Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It may sound like science fiction, but the metaverse is coming. When Facebook rebranded itself as Meta back in October 2021, unveiling plans for a $10bn virtual reality social community, the world pricked up its ears to pay attention to a concept previously dismissed as a bit too out there and fanciful.
Looming on our doorsteps is an interconnected network of virtual realities which we can all synchronously experience and within which we can interact with each other in the same way as we do in our in-person lives.
Essentially, it’s the internet, but in a 3D, fully immersible form. For those of us running our own businesses, the metaverse presents a whole new — literal — dimension to consider. I believe it’s one we can’t afford to ignore.
Market expansion will dictate the future of small business
Not sure the metaverse will creep into your market? Think again. Within the luxury industry alone, Morgan Stanley is already estimating NFTs in the metaverse or gaming worlds could account for 10% of the market by 2030 – adding an additional $10 – $20billion to the total addressable market.
As a business owner myself, I need to consider how my company can stay viable and competitive within an expanded market environment. For some of you, getting ahead of the game in a new digital market will present an opportunity to compete against bigger players. We’ve already seen this in the fashion industry, where companies like Rtfkt and Sapphire have successfully taken on more iconic brands in the digital space.
Metaverse companies need an emphasis on digital vs. physical assets
In fact, fashion brands, in general, are already ahead of the business metaverse curve. They show us that we need to consider how we can create digital as well as physical assets for our customers. In fashion, this has translated into 3D digital renders of clothing designs. Already, these are selling as NFTs for huge sums of real-life money.
I suspect we’ll see more already-established brands occupying digital space, leveraging their brand celebrity to take advantage of an expanded digital market. As well as greater competition from digital-only brands.
Cryptocurrency will drive real-life profit
Business digitalization will naturally lead to more reliance on crypto as a cornerstone of real-life profits. I would argue that if you have a business already invested in the crypto world and are ready to process crypto payments, you will have an advantage over your competitors.
Be prepared for the change to an online digital business
As a business owner, I’m being prepared. Companies need to start planning to become an online digital business – as well as one that serves its clients in real life. The technology isn’t in place yet for the metaverse to fully take off, and consumer awareness is still in its infancy. Will it just be a hyped-up tech bubble that bursts before it develops further? Maybe.
But big tech has already invested billions in the metaverse. Leading brands like Gucci have proven there is real-life money to be made. And, as the next generation prepares to enter the marketplace — internet natives already used to be consumers in a digital world — the virtual business opportunities begin to look more real.