Last year presented unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere and caught many unprepared for what lockdowns and changing customer patterns would bring. Now, as small business owners look to 2021, they are wiser, more resilient, and more determined to survive the pandemic.
From restaurants to law firms to florists, small business owners share their resolutions as they look to the challenges and opportunities of the year ahead.
Increase spending on marketing
Thanks to pent-up demand and less competition from other fitness facilities due to closures, Carol Nalevanko, president of the Village Health Clubs & Spas in Arizona, anticipates better than pre-pandemic membership sales in 2021.
She resolves to focus on rebuilding and strengthening the membership base, planning to "spend the same, if not more, marketing dollars than were budgeted in 2020" to reach targets.
To achieve this resolution, she anticipates, "member referral campaigns will remain our number one avenue for obtaining new club members."
In an effort to retain members who have kept their memberships active during the pandemic, she's also planning on "bringing back small, safe social activities like wine tastings, cooking classes, and hikes."
For Jessica and Philip Miller of Colony Cocktails, a wine-based drinks business in Middleburg, Va., the New Year will start with a deep dive to identify shortcomings.
After they understand what they could be doing better, they'll identify a way to proactively address those concerns moving forward. For their business, "advertising and e-commerce are critical to expanding product reach."
The next steps will involve strategizing ways to increase awareness and sell more products. Without a doubt, those strategies will include using virtual platforms and social media to host virtual tastings.
For the owner of a small law firm in California, Jessica Smith Bobadilla, the New Year will be about streamlining costs associated with running her business.
Rather than overextending her resources, she will not be "committing to new long-term contracts for equipment or outside services through vendors." She also plans to find a dual accounting and payroll company instead of contracting separately for these services.
Invest in people and focus on the customer
"We feel especially in these times our staff is the most important resource because they are the why in what we do, and investing in our staff is paramount," says Chip Mulala of Huss Brewing Company in Tempe, Arizona.
Also, because the pandemic has so significantly changed consumer behavior, Mulala plans to direct a significant amount of resources toward developing their grocery and retail segment.
Become more tech-savvy
If the pandemic has brought anything to light for many small businesses, it's the weaknesses in their online and tech capabilities.
"Our ultimate goal is to have a central dashboard where we can, at a glance, determine how our day, month, or year is progressing," says Florida florist Justin Hoffman.
Hoffman's resolution is to become more tech-savvy in 2021. In the florist trade, "tracking sales and inventory can be tricky, and we want a better view of business as a whole."
He also plans to invest in website management and to implement an online ordering system for his business.
Learn to say no
In a year when so many businesses are scrambling to make up for lost customers, Brigette Young, owner of a California marketing agency, has an unexpected resolution.
"My biggest goal for the year is actually to turn away business," says Young. "That may seem counterintuitive (especially in a recession), but after having this business almost five years, I realize that sometimes, the best thing I can do is say 'no' when a client isn't a good fit. And especially if they don't have the right budget or attitude to achieve the results that they expect."
Back to business as usual?
While the pandemic challenged even the savviest business owner to pivot and adapt to a new way of doing business, this new year looks in many ways like any other. As owners embark on a brand new quarter, questions of reducing costs, serving customers better, and adapting to market demands remain at the top of to-do lists.
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