As I sit here sipping on my cup of coffee at 1 am in the Kingdom of Bahrain, one cant help but to reflect on the recent and concurrent events that have swept across the Middle East, and more importantly what sort of impact this has on business and the economy.
It is obviously a fact that a tough political climate only leads to a tough economic client as well. Recently we have experienced a drop in consumer spending due to a simple fact that people are not in the “mood” to actually go out, have fun and spend money on the activities they would normally participate in during normal times.
Moreover, the touristic industry has been effected with a obvious drop in the number of tourists coming to the Kingdom of Bahrain, due to current de-stability. The hotel industry has seen a massive drop in occupancy rates which currently sits at around 25% vs the expected 75% for this month.
A recent conversation with a certain automobile company in Bahrain, had revealed that they are currently sitting at 25% of their monthly break even point, and if this continues for the next month, they may end up not making a profit this year.
The other element which has now come into play has been the boycott of certain businesses by opposing political factions due to the perceived stance that business owners take in the events.
What really surprises me though, is that business have continued to follow similar strategies and plans that they had conceived in the beginning of their financial year when times were good. Lets face, a business should be dynamic and flexible enough in order to adapt to different environments. For example, with a 25% hotel occupancy rate, how about implementing contribution pricing, and providing substantial discounts in order to encourage the local market to to participate in the absence of the touristic market?
Websites such as groupon.com publish daily discounts across the globe even in good economic clients. This is because businesses need to always encourage consumers to use their services, and more over, to get them to try their services and to remind them of their existence.
So what does all this have to do with online business?
The one good thing that has come out of all the events in the Middle East is that the general public has now become much more e-conscience. Social Media has played a huge role in the political events, and has been the driving force behind all the revolts that we have been experiencing.
In the Kingdom of Bahrain, twitter and facebook usage has grown at an exponantioal rate, as everyone has relied on public media in order to get the latest updates on current events, share ideas and opinions. In fact, most of the news from countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Oman has been distributed via social media channels such as twitter and youtube. As people rely less on mainstream tv due to a lack of trust, they have all resorted to providing their own media coverage by recording events first hand as they occur.
What this ultimately means, is that once the events have come to an end, and once stability returns to the region, the online market is now a much bigger marketplace then what it was a month ago, which presents even greater opportunities for masses of wealth to be made online in the form of new e-millionairs. Those who adapt to the new marketplace earlier, are more likely to succeed.
I must admit that i have been overwhelmingly impressed by the amount of videos, blogs, websites, social media channels and accounts, photography and graphic design that these countries have produced.
Bahrain has become a nation of e-marketers even though currently they are currently not doing it for money.
Why else is online business so important today?
If there is one lesson that we have learnt from the events that have occured over the last month, its that you cant rely solely on a single market, you just never know when that market is going to be impacted in a negative way.
A succesful online business can not only be recession proof (as proved in the US and Europe) but can also be political proof.
By providing products and services to the global market via online channels, your market becomes the global market. This means that no events in a single country will dramatically impact your business. If a certain country is going through political instability, you still have the rest of the world to trade with.
Huge news for Bahrain – Paypal is now here!
Today, we received huge news, that would make this process a ever more reality for the residents of Bahrain. Paypal.com now allows Bahraini residents to sell products online and receive payments. This means unlike the past, where you had to rely on traditional merchants such as credimax, which required you to be a registered business, individuals can now get their slice of online wealth, with no barriers to entry.
There hasn’t been any other time which could stress this point enough then the current days. Start thinking about building a global online business. Your business will not be effected by boycotts, or by consumer spending in your home country.