Uncertainty meets Opportunity in the Metaverse

As an entrepreneur, the word metaverse signals either cautious curiosity or ambivalent anxiety. Alliteration aside, not everyone can fully grasp the notion that life can exist on the other side of new technology, experientially. And what that means in real terms, for the small business owner, requires a stretch of the imagination and a willingness to suspend, at least briefly, the dogma of classical entrepreneurship.

First, it’s important to understand what the metaverse is and what it can offer businesses. The metaverse is a boundless, digital universe that allows users to create and interact with 3D virtual worlds in real-time. It offers brave businesses opportunities to reach a wider audience, connect with customers in new ways, and create immersive experiences. However, there are some things to keep in mind before launching a business in the metaverse.

What is the metaverse? The short answer is that the metaverse is a virtual world that allows users to create and interact with customized avatars. And in this digital domain is where businesses, large and small, can get creative. Imagine taking your emerging startup to launch campaigns, create stores, and establish a presence in the metaverse like any brick-and-mortar business you find on the street.

The metaverse has essentially rebranded augmented reality into a legitimized domain where people and brands can interact as we do in the real world. Which begs the question: what is the real world? No doubt, the metaverse will challenge what we consider “real” and encourage its denizens to give credence to augmented realities.

The hype is hard to ignore. And entrepreneurs from all over are scrambling to make sense of the metaverse, how they can use it for their advantage, and thus cure their FOMO.

What should businesses consider before making a quantum leap into the metaverse?

First, you need to determine whether it’s worth the cost, time, and resources. In fact, we would even take it a step further. Does the metaverse create a better experience for my business? Will I be able to provide better solutions to my customers’ pain points? How can I weigh the risks associated with launching a business in the metaverse? These questions and how you answer them will lay the foundation for your decision-making.

The cost and time commitment.

Unless you have a very large budget and a lot of time, it’s probably not worth it to launch a business in the metaverse. It’s a huge investment and you need to be prepared to devote a lot of both time and money to make it work. Remember, this technology is new in the sense of how it will be used. If it is truly worth its hype, there is no need to rush into it. Observe, learn, and take note of how other businesses and brands use the metaverse. In particular, pay attention to what they get right. Your return on investment, following your customer journeys, should inform your decision-making.

The lack of credibility and experience.

Even if you do have the budget and the time, your business will likely struggle to gain credibility and traction. There’s just not much demand for businesses in the metaverse yet, so you’ll be competing with established brands and companies that understand the space better than you.

The risk of launching a business.

Launching a business, regardless of the domain, is still launching a business. And, as we all know, it’s not easy to be an entrepreneur. Unless you have already validated your business, by already running a sustainable business, you’re taking on unnecessary risk just for the sake of having a presence in the metaverse.

There are a lot of unknowns and uncertainties surrounding this technology, and you could easily waste resources if you don’t pivot with purpose. Always manage expectations.

But, if you’re willing to invest the time and resources, the metaverse can offer some very exciting opportunities to delight your customer while giving you a competitive edge.

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses account for more than half of all American jobs and more than 60 percent of new jobs created in the past two decades. An overwhelming majority of these small businesses are actually solopreneurs. At this stage, the costs of running a business are significant. If these entrepreneurs can create and sell products and services without having to invest in physical infrastructure or hire additional employees, that is a net positive outcome that helps the true micro-business be more competitive.

Create an immersive experience that would allow your users to experience something they wouldn’t be able to do in real life and you’re likely on the right path.

Never neglect the connection between the customer experience and an increase in sales and brand awareness. Used strategically, the metaverse offers a unique way to connect with your happy customers and create a community around your brand.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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