As we come to the end of what has been one of the most volatile and disruptive years for small and medium-sized businesses in Australia, now is the time to reflect on what lessons we have learned from 2020 and make plans for the year ahead.
Reflection is an extremely valuable tool for businesses. Before jumping straight into planning for 2021, all businesses, from start-ups to large enterprises, should use this time to look back on the year that’s been and the lessons they can take into the future, including which habits they should continue to embrace or break as we head into the new year.
2020 has taught us that being agile and dealing with change is a key skill. Seeing opportunity and innovating in a crisis is now critical for business success. We’ve seen this from small businesses such as restaurants that reinvented themselves as takeaways and maintained their communities of customers, to fitness professionals that went online early and developed new revenue streams.
While it’s impossible to predict exactly what next year will look like, these five resolutions should hold any business in good stead for a more productive and secure 2021.
- Build on digital transformation
For many small businesses, 2020 has been a year of digital transformation, with many companies moving their operations and communications online.
SMBs should continue to build on this momentum and explore new technologies to further improve efficiencies within their businesses, including cloud tools or software as a service environments. This may involve migrating legacy IT infrastructure to the cloud to gain the benefits of increased cost-efficiencies, scalability and flexibility.
- The customer is king
In this digital era, word-of-mouth is more relevant than ever, with reviews for products and services found at the touch of a button. Consumers are constantly connected to mobile and digital devices, and expect instant support, gratification and personalisation from brands.
Finding ways to improve your customer service is vital to building brand loyalty. As we head into 2021, take the time to re-evaluate your current customer experience. Is there a way that you can remove friction and better anticipate their needs, without removing choice? If you’re not already, make sure that you are properly investing in data analytics to best understand your customers and predict their needs. You can then look to personalise and modify your products, service and customer experience to best align with customer buying behaviours.
- Secure your assets from cyber threats
As businesses become increasingly digital, it’s not just big institutions and large enterprise companies that need to be concerned with their online security. All SMBs need to put into place measures to guard against cyber threats. This may involve upgrading your company’s security software or holding refresher training with employees on the importance of cybersecurity and how to identify potential threats.
This year has shown us that when needed, small businesses can be the pioneers of innovation, as their lack of red tape and stakeholders afford them extra flexibility. They can make quicker decisions and jump on new trends faster than their larger enterprise counterparts. SMBs should continue to build on this culture of flexibility and innovation as we head into 2021 – but this time don’t do it out of necessity, but out of choice.
- Prioritise workforce engagement
For many Australians, regularly working from home is now standard practice. But with so much of the workforce now working remotely, it’s more important than ever to define your business’ values and ensure that you are supporting your people. Work with your HR manager, or speak to your workforce to understand how you can make their work lives better. You might implement new rewards or benefits, offer training and learning opportunities or better communicate your company’s vision, goals and values.
Every minute you invest in improving employee satisfaction will no doubt save you time in the long run interviewing candidates to replace people who leave. And of course, it goes without saying that a happy workforce is a more productive workforce.