Are you eager to get a fresh start in 2021, or is the future too unpredictable to get excited about? Both feelings are completely understandable, especially for the small business owner. On the one hand, 2021 will likely bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. But on the other hand, there’s really no way to predict when that end will be. There are still so many questions to be answered and you may be wondering if your business can survive that long.
If this thought keeps you up at night, you’re not alone.
According to a recent report from the National Federation of Independent Business, “21% of small and midsize business owners claim that they’ll go out of business within the next six months if the economy doesn’t improve.” Those are certainly difficult statistics to read, but there’s still plenty of hope among small business owners as well. In fact, the majority of small business owners in the United States (around 83% of people surveyed) believe that 2021 will be a successful year.
Although much of what lies ahead is still uncertain, it is possible to achieve success in the coming year! Here are five tips that we hope will help you welcome 2021 with open arms and an optimistic attitude:
1. Get to Know Your Customers All Over Again
This year has changed us all. We’ve made big changes in how we work, how we shop, and even what we do with our spare time. For many of your customers, life is completely different now than it was in January of 2020. This means that in 2021, you’ll need to get to know them all over again. Take the time to deeply understand your customers’ new needs and wants. This will help you plan your marketing efforts and make helpful, informed changes to your business throughout the year.
2. Plan to Keep Your Marketing Fluid and RelevantMarketing is crucial to the success of your business because it’s one of the greatest tools you have for gaining new customers and retaining old ones. Typically, you might take time at the beginning of the year to set a marketing strategy for the next twelve months. In 2021, however, planning that far ahead will be challenging. As we’ve said before, there’s no telling when this pandemic will end, and when life will return to “normal”.
With this in mind, we recommend approaching the new year with a flexible marketing strategy. Take time to sketch out your ideas for campaigns or promotions but try not to put too much stake in them. In these times, it is more effective to convey sensitivity and awareness for the issues facing your audience than try to proceed with sales and marketing as if everything is normal. According to Content Marketing Institute, “Exercising sound judgment and practicing good sense in what and how your content communicates to your audiences could determine whether your brand continues to be welcomed into their lives or gets tuned out permanently.” Essentially, there are five simple words to keep in mind when it comes to marketing in 2021 - be ready to make changes.
3. Keep Enhancing Remote Work Capabilities
Throughout 2020, CEOs and leadership teams everywhere learned how to adapt and innovate in order to save their business. One of the most notable ways many business owners achieved this was by equipping their workforce to work from home. If your business was fortunate enough to allow employees to work from home this year, we encourage you to keep exploring this option.
Working from home has its benefits, such as avoiding layoffs and helping to keep employees healthy, but it also has its challenges. One of the biggest challenges remote workforces often face is maintaining productivity. It’s simply too easy to get distracted when you move your workspace into your personal space. Here are a few things to try in 2021 to help your team maintain productivity:
- Set clear, documented deadlines for tasks and assignments to help your team stay focused.
- Enforce typical work hours to give your team a sense normal routine.
- Keep in touch with your team about more than just work. This shows that you care and will help you continue to build healthy working relationships, even from a distance.
- Encourage your team to continue to communicate and work together via instant message, video call, or over the phone.
4. Optimize Your Local SEO Strategy
Another challenge your business may have faced in 2020 is gaining new customers. That’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just harder to gain new customers when less people are out and about. One way to help your business get noticed is by optimizing your local SEO.
Local SEO is a Search Engine Optimization strategy that targets potential customers who live in your neighborhood. For example, let’s say you own a cupcake bakery in Fredericktown. If you have a good local SEO strategy, your business should appear when someone types ‘bakeries in Fredericktown’ or ‘best cupcakes Fredericktown’ into their Google search bar. If you have claimed and updated your Google My Business page, the customer can click on your bakery’s listing to learn more about your specific location, hours, menu, and more. This is a simple way to help your business get noticed online.
Click here for specific directions to help you optimize your local SEO strategy.
5. Improve Your Website and/or eCommerce Experience
The amount of people who have moved to shopping and placing orders online this year is astonishing. According to The Washington Post, “U.S. online shopping sales are projected to reach $795 billion this year, a 32 percent gain from last year, according to research firm eMarketer. Already, the Census Bureau reported that in the second quarter, the nation’s online spending surged to 16 percent of total retail sales, from 11 percent previously. And Forrester Research expects roughly a quarter of all holiday shopping to take place online, up from 20 percent.”
So, why are so many people ordering online? The obvious reasons of convenience and COVID-19 safety immediately come to mind, but there’s more to it than that. In 2020, retail stores and restaurants started offering new services to accommodate customers, including:
- Buy online pick up in store
- Curbside pickup
- Contactless pickup
- Same-day delivery
All these options and more emphasized placing an order online, therefore decreasing the number of people shopping in stores. These options have become popular and convenient for customers, not to mention profitable for businesses. It’s likely that businesses will keep offering these options, even after the COVID-19 threat has gone. If you haven’t already, now is the time to invest in improvements like these for your website and/or eCommerce solution. It will be a huge advantage for your business in 2021.
Need help with your website or eCommerce solution? Contact us!
What a year this has been. You have weathered an incredible storm, and for that you should be proud. We hope that these five tips will help you look forward to starting fresh in 2021, with renewed vigor for small business success.