As hard as it is to believe we’re entering the final quarter of 2020, many leaders are starting to plan and assess their budgets and strategies for what could be an unpredictable 2021. While the future for many leaders seems uncertain, this year has undoubtedly taught us that planning to fail is never a good idea. There are a few critical areas of focus every key decision-maker must consider when bracing for an unpredictable future. Here are the 2021 trends business leaders must consider:
Focusing More on Strategic Planning
It’s essential to leaders to get off of the ‘insanity loop” of what will happen next and start to make conscious and strategic decisions based on the current needs of their business – while thinking proactively of what’s to come.
Pivoting your business may mean understanding your customers’ changing attitudes, needs and assessing their spending habits. Our economy’s current instability forces companies to focus more on essential business needs and less on discretionary spending. Planning for your organization may mean diving deeper into Google Analytics to understand website trends, examining social media activity to know where your followers are coming from, and dissecting email campaign outcomes to discern what makes your customers click.
Understanding Financial Metrics
Many small business owners, especially those in the early stages of their company, are usually experts on the products and services they provide to their customers and clients. However, they typically find themselves on shaky ground when it comes to finances. Right now, leaders must understand the essential financial metrics in their business so they can make educated, strategic decisions that will benefit their company for the long haul.
For instance, remote work has caused companies to completely reevaluate what their office looks like and understand what is needed to ensure business continuity. Whether you decide to take a hybrid approach with your team or transition to a 100% distributed team, there must be a plan dedicated to sustaining your workforce, regardless of how they operate. New research reveals that in 2021, fifty-six percent of companies will increase their remote work enablement budgets, while 38% plan to increase their capital investments and 34% plan to increase their day-to-day operating expenses next year. Additionally, many companies have discovered a remote workforce has saved them.
Protecting Yourself with Insurance
As you begin to forecast revenue, review gross profit and net profit, there are many expenses to consider and one area frequently overlooked is insurance. Failing to protect your business with the proper insurance can prove more disastrous than not forecasting the right amount of revenue. Take this time to review your company’s insurance policy. There are several types of insurance you will want to consider, the most popular being liability insurance. Others include directors and officers insurance, errors and omissions insurance, and event cybersecurity insurance, which relates to any sensitive or confidential information your company may house for your internal and external stakeholders. Running a legacy company? A Keyman insurance policy protects your team in case something happens to you. With this policy, they can replace your role to ensure business continuity. While it’s not the happiest thing to think about, it’s necessary for business survival.
Social Media for Business: A Must Have
Most small to mid-sized business owners can attest that social media was easy enough to manage alone at one point. A tweet here or there, a post, or even a video once a week was enough. Well, times have changed.
Since the onset of the COVID-19, the power of the pivot has never been more real. With more people confined to their homes, there’s been a 29 percent increase in time spent on social media, which has forced many small businesses – who once did not prioritize investing in social media before the pandemic – to revisit and rethink bumping into customers via this channel.
Social media has evolved beyond a non-negotiable into a must-have and do. From content creation to increasing your follower count and measuring the success of your social media efforts through analytics, social media now moves at the speed of life. Social media has surpassed the 24-hour news cycle, making it mandatory for businesses to keep up. If you’re a small-to-medium business, the thought of hiring someone to manage your social presence seems lofty at best, and decadently impossible at worst. New research reveals 76% of companies have upskilled in SEO, social media and data analytics since the pandemic.
Even when businesses shut down, the need for online marketing grew. Looking ahead, the need for a social media presence will become a core focus for small businesses for 2021.
Unraveling Emotional Intelligence
We are amid a universal disruption. From COVID-19 to social justice protests, California wildfires, the impending election, and more, leaders are rerouting how they operate in business and run their teams. Organizations face uncertainty with what the future holds, and with uncertainty comes anxiety, fear, and even hopelessness.
If leaders are experiencing this, it’s highly likely their team members are too. Having enhanced emotional intelligence as a leader will become paramount. Providing a safe place for those who need compassion, trust, and empathy will help keep everyone productive and business continuity in check. Having a stronghold on emotional intelligence in leadership will allow the organization’s leaders to bounce back quickly and respond faster while handling the business’s relational and functional needs.
It is impossible to predict how 2021 will shape up when it comes to getting back to business as usual. As leaders continue to grapple with the internal and external challenges faced in current times, many may feel they don’t have the time or the footing to plan for the future. The bottom line is certainty is never guaranteed (even amid a pandemic) when it comes to business. However, there is always vision. Leaders who can lead-day-to-day with confidence in the direction they are going, despite the odds, will emerge from any crisis more resilient and agile than before.