This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme

How To Guide Your Small Business Through 2021

DATE: 22/01/21

AUTHOR: Gor For It

You’ve weathered the storm of 2020 with its economic challenges and constant change, but hopes for a calm 2021 may be somewhat off the mark. It’s clear that regardless of what is ahead, the next 12 months are impossible to predict. So how, as a new and small business, can you hope to map a path through the fluctuating conditions ahead?

There’s no easy win but it will certainly help to work through these 4 ‘P’s to begin with. Being structured and committed in your approach while bearing these in mind is a good place to start.

We’ve all had to adopt a positive mindset whether personally or socially but don’t underestimate the power of being upbeat when it comes to your business too. 2020 was defined by ‘No’: limitations on people and businesses, testing conditions to work through and restrictions where none of us have experienced them before. But rather than focus solely on what we can’t do, try looking at things from the perspective of what you can do. This shift can change your output enormously.

If your regular means of operating has been stopped, can you move to work online? Can you supply your customers via delivery or collection? Could you use this time to rethink how you’re doing things, to diversify your product range or to change your marketing strategy. Perhaps you can collaborate with another brand to leverage your offerings to an extended customer base? Refresh your motivation. Remember your objectives and think creatively. Considering your position as a point of advantage can allow you to see opportunity rather than limitation and now more than any before, businesses need that kind of thinking.

Proper and considered planning is key and right now many businesses will have the time to really turn their attentions to this. Take the opportunity. Re-asses your strategy, your goals, immediate, short term, long term. Where are you now and what are the steps you think essential to achieving your objectives? Are you considering diversifying your offering and if so, what plans do you need in place, what infrastructure, what marketing, what human resources? Will you use this time for research and market planning, and if so, how will that impact your budget, your projections, your bottom line?

Keep your overall objectives front and centre while you consider some possible scenarios that could be heading down the 2021 pipe. You cannot be completely prepared, none of us know exactly how the markets will change this year, but working through as many ‘what if’ scenarios as possible will allow you to feel as prepared as possible. It will give you mental space to recommit to your chosen strategy without the fear that you’ve not explored all options.

Take some time to focus on the people that make your business work. First of all your own people, the team you have around you, and yourself. Businesses are made up of the individuals who work within them and now more than ever, we need to be looking after our team. If you have staff or employees who are working from home, if you are navigating remote connections and virtual HR, be thoughtful about it. Be compassionate to the challenges most people are experiencing.

Talk openly to your team about how they can best work and what could be done to make their output achievable whether that’s through more flexible hours or different responsibilities. Roles and deliverables are fluid at the moment and taking the best care of the people who make your business possible is essential. Don’t forget to include yourself in this. How can you work around home and other responsibilities while still answering client needs and having in mind the overall well being of the business? Can you rethink your day, your hours, your availability to answer the needs while still looking after yourself?

Next on the list are your clients and customers. A business should always prioritise these individuals but now more than every we need to be tuned into their needs. Life is different, for everyone.
Habits have shifted, spending has changed, how we’re living and how we chose to engage is moving depending on the restrictions placed on us all. Talk to your clients, understand what they are experiencing and whether you can offer solutions to their problems? Could you provide better added value to customers when you understand how they are living and what their needs are?

Time spent gathering feedback from your key clients and customers is invaluable. Be where they are, engage with them on social media, check in on how they’re working, what they need, what issues they are experiencing. Use this information to shape your offering, to help you reformulate your plans and to stay ahead of whatever news we’ll receive.

There will always be things that we can’t affect in business, but we still need be flexible to survive. Business is Darwinian, the fittest continue and in this climate that means a business who is willing to flex, prepared to pivot their offering and rethink their every move, will be the last one standing.
The strategy that was attached to your business 12 months ago will no longer underpin your decisions. It’s vital that you look at your business through the lens of the current economic environment. See it as creating the next generation of your organisation. An evolved strategy. Perhaps that means your business becomes hybrid going forward, with offerings in person and online? Or maybe your will consider diversifying your product range in a way that you had not anticipated when you launched? Don’t take anything off the list. If you have identified a need within your clients and customers, find a way to shape your offering to suit that. Being multi disciplinary is key
to survival. The economic conditions we live in argue for generalists rather than specialists so look to carve out your niche as an evolution of where you started in order to move forward.

Whatever the next 12 months bring for businesses small and large, taking time to consider these aspects can only help you to maintain and at best, grow your enterprise. Taking the opportunity to dig deep into planning, and people while clarifying how to pivot the offering in a positive way, takes resilience and will ultimately be what marks a business out from their competitors.

Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help.

Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch . Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.