Prepare Your Business for 2021

The past year has been a challenge for everyone — but small business owners really took a hard hit. While most of us came into the year full of optimism, things quickly went sideways. By the middle of the year, many businesses were forced to change their focus from looking for ways to grow to simply trying to survive.

One thing this pause did, however, was give us the time to slow down, reassess what we’re doing, and look for ways to make some improvements. Now is the time to focus on the things we can control and turn our attention towards setting ourselves up for success in 2021 and beyond.

While it’s likely that the new year will come with its own set of unexpected twists and turns, we can take the lessons we’ve learned this year and use them to make us stronger. Here are six important things you can do to prepare your business for 2021.

1. Evaluate What You’ve Learned

While reliving the traumas of 2020 may be the last thing you want to do, taking an objective look at the past 12 months can give you some extremely valuable insight.

  • What specific challenges came your way?
    What did you do to get through them?
    What worked, and what didn’t?
    If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently?

Pay attention to the answers to these questions, as they just may spark some ideas that will help make 2021 your best year ever.

2. Check in With Your Customer Base

Over the past year, many business owners have started thinking about offering new products or services or making some other adjustments to the way they do business. Before you make any drastic moves, though, make sure you reach out to your current clients or customers!

Now is a great time to check in and see how they’re doing. When you do, you can also learn more about their wants and needs. The last thing you want to do is make a change that’s unnecessary or unwelcome. Instead, make sure any updates you make improve the customer experience in some way.

You can also get some insight into how to position yourself for the future by asking them how they think their lives will change in the coming year. This is one of the best ways to figure out how your product or service will fit into this new reality. Ask questions like whether your customers want to continue doing things online or if they’re anxiously awaiting opportunities to start having in-person contact again. You might be surprised by what you learn!

3. Update Your Website

Now, more than ever, we’ve become an online society and that’s going away anytime soon. This means your online presence is more important now than ever.

Your website is a direct reflection of your business. If it’s outdated, slow, or otherwise creates a poor user experience, you will lose customers. Take an honest look at your website and fix any major issues as soon as you can.

4. Get More Active Online

Improving your online presence is one of the most important things you can do to prepare your business for 2021. However, you must also remember that all activity is not the same. Focus on creating content that allows you to connect with your audience in an authentic way. From Facebook posts and Tweets to blogs and lengthy whitepapers, everything you post online should deliver some type of value. Whether you’re educating, engaging, or entertaining, always make sure your content benefits the user.

It’s also important to stay engaged with your community. Now, more than ever, you need your customers to know that there are real people behind your brand. Try engaging your audience by posting staff photos and “behind the scenes” videos or host contests and giveaways using user-generated content (UGC).

When things get busy, social media is one of the first things that gets pushed to the back burner. However, since more people are spending their time on social media than ever before, this is a mistake.

Don’t just wing it! Create a social media plan and commit to sticking to it. This will help you set clear goals for what you want to achieve and ensure you’re consistently creating valuable content.

5. Rethink Your Marketing Budget

Most business owners are still feeling the financial pinch from 2020. This loss of revenue has made it necessary to make some tough choices, and almost everyone is re-evaluating their 2021 budgets. However, cutting out marketing completely is a major mistake. If you want to bounce back from the recent setbacks, you absolutely must maintain a presence. The key lies in finding ways to make the most out of the marketing dollars you spend.

Marketing and technology are some of the smartest places to spend your budget right now. Most of the companies that pressed on with their marketing plans despite the 2020 setbacks not only survived but are starting to thrive once again. On the flip side, most of the businesses that completely stopped marketing saw their social media engagement and following plummet far further and faster than they ever expected. This also correlated with a drastic reduction in their business revenue.

While it’s unclear exactly what 2021 will look like, it’s a good bet that this trend will continue. If you make the necessary investments in your marketing buto do so.

There are also other ways to update your budget. For example, if previous years’ budgets included funds for travel, in-person events, trade shows, conferences, or speaking engagements, you could take some of these funds and reallocate them, at least for the first half of 2021. Some smarter ways to invest this money include:

  • Outsourcing your social media management
  • Refreshing your brand
  • Focusing on local ads
  • Seeking out media exposure, interviews, etc.
  • Creating or updating your email marketing plan

When it comes to marketing in 2021, your overall priority should be to remain as active as possible so your business and your brand stays top-of-mind.

6. Create a Contingency Plan

If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s that we must be prepared to expect the unexpected. Now is the time to assess your business, get organized, build up your critical business infrastructure, and create a backup “crisis” plan.

Protect your business by making sure your regular operations are set up to run as smoothly as possible. This means ensuring your payroll is caught up, your filing systems and backups are safe and secure, and your other internal systems are running as efficiently as possible.

When COVID-19 hit, businesses that had their finances and paperwork organized were the first ones that were able to apply for PPP loans and other assistance. If something like this were to happen again tomorrow, would you be prepared?

Prepare Your Business for 2021 — Get Started Today!

The holiday season is upon us, and, for most businesses, this means a bit of downtime. Do yourself a favor and use some of this extra time to implement a few of these tips. Making some of these simple changes before the end of the year will help you proactively address some of the issues that have come up in 2020. This will allow you to focus on moving your business forward in the months and years to come.

Full-time freelance writer, blogger, and marketing expert. Learn more at

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