How to stay safe and stay working

I’d like to start by saying: for those of you who put yourselves on the front lines daily, we are very thankful and the sacrifices and risks you are taking are not lost on the rest of us. And for those whose livelihood depends on physical interaction and people coming through your doors, I won’t state what’s already obvious, but this will be a trying time indeed.

Whether you have a brick and mortar business or are a service provider, this just might be the time in your career to consider bringing some (or more) of your business online.

If you have been hemming and hawing over whether to bring your physical products online and start selling, here are some points to consider:

1. Start by considering your top ten best-sellers, and selling only those: These could be a mix of low and high margin products, but essentially what brings people in your doors will also bring them to your site. Make sure they are either 1) a products that competes well on price with your competitors or 2) are unique enough that they are difficult to source elsewhere. Anything that doesn’t meet these criteria put you at risk of selling them at a loss, as keeping this inventory and the overhead to ship might not make it worth it.

2. If you want to get up and selling online quickly, with an easy user interface, then Shopify and Squarespace are great options. Although they have high monthly fees, you get a very simple interface that gets you up and running in as little as one day. The alternative would be more comprehensive software with lower monthly fees, but these have higher upfront costs (as you would likely have to hire an expert to develop the site for you). This is only a good idea for an established business who have a compelling reason to sell a large number of products online.

If you are subject matter expert (SME) in your field, now might be a good time to consider monetizing your expertise by creating courses online. But before you do, consider the following:

1. This is a tough gig. It requires enormous effort to market yourself online, in competition with possibly hundreds of other people. Before you begin, determine who is already offering what you intend to sell, and what price. The more unique and valuable your expertise, the higher price point you can look at. But if there are already plenty of other people doing what you do, you will have to do some math to figure out if this will be worth your time and money to build and market. Yes of course, this business model can scale to a world-wide audience, but people still ultimately trust other people. So you will need to build that trust by either promoting to your existing network first and growing from there, or consider offering free snippets of your course as a “try-before-you-buy” model to people who don’t know you personally (ideally a mix of both).

2. Again, there are plenty of web-based software options to build out your service. Some practical, easy to use ones are: Udemy, Teachable, Skillshare . Do your research and read about each option carefully. Sign up for the free trials to see how they work. You need to get very comfortable with the software and its features, so that you can build a course offering that is authentic and valuable.