Despite the challenges and uncertainties of 2020, businesses can look forward to a successful 2021. With a new purpose and a new set of realistic goals, your business can overcome past challenges and carve a bright future in the coming year.
Here are some habits that you could consider adopting this New Year to make 2021 more productive:
Train your Mind to Focus on What you can Control
In 2020, businesses discovered that they could no longer do many things they used to. There were new rules that prevented owners from executing their business normally.
While some businesses were forced to shut shop, many companies flourished as they adopted a can-do approach. For example, when businesses were asked to maintain social distancing and contactless delivery in 2020, many transitioned to online platforms.
This transition enabled them to conform to governmental regulations while making shopping safer and faster for customers.
When restaurants were prevented from hosting their customers indoors, these businesses moved their environments outdoors, giving customers a different and safer experience.
This can-do approach can apply in other ways:
- Invest in building better customer relationships
- Identify new opportunities to expand your market or to diversify your products
- Focus on improving customer experiences further
- Review existing marketing strategies and re-tune them to prevailing times for maximum reach
The people that you know are the ones who can create great opportunities for your business. So, it pays to invest your time and resources in building contacts. Use professional networking websites and official events such as conferences to identify and establish connections.
Some efficient ways to build your network include:
- Build a list of people you would want in your network. Start with mentor figures, industry experts, peers or colleagues in diverse business domains, and previous bosses. Shortlist 6 people to focus on.
- Schedule a lunch or coffee as the next step.
- Talk to them about their current work and your business.
- Offer to assist with your expertise where needed. Networking works better when you show the value you can bring to the table.
- Explain the guidance and advice you are expecting from the other person.
- Send a thank-you note or call up to thank the person a few days after the meeting.
- Keep in touch with the person regularly to deepen the relationship.
Install a Productivity Management System
Recent productivity research by prialto revealed that 93% of executives were optimistic about their business’s future. One of the critical reasons for this optimism was efficient-building tools such as a productivity management system. 18% of the executives in the survey already had such a plan in place. You can develop your product management system or hire one.
Some standard productivity management tools include:
Time Blocking – This is a time management method in which a day is compartmentalized into blocks of time. A specific task or a set of functions is to be assigned to each time block. The time block is then used to accomplish only the assigned task and nothing else. Time Blocking puts in place a realistic plan for the day. It gives a concrete direction of what and when to accomplish each day. The key to achieving success with Time Blocking is keeping a prioritized list of tasks. Reviewing tasks for the week ahead and prioritizing in advance help inefficient time blocking. With Time Blocking, you get to direct your focus efficiently. In case there is a change of plans, you can always revise your Time Block to re-prioritize tasks.
GTD – GTD is short for Getting Things Done®. This productivity method enables you to organize your thoughts and obtain clarity on tasks that need to be done. The first step in GTD is to collect all tasks, and even ideas that you think need completion. You can record such tasks either by writing or by assembling the list on materials such as post-it notes. Shortlist the tasks depending on their do-ability. If they are doable, then write the next action that needs to be taken up. Organize the tasks as trash, lists that require effort, or tasks that need further thought. Remind yourself of the status of every specific task through constant reminders. Act on the situation and complete tasks that need to be done. Review your studies frequently to assign a different status when required.
Make Money Management a Priority
Money management is crucial to ensure that your business has enough finances to fall back on, if necessary. It pays to have a sound plan in place to manage your finances.
Some tips for sound money management:
- Ensure that your accounts payable is always on time. Payments such as credit card bills and business loan debits must be made within the deadline. Delay in payment settlement can lead to increased interest rates and late payment charges. Regular delays in payments can lower your business’ credit score and damage your reputation among vendors.
- Monitor accounts receivables. Pursue payments that have passed deadlines. Sending invoices and payment delay notes to creditors are common ways of handling pending receivables. If an early settlement is needed, then consider announcing a creditor discount.
- Monitor your spending. Lack of monitoring can lead to funding misuse and overspending. If you have multiple accounts, ensure that you are up-to-date on the status of each account.
- Avoid overspending on your purchases by timing them right. Avoid making purchases when you do not have enough cash on hand.
- Maintain a cash reserve for emergency business needs.
Plan Multiple Strategies to Address Possible Uncertainties Ahead
2020 has set a template for how things can change in the coming years. Use the changes that the business world has witnessed so far as a basis for your strategies.
Anticipate multiple scenarios that you think may be a possibility in the coming years and develop a plan for each. For example, 2020 witnessed an increase in remote working, so you could create a plan to increase remote operations further.
If you are operating multiple product platforms (online, brick and mortar), you could perhaps plan to retain on-demand platforms and open others at a slower pace.
AI is expected to make a giant leap in businesses in 2021. You could perhaps plan on adopting AI for areas that benefit from automation. Training, enhanced customer service at contact points, and collaboration are a few examples.
Having plans in place helps you respond faster when business conditions change and establish a firm footing more efficiently.
Hire the Services of a Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant is an independent company with the expertise to handle administrative tasks. A virtual assistant usually operates off-site, but the company can access your business’s vital operational documents for task completion.
With a virtual assistant, you experience the following benefits:
- A dedicated company for which your business is a priority.
- Faster and more efficient completion of administrative tasks. You have your resources freed up for other critical business tasks.
- A cost-effective strategy that allows you to dedicate your focus toward achieving key business goals.
Review these business approaches and create your strategy to steer your business in the right direction in 2021. Having a realistic strategy in place increases your confidence to tackle challenges head-on, which builds a positive outlook toward the future.