We’re closing out a business year unlike one we’ve ever seen.
As we cross off the final to-dos on our 2020 calendar, it’s time to start planning for 2021’s challenges and victories. In the hope that next year won’t be rough as this year was, here are seven business tips that business leaders and entrepreneurs should be mindful of as they close out 2020 and prepare for 2021.
Make a prep file for grant applications
This year, we saw an uptick in grants and loans available to big and small businesses to combat closures and layoffs. Almost nine months later, we’re still deep in the pandemic, meaning that fortunately (or unfortunately), these funds will continue to be available. Make a desktop folder containing the basic information funders request. Fill it with copy-and-paste-ready details like your business narrative, P&L statements, W-9, a list of staff and contractors and a cover sheet with photos and social profiles and website. Filing for these grants can be very stressful and time-consuming. Being prepared will make it easier to apply.
Have a plan for going virtual
Hopefully, you’ve had the conversation about going virtual with yourself and your team already this year. If not, drop what you’re doing and have it right now. This year taught us that having just one way of engaging with our customers is detrimental. Businesses and customers need to be able to access each other at any time. The relationship needs to be possible outside of brick and mortar. Make a list of ways to do this and research what tools and platforms will make this easier. These additional ways of sales and communications could produce more than your in-person sales.
Identify new pain points
Just like we have new challenges and pain points that we never imagined as business owners, so do our customers. Take some quiet time to think about your services customers cherish most, then ask yourself how COVID-19 is making it hard for them to receive those things. Brainstorm solutions to make it easier for them to get what they need from you. Is it an app? A delivery service? A virtual experience or private appointment? You have so many options. Sometimes the best thing to do is give yourself time and space to imagine.
Perform a SWOT analysis
Complete a SWOT test for your business to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. While these are fairly common for end-of-year reviews, this has been a year we can’t afford to miss doing it.
Take inventory of your systems
We can’t do it all, and honestly, we shouldn’t want to. Take inventory of the tasks that you complete daily in your business. What time-consuming things can you set up a system for so that they’re getting completed on autopilot while you use your time to focus on bigger things? For example, take a hard look at your invoicing and social media management? Research and discover systems that you can check in on once a month instead of daily to free up time.
Learn from the shutdown
We’ve all vented about how the shutdowns made business hard. While I do not deny this fact, let’s also take time to review our notes and learn. What has this year shown you about your business? Were there systems you realized you needed to have in place or paperwork you need to organize? This year’s shutdowns showed us many pain points — not just the ones our customers have but the ones we have also. Make a list of five places for growth and opportunity that the shutdown taught you, and then choose one to start working on immediately.
Celebrate your success
Congratulations: you deserve it. You got through the worst year ever. Find things to celebrate as often as possible: new milestones, your team members’ growth or simply just surviving. We all deserve something to celebrate together. Make a point to find a reason.