12 Feb Top 5 small business priorities for 2021
Do you have a clear idea of your small business priorities for 2021? Or did you have an idea that then dramatically changed with the situation. There was so much turmoil last year. We went through significant change personally and professionally. As the uncertainty continues it can be difficult to know where to focus our time and effort in our small businesses. There are a few trends and transformations that are here to stay. Some permanently. Some for the foreseeable future until we have a vaccine rolled out.
Here are my suggestions for the top 5 priorities for your small business for the year ahead. As I sit listening to the announcement of a snap lockdown in Victoria, the first area of priority has to be about being quick to react and adapt! And to always take your customers into consideration.
1. Build on the agility and flexibility of your business.
We have seen short-term lockdowns in response to COVID clusters across the country, and it’s likely they will continue for a few months at least. So we have to continue to plan for unexpected impacts on our operations, and build further adaptability into our businesses.
Such as the capacity to suddenly deliver or participate in workshops online, move from dine-in to takeaway, or reinstate contactless delivery. For example, within a couple of hours of the lockdown my local bookshop made the announcement they would continue trading. Offering free delivery within 5km, and a contactless pick up option for the following five days. They had the systems and processes in place to be agile and keep trading when the situation suddenly changed.
Scenario planning can help you put contingencies in place and reduce uncertainty. You will then be able to implement the necessary steps in good time to adapt as required.
2. Continue to increase technology and digitisation.
Many small businesses adopted new technologies and adapted their services to remain open and viable last year. At the same time our customers increased their online activity and engagement. Such as shopping online, videoconferencing for work and to stay connected with friends and family, and using social media more. New demographics jumped on board digital, perhaps presenting an opportunity for you in your business.
According to Infrastructure Australia, online retail growth each month last year was five to six times the total annual growth for 2019. And these online shopping behaviours are set to continue. This means merely implementing the technology basics may not be enough. Plus, customers are now expecting a seamless digital experience across platforms.
So it’s a good time to review the technology you have implemented and analyse what can be improved or added to improve your CX (customer experience). Consider digitisation across all of your operations – review your offline activities and see what else you can bring online. Some things you might consider if you haven’t already:
- adding a customer service chatbot to your website
- building or implementing a more sophisticated e-commerce platform to sell your products and services
- a mobile-responsive website
- offering virtual services, or a hybrid model
- add a booking or scheduling system to your website
- more digital marketing through social media channels and email direct marketing (EDM)
- developing a business app.
3. Review your operations and business efficiency.
If your business has undergone significant change it is critical to review your business operations and efficiency. This will ensure you are operating effectively in the ‘new normal’.
Review how your business operates and identify any efficiencies that can be gained. Such as improving your processes and workflows, and reducing costs. Systems can be improved by eliminating waste, using technology (as described above), and time saved by outsourcing.
It’s good practice to document operational changes to your business. Such as website links, passwords, revised systems and processes, new or alternative suppliers, updated terms and conditions, and more. You may have to update your risk analysis as well. For example, the more we rely on technology the more that can go wrong before we realise it.
4. Regularly communicate with your customers/prospective customers.
Connecting with your target market frequently and communicating clearly is another important area to focus on this year. It will keep your business top of mind, as well as the practical benefits of keeping customers informed. People are still primed to support smaller and local businesses in the midst of the economic downturn, so you need to be visible.
Don’t forget to put your customer first in your messaging. Focus on how you can help and what the benefits are for the customer. The pandemic provides a real opportunity to strengthen relationships with existing customers and connect with potential customers.
Communication is particularly important when the situation changes. Such as the snap lockdown or when restrictions have changed. Let them know if you are operating as usual, or if there will be changes to how or when you are delivering products and services. Assure them you know what is going on and you have their best interests in mind.
5. Connect with customers through purpose, values and empathy.
Now is the time to review your business purpose and values. Refining how you articulate your purpose, and demonstrate your values. More than ever, customers want to transact with brands that align with their beliefs and connect with their way of life. If this alignment is missing, they will look to your competitors.
Developing your brand as one with compassion and empathy is part of this. Building trust and meaningful emotional connections. Making these connections will help your business not only survive but thrive.
Understanding customers needs and feelings is as important, if not more, than technology features and streamlining operations.
How Beyond Business Groups can help you with your small business priorities
Our year-long Beyond Business Groups program takes you through all of the areas of running and business. Including purpose, values, systems and processes, branding, marketing and more. You make time to work on each area, using the great information, tools, activities and resources we provide. Then implement the changes you need to improve your business. Our small group model ensures you have peers to learn with and from, and share ideas and a few laughs. Find out more about what Beyond Business Groups is and how it works here.
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