We made it to 2021! After the rollercoaster of 2020, fueled by the agony and uncertainty of Covid-19, a new year is upon us. While much difficulty remains, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. This year will be similar to 2020, and small and medium-sized businesses will need to continue being creative to stay afloat in this new world. Thankfully, this drive toward innovation is ramping up what we at Crowned have been advocating for since our inception. Here are some ideas for small businesses to keep in mind going forward. 

Brainstorm Revenue Streams

Now more than ever is the time to put heads together to figure out how to stay relevant. That means thinking about ways to bring your product to your customers, from tangible items to digital products. If you’re used to leading in-person training, plan ways to take your classes online. If you have a lull in your consulting business, create ebooks and guides to sell on social media. Figure out ways to collaborate with other small businesses to drive revenues across the board. Offer freebies, webinars, or beef up your newsletter to stay relevant. 

Broaden your Digital Footprint

So many small and medium-sized businesses have a minimal online presence. They haven’t updated their website since 2009, and while they might have social media accounts, they never log into them. Invest in your website, social media, and email marketing in 2021. These aspects can be overwhelming, but thankfully there are heaps of tools that can make building your digital footprint easier. This is an investment area; you are laying a foundation for your business by creating a thoughtful online presence. 

Be Agile

The best part of being small is that you can make changes quickly if you’re agility-minded. As a small business, it’s fundamental to make necessary changes. Try not to get bogged down by the same old routine, and think about ways to pivot if you need to change things up. Getting stuck in your own mind as a small business leader can be devastating for your business, so be sure to think outside the box and use all your resources (and your team!) to evaluate what’s important. 

Learn E-Commerce Now

Creating an e-commerce presence is a no-brainer. If you aren’t working toward selling direct, you’re missing out on revenue. This goes hand-in-hand with much of what we’ve already discussed, but can be a challenge to roll out. Thankfully, a lot of website builders include e-commerce right out of the box. If you are working on a more a la carte platform, here’s a resource to help you get started

Be a Thoughtful Leader

These are challenging times for all, and leadership is harder than ever to navigate. Just getting out of bed is a feat of greatness for many more people than you might think, thanks to the Covid Blues. As a leader, think about ways you can be more thoughtful and support your team. This might mean giving paid time off for a long weekend, sending a Covid-fatigue care package, or even just the simple act of asking how everyone is really doing. Try to connect on a human level with your staff and reap great loyalty and better productivity. It’s also vital to also take care of yourself. As we all remember from the days where we used to fly, you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others. Check out our “Another Self Care Blog” for ideas on this front. 

Get Help

Thankfully, if all of the above is just way too much, you can get help! Digital consultants, like yours truly at Crowned, are the juggernauts of helping to make your business thrive, even in uncertain times. We can help you plan your strategy to digitization, e-commerce, and staying on top of your customer relationships with one-on-one help and support, as well as handy guides on how to make the magic happen from our new Digital Library. 

Plan Infrastructure, Analytics, & Customer Care

It’s always, ALWAYS, an excellent idea to improve and enhance your digital infrastructure (think CRM, email service providers, your website), because your infrastructure ultimately makes your relationships with customers better. You may need to be a bit more communicative with customers and clients who want quick answers. They may be glued to their phones and computers, as so many are now, working from home with little divide between work and home life. They will remember and appreciate the human touch. Times of crisis can bring people together (or drive them apart) in ways that “normal times” don’t. Investing in these areas now is a way to plan for the long game. Another important aspect is staying connected to your customers via analytics. Data is every small business’s best friend, that is if you are actually looking into what KPIs, email marketing, Google analytics, and other metrics say about your business. Use your tools and stay curious about trends! 

Tap Your Local Scene

Small businesses need to band together right now for maximum effect. Why not figure out ways to work with your local BBB, schools, religious organizations, community centers, grocery stories… the list goes on and on. Building these relationships now will be yet another way to sure up your foundation for business stability in the future, and you might even make a new friend along the way!

Silver linings? 

Discipline is key now more than ever. While having something to motivate is great for inspiration, the focus of discipline is ultimately what will drive you forward in your small business. Be as specific as possible with your goals; it’s important to make small, reachable targets for yourself in times like this to keep yourself going and not succumb to burnout. Making attainable goals will help you feel in control, set expectations, and help to balance your work with your home life. 

I certainly know how difficult it is to stay positive during uncertainty, and it won’t be possible to be upbeat all the time. That said, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. Rest more than usual, eat good food, meaningfully connect with your family and friends, try to do something you are passionate about, and try not to let the apocalyptic nature of it all drag you down into the muck. And if you do find yourself eyeballs deep in the darkness, reach out and talk to someone.