“True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous and conflicting information” -Winston Churchill
As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to fully access our inner genius and develop a new, strategic business plan. Undoubtedly, entrepreneurs are now well acquainted with the challenges of the shutdown resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, we saw years of behavior change in a matter of months – this striking ability to adapt and pivot has helped both leaders and their businesses evolve and survive.
What will 2021 bring for small businesses? We can’t answer that question with precision, but we can offer a guide on what small businesses can do to navigate an uncertain future. Below are eight valuable tips on how you can prepare your small business, not just for survival, but for success.
1. Re-evaluate and improve your business strategy
Before setting new goals for 2021, review last year’s business plan. It’s possible that the progress on the goals you had set for 2020 were affected and not met, but don’t take this as a defeat! Try to dig in instead and ask yourself these following questions:
1. Were your goals achieved? Why or why not?
2. If your progress was affected, why did that occur?
3.Where can you make adjustments to succeed?
4. How can you apply what you know now, to future goals?
By answering these questions, you’re evaluating the reasons as to why these objectives were not met and identifying the areas that need improvement. Re-consider cutting spending on areas that are generating losses and reinforce new areas that will boost up your revenue. For example, many businesses were forced to digitize their operations and services this year. Pivoting online, emerging towards a great online presence, and offering a seamless digital experience to customers is considered essential if you want to succeed in 2021.
2. Develop a multi-plan approach to prepare your business for unprecedented scenarios.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. As an entrepreneur, you need to be ready to tackle unforeseen disruptions. Instead of having one definite plan, business owners need to be flexible and adapt a multi-plan approach. Here are some steps to consider when trying to prepare for unprecedented challenges:
1. Layout a list of some potential obstacles you could face this 2021, such as ongoing health concerns, reopening at a slower pace, working remotely, lockdowns, or even natural disasters.
2. Draft out a list of relevant questions you might ask yourself if these events were to happen. For example: How will you keep your company functioning? Do your employees know what to do in case of an emergency, how to check-in, how to access files, and work securely from home?
3. Craft strategic responses for each one of them and if needed, designate tasks for your team so that the efforts are well distributed.
4. Research tactics that worked for other similar businesses or use your experience from 2020 to develop key tactics.
3. Research new demand
If you aren’t sure how demand has changed, reach out to customers and ask them how your business can help. Start by researching the market and getting to know your audience - then, find out what your potential and current customer's needs are. Learn what prospective customers want and more importantly, what they don’t want.
Businesses across every sector are having to find new and inventive ways to readjust their offer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a difficult time to retain even the most dedicated clients, but companies that can be flexible and adaptable are not only surviving but building new brand loyalty and accessibility into their processes and campaigns.
4. Keep the company culture alive and productive while working from home
Many companies already had a glimpse of how difficult it is to keep their workforce engaged and the company culture alive from home, especially when everyone went completely remote. Dedicate some time and effort to re-establishing a productive, work-at-home strategy.
5. Consider joining efforts with other companies
Hard times often call for a collective joint effort. Have you considered partnering with local businesses in your town to create a stronger connection with your community? For example, many restaurants are now partnering with delivery companies to provide a mutually productive relationship and to help fulfill the sudden rise in online ordering.
Why not partner with local businesses. It doesn’t have to be a longtime commitment, you could test the waters collaborating with another business or company joining efforts in a specific event, campaign, or action.
6. Audit your security processes
Our digital dependency has never been more noticeable. The pandemic scenario has never been more uncertain. Put these two components together, you’ve got a situation that invites fraudsters to extract money or information or by creating vulnerabilities. In fact, we are now witnessing a rise in online fraud, scams, intrusions, and security breaches.
A data breach can cost you big in lost sales, reputation, and trust. You must make auditing your security processes part of your 2021 business plan. Here are measures you can implement: Holding periodic seminars to teach your employees about cybersecurity measures; checking that any payment processors and gateways you utilize are PCI compliant, and updating systems and applications as needed to help ensure cybercriminals can’t access your data.
7. Review your data back up plan
Yes, as stated previously, there’s been an inevitable surge in the use of digital technologies due to the social distancing norms and nationwide lockdowns. Therefore, have you checked that your information is safe and backed up in different locations?
You should be backing up all critical data to three locations: a local drive, a second local drive and a remote drive (typically a cloud service). It’s easier if you automate backups so you don’t have to think about it. Determine your backup needs based on the data that is vital to your business – if you can’t afford to lose it, back it up. Lastly, pay special attention to your remote drive this time, especially if you have many employees working from home.
8. Determine your working capital needs
When you establish your revenue goals for the next 12 months, expansion needs should be part of your planning. Could your business use new computers, expanded inventory, a bigger space, a new hire etc. open profitable new revenue streams? If you need to access funding to build your business, or meet existing obligations, we can help! Get pre-qualified in less than 2 minutes today!