14.6.2021

Pandemic Proof Business Ideas

Written by Aine Hendron

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If you thought mid-lockdown was a bad time to open your own business, think again.

While the pandemic has caused massive disruptions in many industries, others are flourishing under the restrictions. Here are six pandemic-proof business ideas, which are also strong contenders for when life returns to normal. 

Courier services

Delivery services are growing in popularity. Whether they’re delivering food and drink, furniture, electronics or other retail goods, 77% of consumers prefer getting packages delivered to their door in 2021, rather than buying on the high street [1]. 

There can be a lot of flexibility in how you operate your courier services. You may choose to work freelance alongside multiple independent retailers, giving you more freedom to decide your own hours and have more of an input on your rates. 

Larger-scale companies such as Amazon or Hermes may offer a more competitive rate of pay and employee incentives, such as breakdown cover and discounts on fuel [2]. So, working as an independent contractor is another option. Because most companies offer zero-contract hours, it’s possible to work as a courier alongside another role. There are virtually no overhead costs other than the cost of running your vehicle - or maintaining your bicycle!

What are the benefits of becoming a courier?

  • Courier service will be needed after the pandemic too
  • Versatile - can partner with companies from numerous industries
  • Flexibility, opportunities to work extra hours are often available

Healthy pre-made meals for delivery or take out

If you’re skilled in the kitchen, creating your own healthy, pre-made meal service could be a fantastic, pandemic-proof business. There are two major trends driving the demand for this service:

  1. 48% of people report that they’ve gained weight over lockdown [3]. 

As partial-normality returns, it’s expected that people will attempt to return to their pre-pandemic weight through healthy eating. 

  1. Food delivery is at an all time high, with some food delivery services seeing up to a 70% increase in sales [4].

You can bulk buy ingredients, batch cook meals and separate into even portions for customers. You may want to create a set menu, and offer package deals so you can sell your food in bulk. Additional expenses include packaging, which can also be purchased in bulk and will likely be included in the customer price. These can be delivered directly to the customer or collected from an allocated collection point. This type of business is known as a ghost kitchen. 

Using an Order and Pay system will allow you to take orders and payment in advance of delivery or collection, and provide more accurate projections. This also allows you to create personalised communications with customers based on their order history with exclusive discounts and notifications. Your payment platform will help with preparation and organisation by allowing you to know what exactly you need to cook, in what quantities, and therefore prevent food waste and increase overall profit. 

Restaurant Take-Out 

Restaurants can benefit from providing a healthy take out menu. As many restaurants and cafes are operating on limited capacity due to COVID restrictions, offering take out provides an extra opportunity to generate revenue. Adding a take out option to your restaurant will be particularly useful as life returns to normal. When the restaurant is at full capacity and every table is full, you are limited to only serving the customers who are already seated. Offering take away means that you can still provide immediate service to customers who may not want  to wait. Another option includes implementing an online booking system and queue. You might also want to read: How to Create a Takeaway and Delivery Menu.

While using the Epos Now Takeaway System, you will receive reports showing the breakdown of your products by customer popularity, giving you a valuable insight into what exactly customers want.

What are the benefits of offering healthy take-out food?

  • High demand for product all year round, with seasonal peaks
  • Low cost and high profit
  • Restaurants who become a takeaway can increase visibility online and reach a wider variety of customers 

Online bakery

If cooking isn’t your thing, you may want to turn your hand to baking. Opening an online bakery allows you to monetize your skills and earn income from doing something you enjoy. Since many online bakeries specialise in custom birthday cakes and cupcakes, there is no need to open a physical bakery where customers would typically come in and browse. 

If you did decide to bake large batches of one delicacy at one time, a good way to maximise sales is by offering mix and match deals - like any three traybakes / cookies / brownies for £10 for example.

Managing inventory can be slightly challenging when running a bakery since there is often a large overlap of ingredients between recipes. Using the Order and Pay system allows you to input exact recipes for baked goods, which accounts for extra ‘waste’ like when dusting with flour. When you sell a product online through the Epos Now software, the exact quantities are automatically deducted from your inventory in real time, so you always know what exactly is on hand. Customise your menu with modifiers and preferences so that customers can order what they want, and add notes specifying exactly how they want it. Add allergen and dietary information, and customise items with modifiers, preferences and extras. Upsell items through extras and offer promotions with timed menus and offers, bulk discounts.

Why should I run an online bakery?

  • High demand - birthdays and special occasions happen all year round!
  • Self-managed business, no need for additional staff
  • No need for a physical location, saving money on rent and other associated costs

Online retail 

Drop-shipping 

The eCommerce industry is growing every year. In 2021, it’s worth $400 million (USD) . By 2024, it’s projected to reach $476 million [5]. Independent dropshippers are becoming increasingly popular. Even retail giants such as Amazon use this method with many of their products [6].

Dropshipping is when sellers advertise a product they do not make themselves or physically have in stock. When a customer purchases the product, the seller then orders it from a wholesaler, who sends it directly to the customer. Typically, sellers markup the price of drop-shipped items, which is how they create profit. Another benefit is that the seller doesn’t have to handle the product themselves, the manufacturer or wholesaler handles that process too.

Buy-and-sell

Buying and reselling is also another option for those interested in simply selling products for extra profit. The second-hand and vintage retail sector has grown enormously within the past few years and is expected to reach $51B globally in the next 5 years [7]. 

These online retail methods are extremely efficient as they can be completed from home. In fact, if you integrate your Shopify or online store with your retail POS system, this type of eCommerce can be completed from anywhere. You may also want to consider selling your inventory on Amazon or Ebay. 

Why should I start dropshipping?

  • Can sell unlimited types of products - clothes, electronics, cosmetics
  • Online shopping increasingly popular outside of pandemic, always necessary
  • Receive payment prior to order fulfillment
  • Never have to order or hold unnecessary stock 

Cleaning services

Cleaning and sanitization are a global priority thanks to the pandemic. Professional cleaning services are a booming industry: $46 billion dollars in 2020, and set to grow 10% by 2026[8]. Cleaning companies often charge high-premium rates despite having low startup costs, so profit margins are usually quite decent. 

The added benefit of running a professional cleaning company is that they are not limited to location. To meet the demands of the pandemic, sanitisation and cleaning services for offices, schools, retail stores and restaurants are in high demand. Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, private cleaning services were needed, and they will continue to be after the pandemic ends. 

With Epos Now’s software, it’s possible to create custom pricing and packages depending on the specifics of the cleaning job. Revenue can also be driven through custom gift vouchers. Manage inventory through the Epos system, which allows you to enter the products used, and the system will deduct these from the overall inventory. The system also integrates with your favourite apps, as well as offering a platform which accepts and counts payments, your profit can also be calculated based on product cost - giving you the most accurate numbers.

Why should I open my own cleaning business?

  • Highly requested by companies in all industries
  • Flexible, services are still required post-pandemic
  • Book clients in advance, on your time, charging your rate - integrate your POS system with a booking system and never worry about carrying around your diary again!

Automotive services

Even when restrictions were at their highest, the car and automotive industry remained open. Mechanical services are and always will be essential, increasingly so at the moment as many vehicles have not been in use for an extended period of time, and may have missed important services. 

While only a limited number of people can suddenly decide to become a full-time mechanic, there are many other opportunities available to join the automotive industry: 

  • Car wash and valet service
  • Self-service car wash

You can read more about these services at our blog, how much do car wash owners make? Manage transactions seamlessly by adopting a car wash POS system, and receive detailed reports on spending and income. Running a car wash which accepts card payments is also a great USP and makes the customer journey a lot more convenient and attractive. 

If you prefer not to get your hands dirty, there are more retail-orientated automotive services available:

  • Car accessories store
  • Car parts-distribution service

These services work similarly to dropshipping. They are best paired with an inventory focused POS system, which allows you to view stock levels remotely and re-order when necessary.

Why should I work in the automotive industry?

  • The global automotive sector to see double-digit growth in 2021 [8]
  • Many different job roles available
  • Self-managed, flexibility over pay and hours

Read our other resources about small business ideas for 2021: 

How much do small business owners make?

11 best books for starting a business

How to increase food delivery sales for your restaurant

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