2020 was a hugely challenging year for business owners due to the pandemic, and 2021 looks set to be another difficult year, too. While there are many reasons to be optimistic about 2021, it will still be a challenging year as the pandemic continues, but businesses are looking to get back to normal. It is vital that companies still abide by the rules and take the pandemic very seriously for the health of their staff, customers and the public as a whole, but you will also want to start recovering and moving on from the pandemic. With this in mind, read on for a few tips for business owners in 2021 that will hopefully help you to get back on track.
Adapt the Business
First, you need to adapt your business to the current situation and think about what you can do in the near future when things start to open up. This might involve continuing with remote work, offering a digital service or contactless experience for your customers or making adaptations to the workplace so that social distancing and proper hygiene can be maintained throughout the day. You must keep in mind that people have low confidence in returning back to normality while the pandemic continues, so businesses need to take this very seriously and do all that they can to help people to feel safe.
Invest in Remote Working Tools
Many businesses plan to continue with WFH even after the pandemic ends because it can bring so many benefits both to the business and employees. In order to enjoy these benefits and overcome the challenges, you will need to have the right equipment, tools and software in place for your team. A few of the key tools that your team will need access to include:
- Cloud computing
- Video conferencing
- Screen recording and sharing software
- Communication platforms
- Home office equipment
Carry Out New Market Research
It would be wrong to think that everything will suddenly go back to normal once the pandemic has ended and business owners need to prepare themselves for this new beginning. This can be seen as a fresh slate, but in order to thrive in a post-pandemic marketplace, it is vital that you have learned what has changed, which means that you should look into conducting fresh market research to learn more about the state of the industry, your competitors and any changing consumer behaviors and trends.
Use Data Analysis
One effective way to gain a better understanding of your customers as well as how your business is doing is to use data analysis. Data analytics is extremely useful in situations like this because it can help a company to identify patterns and trends, fine-tune the operation and reduce risk when making any kind of strategic decision, which is important in times like these when businesses cannot afford to be making mistakes.
Upgrade the Company Website
As a fresh slate, now is also a good time to update the company website, especially if it has not been done for a few years. Web design trends change quickly, so websites can quickly become dated, which means that refreshing the design and ensuring that it is a positive reflection of your brand and outlines what steps you are taking to be COVID-secure is intelligent and will help to modernize your brand.
Add a Live Chat Feature
Following on from this, it is also worthwhile adding a live chat feature or a chatbot to the website. It is helpful being able to provide instant digital customer service, but especially in a time when consumer confidence is low and you need to be able to reassure people and answer any questions that they might have about using your business during unique circumstances such as these.
Increase Marketing Efforts
Now is also a great time to ramp up your marketing efforts in order to increase visibility online. Businesses will be vying for attention and desperate to attract new customers in 2021 to recover from the pandemic, which means that it will be even more competitive than normal. Using digital marketing from an experienced agency will be a smart way to boost your visibility online and hopefully help you to get back on track sooner rather than later.
Earn an MBA
Many entrepreneurs have been using this quieter period for upskilling, and this is certainly a good use of time. One of the best ways to do this is to earn an MBA in the evolving workplace, which will teach you all that you need to know to run a successful business during a period of change, such as now – click here to find out more. An MBA will certainly help a business owner to navigate challenging periods, plus the fact that you can earn the degree online makes it much easier to fit into your schedule, and you can start applying what you are learning straight away.
Now is also a good time for businesses to slash their costs in order to free up cash and improve their bottom line during a period when cash flow can be a major issue. It is vital that you are careful with this approach, though, as you do not want to make any drastic cuts that could put too much strain on your team or negatively affect the quality of the product/service that you provide. A few ideas for ways in which you can reduce costs include:
- Remote work
- Alternative energy
- Switching/negotiating with suppliers
- Buying second-hand
- Using open-source software
It is also a good time for businesses to go green with so much change happening. Consumers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious and selective of the brands that they use so this is important for improving your reputation as well as reducing your environmental impact. Not only this, but many of the strategies that you can use will also help to lower your costs too. There are many ways to make your business greener, such as:
- Remote work
- Alternative energy
- Switching to energy-efficient appliances
- Going paperless
- Increasing recycling
- Using green suppliers
The pandemic has resulted in a sharp rise in cybercrime with so many people working from home along with advanced new threats from bad actors looking to capitalize on the confusion and change that the pandemic has created. Therefore, it is important for business owners to consider how they can improve their cybersecurity moving forward whether this will involve investing in new cybersecurity products and/or educating staff on how to stay safe and identify the latest threats.
Protect the Business
Following on from this, there are also important lessons to be learned from the pandemic and one is the importance of protecting the company as disaster can clearly strike and destroy a successful business. Therefore, businesses need to make sure that they have protection in place that could help them to manage in the event of various different threats. A few of the best ways for a business to protect itself (in addition to cybersecurity) include:
- Physical security
- Terms and conditions
- Copyrights and trademarks
- Business insurance
Establish New Targets and Goals
The pandemic has completely changed the landscape for businesses of all sizes and in all industries. This means that business owners now need to rethink any goals and targets that might have been in place beforehand and take the time to establish new goals for individuals, team members and the business as a whole. As mentioned, this can be seen as a fresh slate and businesses may have to change their approach, especially in the short-term when it is unclear what the situation will look like. Therefore, you may want to think about what a few of the outcomes might be and make plans for each of these so that you are always prepared and able to adapt.
Prioritize Employee Wellbeing
Leading on from this, business owners also need to consider the impact that the pandemic will have had on their employees. Everyone has suffered as a result of the pandemic and this could be in many different ways, whether it is losing a loved one, falling ill themselves, stress over the health of loved ones, stress over financial and job security and general stress and anxiety over what has been a traumatic year. Experts state that mental health will be an even more serious issue moving out of the pandemic and this is something that business owners need to recognize and do all that they can to look after employee wellbeing.
These tips will hopefully help a business owner to manage during what is sure to be a unique and challenging year for all. Businesses will be desperate to kick on and thrive in a post-pandemic marketplace, but it might not be that easy especially when there is still so much uncertainty about the short-term situation. This is why it is so important to be prepared and to consider the best ways to manage, no matter what unfolds over the coming months.