New Year’s Resolutions For Entrepreneurs And Small Businesses At The End Of A Very Tough Year

Planning ahead for 2022

Let’s not forget, quarter 4 is also about planning ahead for the coming year and whether 2022 brings the first normal year since 2018 like we all hope, or we have another year of lockdowns and uncertainty, there is plenty to consider in terms of marketing. Don’t leave it to the last minute, get a solid strategy for 2022 together before the end of the year so you can hit the ground running in January!

We’re not saying you have to have every single marketing activity for 2022 sorted out before the end of the year, but the next couple of months are when it is best to:

– Set out goals for the coming year and layout key areas for attention

– Decide budgets

– Bullet point your main activities for the coming year

– Set targets and benchmarks for measuring success

This will set a solid foundation for creating any marketing strategy for 2022. So, where to start…

1. Plan 2022 Goals

Your review of 2021 goals should have given you a clear picture of at least some of your 2022 business goals. Now’s the time to write them down. Do you need to increase sales? Expand your offices? Hire new employees? Keep a more rigorous inventory count? Institute more thorough training? Reduce costs? Which ones? How? Don’t, of course, rely only on past goals to chart your course. They’re crucial, but not sufficient. Did circumstances or changes in 2021 — beyond COVID-19 — point out a need for new goals? Interest rates, for example, fell significantly in 2020 and have stayed low. Could you get a loan for small business needs or refinance your current funding? Did your tax position indicate you could benefit from a new corporate structure? If your financial statements indicated a need for improvement, how can you improve them? What are the most advantageous ways?

Is your business or sector itself experiencing any changes you need to plan for? What business industries are hot right now? Are your products likely to be increasing in popularity? Staying the same? Experiencing a decline?

2. Develop Action Plans Based on Your Goals

Once you’ve determined your key goals in the new year, devise an action plan for each.

The best goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based). Break each goal down into daily, bite-sized chunks. Pinpoint key metrics you can measure and assess on an ongoing basis. What can you and your employees achieve? How many months or quarters will it take to achieve them?

3. Meet your customers where they are.

In 2020, businesses had to be able to reach their customers at home if they wanted their attention. In 2021, customers were more eager than ever to get out of the house and head to businesses directly. Which of these routes is more likely for 2022? What about the 2020s in general? How can businesses expect to cope with the uncertainty of consumer behavior?

Sticking to your storefront may ultimately cause more trouble than it’s worth. Indeed, Bloomberg reports that the e-commerce industry could be worth over $16 billion by the year 2027, with few signs of slowing down in growth thereafter. There’s nothing wrong with returning to normal for a while in the next few quarters. However, don’t bet too much on brick-and-mortar making a long-term comeback. Make your way to the cloud; your customers will be waiting for you there. 

Consider offering a hybrid option. You would be accommodating both customers who want a traditional in-person experience, and those who prefer to do things virtually. Be sure not to neglect the latter in favor of the former, though. Doing so is equivalent to adopting a business strategy far too near-sighted for long-term success. 

4. Adjust to new social media practices.

Social media usage is booming across all platforms. However, that doesn’t mean you can just post-traditional content and expect higher levels of engagement than before. As users grow, social media trends and practices evolve. The posts that accrued big engagement in 2018 will probably not make the same kind of splash in 2021. 

This is perhaps most true in the ever-growing world of social media influencers. Just a few years ago, they were objects of fascination or derision in most marketing departments. But, businesses dismiss them at their own peril. A Google-commissioned survey from Ipsos found that 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers say that their favorite creator understands them better than their friends — that level of trust and engagement is way more likely to get a customer’s attention than promoted tweets ever will. Don’t let a dynamic business strategy become sclerotic when it comes to social media. 

5. Respond to changing employee priorities. 

It’s not just consumers and markets who have had their trajectories changed by the past year. Your employees have likely undergone a few changes themselves. Quality of life is increasingly privileged over big salaries and flexible work over traditional office setups. 

In fact, attempting to quickly pre-transition to the way things were before may cause quite a bit of consternation among your team. A recent survey from The Morning Consult found that 39% of workers would consider quitting if their bosses forced them to give up remote work and return to the office. This isn’t just true for your current employees either. Prospective hires will also be expecting accommodations when it comes to remote and flexible working options. Businesses too set in their ways when it comes to cubicles and the 40-hour, 5-day workweek risk creating business strategies already out of date. 

6. Think global, stay local. 

It’s an oft-employed maxim that the world is constantly getting flattered, and not in the literal sense. It’s becoming easier all the time to communicate and do business across borders. At least, it was before COVID-19 struck. Disruptions to travel and international shipping meant that businesses once again needed to refocus their efforts on local and domestic markets. 

What about 2022? Should companies bank on the reopening of borders and flourishing of international business or play it safe with nearer markets? Unsurprisingly, the answer is a bit of both.

Don’t abandon your local operations in the hopes that your business’s horizons will broaden in the near future. Instead, continue to nurture any and all existing customer relationships. And, do so while waiting for a good time to begin expansion further afield.

Make sure your business strategy reflects this by emphasizing operations you know can be sustained into the future while probing for potential opportunities down the line.

Anyone who tells you that they know what 2022 will look like is lying. The uncertainty that plagued 2020 and 2021 isn’t going anywhere, and your business strategy needs to be composed accordingly. Prepare your company against whatever may come, and expect solid growth in return. 

Wrapping up

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