5: Healing / Counselling
Societal polarisation and conflict have been increasing in the last few years and have got worse in the pandemic. Political conflicts, conflicts between science and conspiracy theories, conflicts between the religious and the secular, conflicts between counties and conflicts within countries – they all look set to get worse before they get better. Added to that the pandemic has brought about increased stress and, sadly, suicide rates are increasing all over the world – not to mention poverty.
I can see huge opportunities in personal development, healing and counselling opportunities. There will be more demand for services that can help people with their emotional, mental and spiritual state. So, if you’re a counsellor, yoga teacher, therapist, “personal development guru” (seriously!), etc., then there will be more opportunities for you online and off.
Opportunity #6: Home exercise
People are going to spend more time at home, so home exercise is going to be very important going forward. If you know ways to keep fit and healthy in restricted physical spaces then here’s an opportunity for you.
Opportunity #7: Online video communication
Staying with the working at home theme, we are moving onto Zoom and Skype calls, etc. How can you help people out there? You can teach people to present themselves and to work online better in the area of online video communication.
The world is going to be more uncertain and changeable, and therefore, creativity, pragmatism, and an ability to move with the times is going to be really important going forward.
Don’t get stuck in your ways and expect that the same way of making money will continue in the future. Becoming interested in future trends and different disciplines is going to stand you in good stead.
So there are some opportunities that I can see in the years to come (please leave more in the comments) but now I’m going to outline the threats that appear before us.
Threat #1: Economic headwinds
For a lot of people 2020 was a difficult year. However, I think 2021 is going to be worse. The economic problems that became apparent in 2020 haven’t been solved and they’ll get worse. I believe that there will be no sign of recovery by the end of 2021. That’s going to see a lot of people losing their jobs, there will be a lot of insolvencies of major companies and bankruptcies of individuals. Added to that, I think there’s going to be currency shocks, regional economic shocks, and greater conflict.
Threat #2: Making money online
Google, Facebook and Amazon have increased their monopoly power making it harder for the solo entrepreneur to compete. However, the entrepreneurial space is never 100% negative. There will always be opportunities for the creative entrepreneur to step into to markets ignored or deemed insignificant by the tech giants.
Threat #3: Geopolitical uncertainty
In times of hardship and also in times of increased inequality, I’m seeing inequality increasing next year as well, we run the risk of greater political and geopolitical issues and conflicts both internally within countries and between countries. So I can see that happening in the next few years as the depression sort of plays out itself globally.
Threat #4: Technological advances
Technological improvements are going to be very exciting and will create a lot of opportunities. However advances in AI, automation, robotics, 5G, big data, biotech, blockchain, etc., is going to cause even more people to lose their jobs. Are you doing something now that could be done by a machine in 5 or 10 years?
Challenges on the horizon …
I’ve mentioned conflicts but it’s important to remember that we still have a lot of nuclear weapons, and also, don’t forget climate change. These are threats to us even as business people and as employees.
Ray Dalio in The Changing World Order on LinkedIn posits that we are at the end of a 100 year long debt cycle. The equivalent of the economic indicators in the past was the 1930s and the early 1940s. And, as we all know, during that time there was a very deep depression and a world war!
A sobering thought. I didn’t start this blog to be pessimistic so please excuse me!
I hope this summary of threats and opportunities is helpful. Please, please, please, let me know in the comments what you think.