4 Steps to a Successful 2021

After the unprecedented year that was 2020 the question has got to be what will 2021 bring? In the SME sector what approach should businesses have to their planning and forecasting? The truth is that when thinking about 2021 more questions than answers come up so we could refer to it as the 2021 conundrum.

When looking ahead to 2021 it is important to have goals and targets, even if they maybe are not what you were anticipating in your previous plans, to celebrate successes. Mentally it is also important to feel sense of achievement and progress. So, what should you aim to achieve? Is it realistic to aim for growth, or do you feel it is more a necessity to consolidate your current position? Maybe you are in survival mode? But then comes the issue that as a business can you afford to stand still? You can’t wait indefinitely to make decisions about what areas of the business to invest in, but now more than ever you need to protect your cash flow. Plus, you don’t want to fall behind in comparison to your competitors.

With the new skills we all learnt in 2020 to master the art of the online meeting we have been taking many of our customers and IT reseller partners through the following 4 step process to move into 2021 in a positive mindset with clear goals and targets relevant to them and their businesses. This is a process we complete every year with those that request it; but this year more than ever we are strengthening our working relationships to provide the extra guidance and reassurance the economy needs to recover.

Step 1

Setting your business realistic targets and timescales is the first priority. Everybody in the business needs to know where you want to go. This includes being transparent with your whole team about the impact that the pandemic, and possibly Brexit as well, has had on the business. Everybody needs to be very clear about the current situation but equally as well informed about the targets and their roles in achieving that target.

 Step 2

The targets you are setting are likely to be as a result of 2020 successes or, for example, as a result of highlighting a new market or niche due to changes. What momentum from 2020 can you build on? If it wasn’t a direct success that you may recognise, possibly consider looking at areas of your business that suffered the lowest impact? Where were the successes that can be expanded to gain maximum benefit to help achieve your targets?

So, I can happily share that a big achievement for Baker Leasing in 2020, that was not in the 2020 business plan originally, was our ability to have all team members work remotely from home as necessary. This meant some investment in technology as well as the whole team learning new skills. This was not a success we were aiming for, but a great success none the less and one we are looking to build on.

Step 3

It is important to evaluate the gap between where you are now and the targets you have set Now that you know where you want to go, and you know what skills and resources already at your disposal, you can see where there are gaps to be filled.

It is time to seek the support, guidance and expertise needed to supplement your business. You are not alone and should make a point of surrounding yourself with trusted individuals, mentors or other supporting businesses that can partner with you.

Baker Leasing are just such a company who have exactly this role to hundreds of businesses. For our customers we serve the role of helping achieve the desired investments through arranging finance to avoid capital expenditure on any business asset. For the IT resellers we are a finance partner. In this case we work with the directors and sales teams to help them achieve increased sales. By offering a finance/leasing option with every quote they provide to their customers they not only close more sales, they also increase the average deal value as budgetary objections are then negated.

Step 4

Review, review, review! It is vital to continually monitor the results against the targets you have set. Breaking down targets into monthly, even weekly goals can not only make the challenge seem more manageable but also allow for celebration and acknowledgement of success. It is important to recognise when plans need to adjusted, methods changed or even targets altered; but it is equally important to balance this with allowing enough time to see the true impact of an idea.

Summary

The key to success in 2021 is going to be taking baby steps, one day at a time. It would be naive to think we will wake up one day and the economy will bounce right back. However, it would also be negligent to sit back and passively feel like the victim. The SME sector is built on entrepreneurship and it is this skill set that is going to help the economy recover. Try new approaches. Ask for others advice, opinions and support. Give such help willingly when somebody asks for it. Most importantly listen to all advice. You don’t’ have to act on everything you hear, but if 2020 has taught us one thing it is to be adaptable and open to change.