Participants at Vanguard Economic Forum Series on MSMEs

By Emeka Anaeto

For most businesses 2020 has been a year of survival rather than long-term planning. For the Chinese business magnet, Jack Ma, if you stayed alive at end of 2020 you have already made profit.

So while the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which wiped out the year is still very much in the play, now is the best time to start thinking and planning how to best position your business for the future.

The immediate future is 2021 which is just two months away. It is the year of recovery from whatever loss that happened in 2020.

Between COVID-19 business disruptions, economic downturn and rising inflation coupled with civil unrests and strife, a lot of service entrepreneurs are feeling the strain.

At the backdrop of the trauma of 2020, one should get into a mindset of a relief that a new year will be here pretty soon, offering something of a fresh start. While there are no guarantees as to what 2021 will bring, there is still ample opportunity to start planning for a stabler, more prosperous, possibly even more normal year.

So what should trade service entrepreneurs know about developing their 2021 business plans? The first important piece of advice is not to delay. In fact, starting your 2021 planning now may actually help you finish 2020 in a relatively strong place. That’s because it will help you shift from the short-term thinking and let’s-just-survive mode in which most of us have spent the last several months. Instead, 2021 business planning will help you shift your focus toward long-term goals and objectives.

In other words, you can stop thinking tactically and start thinking strategically, positioning your company to thrive over the long haul.

Engage Reality

You may not be crazy about the current state of your business, or about what you see in your most recent financial statements. By all means, start developing a plan to rebound in 2021. But as you do so, make sure you acknowledge the current concerns: This has obviously been an unprecedented year that’s left a lot of businesses in a weird place, and there’s no point in pretending otherwise.

Techniques like the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis can help you pinpoint some of the areas where your business is struggling right now, while also looking ahead to some opportunities for growth in the months to come.

Calculated optimism

There is reason to hope things will look a little better in 2021, but don’t overdo it with your optimism. Most of the financial forecasts show some modest growth, and you’ll probably want to keep your expectations in check with some conservative predictions.

Yes, you can and you should plan for your business to bounce back from a brutal 2020. But you probably shouldn’t plan on it roaring back to life as soon as the calendar page is turned.

Don’t Forget Your People

A final tip: Make sure your 2021 business plan isn’t merely about the bottom line. Yes, you obviously need to maintain profitability, but one of the best ways to do that is to make sure your employees have everything they need to succeed. As you look at your plans for the coming year, be sure you’re accounting for things like mental health benefits, supportive company culture and beyond.

This year hasn’t been great, but that’s all the more reason why entrepreneurs might want to start looking ahead right now to 2021, and to the chance to get things at least a little bit back on track.



Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.