One of the most salient takeaways from 2020 is how recent events have helped accelerate the transition towards a more tech-infused economy. Whether it’s social media apps ascending the valuation scoreboards (e.g., Zoom) or companies forced to make the headfirst dive into the world of e-commerce, quarantines and economic hardship are reshaping the business landscape. 

The accelerationist developments are not ideal for many companies, however. 

Many brick-and-mortar retailers content with local customers are rapidly ushered into a world of digital marketing and sales funnels that they don’t understand. Add in all-time lows of Main Street confidence paired with the fastest uptick in personal savings rate history in April, and the horizon for once-prosperous small businesses looks daunting. 

Luckily, many digitally-native firms accustomed to the nuances of the convoluted e-commerce sector are aiming to help businesses make the necessary transition to the digital world. 

“It’s important now, in light of COVID-19, that any and all businesses have a strong e-commerce presence as most customers have now adapted to an online shopping mentality,” details Jaiden Vu, founder of sales consulting firm Black Peached. “If businesses can dominate e-commerce, all the while having a brick-and-mortar retail, they won’t be putting all their eggs in one basket – less exposure to their bottom line.” 

Vu’s Black Peached specializes in helping businesses and individuals take their products and services online. And their services have never been more necessary than on the back-end of a difficult first half of 2020. 

An Arduous Transition to Digital 

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy. They generate 44 percent of economic activity in the US and populate your local neighborhoods – they’re your neighbors. Many of these businesses, from basic consumer retailers to local dive bars, rely explicitly on local consumers to generate revenue. 

But this is 2020, and digital branding is everything. 

While the e-commerce market may still preclude dive bars in many ways, boutique retailers in local neighborhoods are faced with both a challenge and an opportunity. With 40 million people unemployed, consumer spending will diminish for the foreseeable future. Launching a brand amid such circumstances may sound like an insurmountable task, but it’s also an opportunity to expand an online presence into a brand that people outside of local neighborhoods invest their loyalty into. 

“The biggest barrier for most businesses looking to transition online is time and money,” says Vu. “Primarily time as most businesses consist of very small staffs and are not adept at how social media mediums work.” 

Black Peached’s goal is to help guide their clients through the process of starting a digital brand that can expand their customer base to the eccentricities of the Internet. They subsequently streamline workflows for organically growing and maintaining the brand, covering everything from ad buys to media management and marketing decisions. 

“From creating a digital presence to strategizing a full proof sales funnel, our goal is to help any business have a seamless transition to e-commerce,” continues Vu. 

But like Vu says, the cost is often the decisive factor in making the transition to e-commerce. Many struggling small businesses simply can’t add on more expenses with consumer spending down and debt from PPP loans layering additional burdens on overhead. That’s why Black Peached is targeting businesses with lower revenue streams, opening up the possibility for struggling companies to penetrate the lucrative e-commerce market. 

“We screen our customers based on the following standard metrics: $5,000/month in gross sales, at least one year in business, and sales in at least three different products,” says Vu. 

That can be a life-saving outlet for many small businesses looking to launch a brand but unsure of whether or not they can pull it off. But it also applies to another market – the growing space of independent contractors. 

A More Nimble and Independent Economy 

Independent contracting is quickly becoming a dominant trend in the new digital economy. It’s not just social media influencers either, who technically qualify as independent contractors in many regards. Contractors include writers, developers, artists, marketing specialists, and even handymen with profiles on multiple digital marketplaces. 

According to Upwork’s 2019 “Freelancing in America” report, roughly 57 million Americans freelanced at some point in 2019 – about 35 percent of the entire workforce. Now, with 40 million unemployed and conventional employment opportunities sparse, contracting may become the dominant trend of the decade. 

From Vu’s perspective, this is a trend worth capitalizing on for individuals wary of re-entering the regular workforce. 

“One of my favorite examples of work that I’m proud of is being a sales marketing mentor to over dozens of individuals who were able to transition from having no presence on social media and turning it into a lead magnet,” says Vu. “Their credibility and sales have skyrocketed based on the result alone of standing out as the expert in their field by applying my value-first branding methods.” 

Getting an individual branding lifestyle off the ground can be arduous, but the long-term opportunities can’t be ignored. 

Contracting or independent branding also affords flexibility, making the appeal of forgoing the 9-to-5 life and building your independent brand exhilarating. In the same Upwork report, 7 out of 10 freelancers cited how they would be interested in moving to an area other than a major city if the opportunities were the same. 

With a digital brand, professional talent, and firms like Black Peached on your side — that becomes a not-so-distant reality. 

“Focusing on giving their audience free value to stand out as the expert and be trusted is the goal,” says Vu. “Whether it’s a company or an individual, COVID-19 has accelerated us to the point where digital branding and sales funnels are more than an opportunity, but a necessity.” 

For companies and individuals wondering how they can ever surmount the obstacles thrown in their way in recent months, companies like Black Peached can help the transition to e-commerce and branding seem less intimidating. 

With pockets of bad news seemingly everywhere nowadays, that’s a glimmer of good fortune for the lifeblood of America. Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and can not investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the author to disclose. VIP Contributors and Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles, are professional fee-based.