Small Businesses, Digitisation and the Revival of the Great Indian Economy

Advancements in digital media in 2021 will be shaping entrepreneurship and innovation for the decade to come

Small Businesses, Digitisation and the Revival of the Great Indian Economy
Small Businesses, Digitisation and the Revival of the Great Indian Economy
Markand Adhikari - 24 May 2021

The weeks and months following the outbreak of Covid-19 last year have changed the world forever. However, a year later, we are still evolving, learning and adapting. Although times have been stressful, yet it has been a phase when businesses and entrepreneurs have come together to show incredible determination and innovation. And this is especially true for the small business community.

Start-ups and small businesses were among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, in the face of this adversity, they demonstrated the utmost resilience. Digitisation has made small businesses in small cities and towns realise how smoothly they can reach customers elsewhere in the country.

For instance, Ahmedabad-based myBageecha, is a small business that sells a range of gardening products and services. They promoted themselves on Instagram and built a passionate community of plant lovers. The brand also leveraged social media to reach out to prospective customers across India and recorded 3x growth in sales.

How Entrepreneurs will Help Revive the Economy

India has a burgeoning internet population, a flourishing start-up ecosystem and robust entrepreneurial zeal, which is further being fuelled by digital media. This is expected to result in some exciting trends and innovative, scalable ideas. A vivid example here is that of White Hat Jr. The brand grew into a $300 million worth company in a span of 18 months by leveraging digital media, and paid campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. With more businesses moving online, they will require stronger support and skills to ramp up their operations.

The year 2021 is also witnessing a greater focus being directed towards virtual and mobile-led experiences. These are being powered by video, AR, and messaging, which are playing a massive role in engaging consumers and increasing sales. In addition, a stronger community among small businesses is developing gradually as many SMBs are stepping forward to lift each other up.

Digital media has made it rather simple to set up and scale businesses as well as overcome social hurdles. As a result, a rather new wave of home entrepreneurs and businesses helmed by women are likely to emerge, leveraging the reach, flexibility and convenience of digital media. Such small businesses form 30 percent of the country’s GDP and hence, their revival is critical for the economic revival of India. As digital media continues to make waves across various industries, we know that a large part of the economic recovery of India will happen with its support.

Even e-commerce is expected to witness a second wave of widespread adoption. As per a report by Forbes, people are spending double the amount of time online than ever before, leading to a 50-70 per cent surge in internet usage. As consumers observe social distancing, businesses have seen a boom in digital transactions. They are, thus, revamping their models to find different ways of reaching their customers.

India is expected to undergo further cycles of technology-adoption in the times to come as more entrepreneurs will set up ventures on e-commerce platforms, with a primary focus on direct-to-consumer approach for selling online. This rapid and widespread adoption of digitisation is what will transform small businesses, making them more competitive and resilient in the near future.

Venturing into New Verticals

Going forward, small business’ planning and savings for the future will be the key to economic recovery. Entrepreneurs need to be able to learn how to shore up their savings so that they can stay afloat in times of financial distress and emergencies. Towards this end, many small businesses are carrying out quarterly financial health checks, which is helping them meet their growth targets and optimise their existing working capital.

Unique, out-of-the-box ideas and exploring niche and untapped sectors will be the next step for emerging entrepreneurs and small-sized businesses. As per a recent study conducted by NASSCOM, about three-fourths of B2B start-ups are creating new products and trying new verticals. In the ‘new normal’, several small businesses are pivoting themselves into newer arenas such as technology services, fintech, education, healthcare and more. The pandemic has made many small businesses realize that adding new verticals is crucial to help sustain operations in the long run.

New-age technologies like AI, AR, and VR are being adopted by mainstream businesses and customers. But it will be the small businesses and entrepreneurs that will drive their mass adoption. As against big companies having to test new technologies before adopting them, SMBs can implement them right away. The quality of being agile and adaptive lends small businesses a competitive edge.

Summing Up

Entrepreneurs and small businesses are essential contributors to the nation’s GDP and their revival and recovery is critical for India’s economic progress. A massive digital acceleration will play a large part in this process. Thus, there is no doubt that the year 2021 will not just be a time when we bounce back from the after-effects of the pandemic, but will also be largely shaping entrepreneurship and innovation in the coming decade.

The author is Chairman & MD, Sri Adhikari Brothers (Sab Group)

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are the author's own, and Outlook Money does not necessarily subscribe to them. Outlook Money shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.

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