By Susan Guillory
If you’re up for a task—a really easy one—I’d like you to commit to making 2021 better than 2020.
Easy peasy, right?
This year has certainly knocked us all on our duffs, and there still is no way to know how much longer we’re in for economic strain, stay-at-home orders, and irregular sales patterns. But I am confident that we can make New Year’s resolutions to ensure we aren’t taken by surprise by anything in 2021—save aliens taking over the planet (at this point, nothing is outside the realm of possibility).
Permit me to set a few resolutions we can share as entrepreneurs.
New Year’s Resolution #1. We will be flexible and adaptable
I don’t know a single business that didn’t struggle to shift how it operated in 2020. Whether that meant a restaurant reeling to recover from losing the revenue from onsite dining or a giant corporation struggling to work remotely effectively, we’ve all had some bumps in the road.
But the valuable lesson from this is we can never, ever solidify how we do business. Whether it’s a pandemic or just a crowded marketplace, small businesses must be nimble and ready to change strategy, technology, or products with the snap of a finger.
So while I certainly hope things get better in 2021 and we have fewer unpleasant surprises, let’s follow the old Boy Scout motto and “be prepared.”
New Year’s Resolution #2. We will support one another
It’s one thing to be a small business owner and spout the importance of supporting small local businesses. It’s another thing entirely to practice what you preach. I know I have thought a lot about all the tiny restaurants, boutiques, and business services in my community who have had a rotten year, and I have made more of an effort to move away from the bigger retailers in favor of those I know are struggling.
I just bought a delicious latte and fresh doughnut slathered in marshmallow cream (with the excuse of it being for my teenage son—ahem) from a small coffee shop rather than going to the more convenient Starbucks a block away. It’s not much, but if we make a New Year’s resolution to all start frequenting those small businesses, they just might make it through.
New Year’s Resolution #3. We will empower ourselves
I’ve been writing about finance a lot in my work, and it’s shocking how many business owners aren’t aware of all the financing options they have available. It’s not just big banks that offer loans now. There are plenty of alternative lenders that offer small businesses the money they need without all the paperwork and strict requirements.
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But as a busy business owner, I get it. You don’t have time to spend researching loan options. But realize that you hold the power of finding the financing solution that fits your needs. An extra hour of research could help you shave a few percentage points off your interest, and that, long-term, can amount to big savings.
New Year’s Resolution #4. We will remember to relax
This year has been unbelievably stressful. In addition to most of us needing to keep plugging away far more hours than we used to just to stay afloat, there’s nowhere to go if we were to take a vacation. But next year, my friend, I want you to make a concerted effort to take time off to decompress. It may seem frivolous, but taking off can actually make you a better business owner as your brain gets a chance to recharge and you come back with great ideas.
Whether it’s taking off half a day and getting a well-deserved massage or going on vacation (or staycation) for a week, make a New Year’s resolution right now to devote time to yourself in 2021.
New Year’s Resolution #5. We will reconsider office space
So that sleek, startup-style office space with the killer views you signed a lease on? Yeah. Gathered dust in 2020. And you learned that despite thinking you absolutely had to have your staff work in an office, you actually all got a lot done working in pj’s from home.
So it’s time to consider whether office space is even a worthwhile and relevant investment for your business anymore. Maybe that money could be put elsewhere for a better impact on the bottom line?
New Year’s Resolution #6. We will get creative with our marketing
I saw some truly innovative marketing strategies when we were knee-deep in the pandemic. Companies started getting more personal on Instagram. They partnered with other businesses to provide more services to a wider audience. They went out of their comfort zones (because where else was there to go?) and had some surprising results.
So let’s keep that going. Shake up what you’ve been doing, because it probably doesn’t work anymore. Invest time and money into channels you’ve never considered. Talk to people you consider competitors; they could actually be a great source of referrals of new business to you. Keep an open mind about how you attract customers and how you nurture those relationships.
Here’s to a brighter year ahead!
I think we set the bar low by saying we’ll make 2021 better than this year. We’ve struggled for so long that we now appreciate every customer and every sale in a way we never did in the past, and that’s already setting us up for success.
About the Author
This article was originally published on AllBusiness.