The impact of 2020 will stay with us for the rest of our lives. It marks a critical inflection point of before and after. It is a year that blindsided many small-business owners.
We’ve seen new businesses birthed with success and others thriving amid chaos. We’ve seen neighborhood classics tragically lost, and others that struggle to survive day-to-day.
Critical points like these thrust every business owner from acting with strategic intention to reacting to curveballs. As we greet 2021, most businesses are settling into one of three camps:
- Thriving, but not trusting the success
- Surviving but hesitant to make bold moves
- Struggling and feeling battered, bruised and disillusioned
No matter which camp you fall into, you likely are eyeing 2021 with caution. You’re optimistic but timid in your approach to making those big visionary goals you’ve made in the past. You may even find it hard to dream of a better future because it feels so out of touch with what is happening globally. You are not alone in those feelings.
Do not become discouraged. The new year is an opportunity to rewrite the rules and stop settling for less in your business. It is the opportunity to cast a strategic vision that is different from the past and to create more success and growth in your business and your life. Here are five ways you can make it happen.
1. Embrace change
Change unsettles most people, but it is constant for small-business owners. And change is happening at a frightening pace.
You’ve likely noticed that the old reliable ways of getting clients and serving them are faltering. The laundry list of things that need your attention is growing. Nip these issues in the bud.
If change is already happening in your business, why not get ahead of it? When you are reacting to these changes, you treat the symptoms. The better approach is to embrace change to treat the problem.
By treating the problem, you employ change to work with you, not against you. People are likely to welcome strategic change now—especially if the change makes their lives better too.
One solid way to bring agility and innovation into your small business is to implement a quarterly strategic planning and review process into your business. This planning rhythm keeps your efforts focused and actionable while remaining agile and able to shift as new learnings come to the table.
As part of the process, ask yourself these questions.
- What would disrupt your business enough to change everything?
- How can you be on the leading edge of that change?
- How can the business be relevant and profitable five or even 10 years from now?
2. Prioritize customer needs
The old rules of supply and demand have gone topsy-turvy. Through issues with manufacturing and distribution, product-based businesses feel the pinch. Changing client needs and social distancing have left recession-proof businesses struggling. Service-based businesses are finding that their services are no longer crucial or needed. No business or business model has been immune.
The reason is simple: The customers‘ needs and their problems are in a constant state of change.
A simple strategy is engaging in a conversation with your clients to identify opportunities. The strategy could be as simple as asking a probing question at the end of every client interaction. It could also be more involved such as surveys or quarterly client advisory groups, to follow a more formal process.
More than ever, staying in tune with the customers’ needs and the problems you can solve is imperative. It is the gateway for future growth and innovation.
Related: How to Protect Your Company’s Reputation on Social Media