2020 has been full of surprises for most businesses. For one the pace of change means no business can afford to be complacent.
Many businesses who have traditionally marketed offline first or even offline only have realised how critical some form of digital visibility is to their business.
It’s clear by now at least that competition is going to be fierce until the economy recovers. And during this time smaller businesses with low cash reserves can lose market share or close entirely if they can’t keep up with the changes happening all around us. But small business is agile so it’s not all negative.
Larger Businesses are challenged with the rate of change and are throwing increasing amounts of money at the problem. I’m reminded of a Large Business that described itself as a Large Ship that turns slowly.
NGO’s are challenged by the need focus on the part of their cause that really matter to people now and not just things that matter in 20 years. And of course retaining their donors is a challenge because the donor base has shrunk in 2020.
These are the challenges and yet this is a pivotal moment for business. The core function of business is to solve problems. When you’re faced with multiple problems there are also heaps of opportunity in the market. If you don’t lose your head as a leader your Business is bound to come out stronger after the downturn in the economy has passed. And yes I’m quite aware that we’re not heading for overnight solutions.
I’ll be writing about factors that cause economic issues in a next post. But I’ll mention briefly that fear and anxiety is one of the largest issues I see in our society at the moment. If you get stuck here, you lose the ability to see clearly as a business leader.
So how will you grow your Business in 2021?
Invest in your people
You may find it quite odd, but you need to invest time in your people. Build relationships with your staff. Be honest and open about the challenges you face. And be prepared to allow your employees to get more involved in strategic decisions than they where before.
If you’ve been a key decision maker for a long time this may actually appear counterintuitive to you at first.
But hang in there because together you can actually find solutions to difficult issues. And quite possibly you can avoid repeated rounds of layoffs by coming up with creative solutions together.
Focus on the core of your business
Now more than ever it’s time to zoom in on the core functions of your business. What I mean by this is that your business has some things that are essential to your customers.
If you’re Project Management firm your key focus should be on managing projects.
This may seem obvious when I point it out. But businesses try to onboard things that they are not good at when finances become tight. At first glance this looks like a smart move. But if your business is not efficient at doing a task it is often more expensive to complete such a task inhouse. Even if the effective hourly rate of your employee tasked with this is much lower.
Keep on Marketing
The market is slower in a Downturn than it usually is. But the business is still out there. You just need different approaches to get to potential customers. And you need to keep your Sales Funnel full so you don’t reach negative growth if you lose customers.
In a time after people where encouraged to avoid each other like the plague it’s important to still be visible in all the other ways to customers and potential customers.
Optimizing your current marketing spend is going to be key to ensure that you reach your Marketing goals consistently while the market shifts.
This year more than ever it’s important to look after your customers and provide service that delights.
It costs a lot less to keep a customer than to find another. So ensure that everyone in your business knows that selling and retaining customers is part of every touch point you have with customers. That even includes the janitor’s demeanor if someone happens to pass him by.
Keep an eye on the horizon
Crisis mandates all hands on deck. This makes it easy to get focussed just on the present. But you also need to remember to put some time aside to think and consider the road ahead.
This is especially important since the marketplace is rapidly changing direction more like a river than like the waves we’ve been used to.
When you make time to think about what you see and weigh options it ensures the longevity of your organization. 2021 is the time for your leadership to shine.
If you hit a Dead end go another way
For some the downturn may mean that you need to change everything. Maybe even the nature or industry of your business. We’re in a time that requires grit and determination from leaders.
If you’ve engaged with everyone in your business and there is still no way ahead you may need to double down and head in another direction.
Consider if there is something you can do that is related to your industry. You’d be surprised what your employees and customers have noticed already. And if you’re a small business you have the advantage of moving quickly as opposed to writing big checks and hiring heaps of help to tug your ship in another direction while everyone onboard keeps plugging holes in the ship to avoid it sinking.
Let’s wrap it up
If you wanted to know how to grow your business in 2021 the answer is not as simple as we’d like to make it. We’re going to have to innovate and do things that matter most when they matter.
But sure enough the businesses that can weather the storm will emerge stronger with more market share on the other end.
So I will leave you with a positive thought to ponder.
“Leaders see the realm of probability and translate this into opportunities.”— Barco van Rhijn
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