2020 was quite an unpredictable and disruptive year for small businesses. From shifting to remote work in a matter of weeks to unexpected loss in revenue, many companies have experienced hardship. At the same time, many business owners have discovered a silver lining. Whether it’s an increase in efficiency and productivity or simply learning more about their customers and their needs, almost every small business has incorporated a new process from 2020 that they’ll be keeping indefinitely.
With this in mind, we wanted to share some advice for business owners in 2021 based on our conversations and experiences with some of our clients that managed to navigate the pandemic and the challenges it presented relatively successfully. The main commonalities are that these businesses found a way to listen to their customers, as well as increase efficiency and efficacy.
How can you set your business apart in 2021?
- Re-focus on your existing customers. That simple practice can simplify many business practices, and even lead to new ways to reach new customers through referrals and word of mouth.
- Find new ways to continue to combat the pandemic, including becoming more agile and efficient in your operations, reduce overhead where it doesn’t contribute to your bottom line, and explore opportunities for online revenue.
How can a start-up mindset and technology help you adapt?
- Operate like if you are a start-up — small and nimble. When times are good, there’s a tendency to grow for the sake of growing instead of being hyper vigilant about costs, size of team, and whether or not something is absolutely necessary for your business’ success.
- Explore how technology and scaleable processes can help your business save money and operate more effectively. There is ample opportunity to find the right combination of tech and employee run systems to scale without adding extraordinary costs
Can you continue to run your business remaining remote or is there potential for exercising a hybrid model?
- Make the most of your employee’s time. Consider a hybrid model where employees only come into the office when they are physically needed there. It will save travel time, keep employees safe, and even lead to increased productivity through enhanced communication and morale.
- Be smart and keep up the safety practices. The pandemic is still her and while many have grown exhausted of the precautions, continue to follow safety protocols, keep social distancing, require masks, have hand sanitizer at every possible location, and incorporate physical barriers were possible.
What’s the best advice for 2021?
- Get to know your customers all over again. Everyone’s lives, habits, and needs have changed in some way and you need to understand how that has affected your customers. For businesses looking to grow, think about new distribution channels and ways to promote your business. Old channels may have closed or narrowed, but others may have just opened up.
- Keep an open mind and continue to adapt. Some normalcy will return, but don’t think things will go back to normal. There’ll be a new normal and qny weaknesses that the pandemic uncovered in your business could happen again — so strategically plan, load up on resources and planning, and make sure you can respond quickly if something like that ever happens again.
Happy New Year — and may 2021 be your most successful year yet!