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Turning lessons learned in 2020 into planning for success in 2021

2020 was undeniably one of the toughest years in recent memory. After drought, disasters, pandemics and rising unemployment (reaching 7% in October 2020), we’re all looking forward to a fresh start in 2021.

While we’re all ready to wave goodbye to 2020, there are still important lessons to be learned from the past 12 months. So, before you slam the door shut on the year entirely, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the highs and lows of your business this year.

The value of reflecting on what you learned

The first step to setting achievable goals in the New Year is to think about what did and didn’t serve you, and your business, in 2020. Here are a few prompts to get you started:

  • What are 3 of your biggest business highlights from last year?
  • What are 3 of your greatest challenges from being in business last year?
  • What unexpected lessons did you learn throughout the last year?

With these answers on-hand, and a few numbers to back it up, you’ll be in a great position to review and reflect on what’s happened in your business over the past 12 months. By getting specific about the areas of your business that need improvement, as well as the various wins you’ve had, you will be better able to ride out similar challenges in the months and years to come.

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash.

Let’s explore four key themes of this year so you can best refocus, redesign and relaunch yourself in the New Year.

Lesson #1 ~ Embrace the unexpected

This year, we’ve added words like ‘turbulent’, ‘uncertain’ and ‘pivot’ to our shared vernacular, and while we might never want to hear them again, it’s not hard to see why they’ve become an indelible part of the lexicon.

We know that having a flexible, growth mindset and a willingness to embrace change serves small business owners well, and being able to adapt quickly and adeptly to changing conditions is one of the greatest strengths that business owners can develop.

Here are three thought-starters to help you set up a future-proof business plan for the New Year:

  • What systems could I develop or introduce into my business to strengthen our offering in the year ahead?
  • Are there contingencies in my business plan to ensure we always have a diverse stream of income? If not, what new products, services or platforms should I consider adding to our remit?
  • What new opportunities have emerged during 2020 that we can invest our time and energy into in 2021?

While we can’t predict the future, we can put a roadmap or contingency in place

Lesson #2 ~ Make customer experience a top priority

Many business owners have had to rapidly evolve the way they serve their customers in 2020. From launching online stores to offering home delivery or running virtual workshops, each of us has had to find innovative ways to keep the doors open this year. But it’s not just business owners that have needed to change the way they live and work in 2020.

Customers are also navigating the realities of the ‘new normal’ (another to add to the list of phrases never to hear again in 2021), and their priorities are likely to have shifted as a result. As we look forward to the New Year, now is the perfect time to connect with your customers to see how you can improve the products and services you provide.

Start by getting a better understanding of how customers are currently interacting with your brand. And don’t just listen to what they say, listen to what they do! Take a look at your website analytics, e-commerce sales and marketing stats to see what trends are emerging.

  • Are users abandoning your website due to slow load speed?
  • What type of content are they engaging with on social media?
  • Which products or services are most and least popular?

Review this valuable information and use these insights to inform the direction you take your business in 2021. You might even consider running a quick customer survey to understand their current needs and pain points. After all, your customers are human, and their priorities will shift over time, pandemic or not, meaning it’s essential for your businesses’ offering to stay in touch with their current needs, goals and priorities.

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash.

Lesson #3 ~ Play to your strengths

In 2020, the way we do business has changed enormously. From lockdowns to Zoom calls and digital-only shopfronts, it’s now hard to imagine what doing business was like pre-COVID. However, despite these new conditions, the reason you started your business likely hasn’t changed.

No matter what industry or sector you’re in, small businesses are solving problems for people. In many cases, you’re doing things different or offering a unique solution that sets you apart from other businesses. Plus, the values and mission of your business are (or should be) unique assets that nobody else has.

When planning and looking ahead to 2021, consider how you can leverage your businesses’ unique strengths. Consider what skills, talents and experiences you can draw on to position your business as a leader in your field and set yourself apart from the rest. By doubling-down on your point of difference or ‘unique selling proposition’ to get a little technical, you’ll be able to stand out to potential customers and help them say ‘YES’ quicker.

Lesson #4 ~ Polish your online presence

Did you launch an online marketplace to keep up with customer demand for ‘click and collect’ in the midst of lockdown? Or perhaps you finally started an Instagram or Facebook page for your business? If so, you’re not alone.

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash.

While jumping in the deep end and embracing digital was a necessity during 2020, yesterday was a good time to plan how you’re going to connect with your customers online in 2021 and beyond. The next best time is today.

With the rapid rise of e-commerce, this is a key area to nail in the New Year. Here are a few digital tips from Social Media Manager Lucinda Starr to consider implementing in your business in 2021:

  • Optimise your website for mobile use as people are frequently ditching the desktop for handheld devices
  • Conduct a user-friendly analysis of your site to make sure it’s as easy to navigate as possible
  • Create a content calendar to help you plan and share regular content on your blog and social media pages to improve your searchability on Google
  • Invest in setting your team up for effective and remote digital work with cloud-based software like Google Drive or Microsoft teams

The best way to plan for success in the New Year is to take what you’ve learned in 2020 and use it to plot the areas for growth and opportunity in 2021 with actionable goals for the year ahead. And let’s hope it’s a year that’s a lot kinder on all of us.

If you want to kick off the New Year with the confidence that your books are being taken care of, BASic Bookkeepers is here to help. Get in touch by giving us a call on 1300 852 575 or submit an online inquiry here.