A new year brings new possibilities. What can you do now to make 2021 the best year possible for your business? We experienced tumultuous change in 2020 due to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak. Pretty much everyone’s lives and all businesses have been impacted in numerous ways. The crisis accelerated key trends creating both challenges and opportunities for business owners. Some of these impacts will be permanent while others may be temporary. Unfortunately, many businesses had to close their doors forever. There is much uncertainty going into 2021, a year that also promises to usher in significant change. After surviving 2020, you must continue to be proactive, creative, and flexible to THRIVE, or even just survive. The following are 5 strategies that I recommend for increasing the likelihood and magnitude of your success this year…
First and foremost, you must seek to understand how trends in 2020 impacted your business model and whether you expect those trends to continue in 2021. How has demand changed for your offerings? How has your competition fared? How are your customers doing and have their needs changed? Are there new markets for your products and service or new products and services you should offer? Reviewing the viability of your products and target market in the new environment is critical to implementing the optimal revenue strategies. It is also important to identify any changes in your variable cost structure that can impact your margins and profitability. Are your inventory costs increasing or decreasing? Does it cost more to deliver your products and services? You should look to reduce or eliminate any fixed expenses that you can and incorporate COVID related expenses into your model. Also, look to take advantage of technology to increase efficiency and effectiveness in growing revenue and decreasing costs.
It is critical to make a greater effort to strengthen current relationships and build new ones since relationships are critical to personal and business success. You should start by reaching out to all current customers and stakeholders to see how they are doing and better understand their needs. This is the highest impact activity you can engage in because it provides valuable information and could lead to some quick sales, since it much easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to do business with a new one. You also need to continue working the leads and new relationships that you have been nurturing. In addition, you must continue to build new relationships and fill your pipeline for the future. You should continue to join and participate in traditional relationship building activities such as chambers of commerce, networking groups and trade associations. However, you need to up your game and make a greater investment in online networking opportunities, as well.
The crisis accelerated the shift toward doing more and more business and personal activities virtually in 2020. This trend will continue in 2021 making it even more important to implement and expand upon active online marketing strategies. The first step is to update your website and social media profiles on all platforms in order to strengthen your brand and to drive traffic. You also need to create a calendar for contributing valuable content and other communications via social media on a consistent basis. Now is a great opportunity to take advantage of the power of LinkedIn for building relationships in combination with whatever other social media platforms your target market engages with. In addition, you should explore and evaluate whether paid online advertising strategies could be a worthwhile investment. Furthermore, seeking online PR opportunities through speaking, podcasting, writing blogs, publishing articles, etc. can go a long way toward increasing your exposure and strengthening your brand.
Running out of cash was one of the biggest challenges in 2020, evidenced by how many businesses are no longer in existence. This trend will continue in 2021 so it is critical to develop your plans for improved cash flow management. You should always understand your cash position and determine whether you need additional financing in advance. You may also be able to renegotiate terms with suppliers, customers, landlord and the government. It is a good time to eliminate unnecessary expenses and collect outstanding receivables more aggressively.
Finally, it is critical to continually increase your business knowledge to make better decisions. Start by assessing your knowledge gaps and reviewing your 2020 business challenges. Learn more about sales and marketing since they are your most important responsibilities as a business owner. Since there are many sources of business information available, which ones should you use? Great question! Free YouTube videos and traditional business support organizations like the SBA, SBDC, and SCORE are good for learning the basics. However, many times you will need more specialized knowledge and wisdom that can only be provided by someone with the right experience. Seeking out quality online learning and coaching programs with an expert can be expensive but making a bad business decision can cost you much more. Just make sure to look for substance and experience beyond the marketing hype. Also, never invest in anything you do not understand – take the time do your due diligence and obtain the knowledge you need to make a good decision.
I am confident that implementing these 5 Strategies for a Strong Start in 2021 will increase the likelihood and magnitude of your success this year. I wish you much success and business growth this year.
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