How can you craft a 2021 business strategy that’s designed to compete? By asking yourself a few key questions, for starters. Like, is your business designed to adapt (and then re-adapt)? How effective is your marketing team in anticipating a change in your customers’ needs? And, how can you better engage not just your employees, but the communities in which you serve? We may be seeing a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and no doubt there’s a return to normalcy somewhere out there, but many of the resulting changes are here to stay. So, is your business built to respond and grow to meet consumer demand, or are you still playing it too safe with “business as usual?”
Expert Advice To Guide Your 2021 Business Strategy
Are you crafting a fresh business strategy for 2021? Nexa Receptionists is here to help with some sound advice from a few of our key executives. Scroll down for their tips on questions to ask yourself before mapping out the coming months, as well as guidance on how your company can compete in this “new normal.”
Starting With The Big Picture
Is your business built to adapt—and then to keep adapting?
Meaningful, enterprise-wide change can happen in a fraction of the time previously thought possible. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, only a small portion of our employees had the capability to work from home. It took only six weeks to set-up infrastructure, training and oversight to give 100 percent of Nexa Receptionists’ employees the ability to safely work from home.
A CEO’s advice for business owners
Given the current environment—which is really challenging, to say the least—we need to be bold in actions that make sure our companies continue to flourish. It’s time to leave behind preconceived notions on what’s possible and expand creative thinking. This year should be about perfecting initiatives like work-from-home operating environments. At Nexa Receptionists, for example, we’ve heard loud and clear from team members that they want to retain the ability to work remotely (at least in part) once the pandemic is over. To make this happen, leaders will need to improve technology and processes around how they operate.
Getting Clear On Your Company Values
How can you find opportunity in the unknown?
Be intentional and use pivotal moments to reaffirm, revive and maybe even re-shape areas of business that needed to change because of the pandemic. This mindset helps us not only thrive through uncertainty, but purposefully navigate and push forward when visibility is limited. At Nexa, for example, we never envisioned a 100 percent virtual scenario for our operations, but the pandemic forced us to explore and adopt a new model that’s proven to be successful and perhaps an even better model than the one we had initially created for ourselves.
Designing operations around your company’s values
Our personal and professional lives are now intertwined. We must embrace a new level of humanness, patience and compassion in how we communicate—not only with our team members, but also in our client relationships. It’s been a joy to meet co-workers’ and clients’ children and animals, and just connecting on a much deeper level. Work relationships will become even more “human” and we should continue to promote the idea of being (and celebrating!) our whole unique selves in the workplace—that also means having the courage to have difficult conversation. We’re finally bringing to the forefront important conversations around racial equity and mental health. This needs to continue.
Getting crystal clear about who you want to be for your people and your customers is vital. What values does your company stand for? And how do you embody these ideals every day? How are you holding yourself, your leadership team and employees accountable to it? By answering these questions, you can create a synchronized, high-performing team that’s driven by a shared vision.
Solutions-Focused Marketing Strategies
How effective are you in anticipating your clients’ needs?
The needs of your target market and clients are ever-changing. In sales and marketing, it’s crucial to be as nimble as possible for your clients. This starts by identifying ways in which you can provide better solutions to fit their needs at a particular moment in time. Whether that’s creating a faster onboarding process or introducing a new service offering, the need to be a ‘step ahead’ has never been a bigger takeaway than it was in 2020.
Marketing tips for business owners
It’s easy for a marketing team or organization to get a bit sucked into what’s working, particularly as you navigate uncertain times. But even the slightest bit of complacency can leave you behind the eight ball as your competitors move quickly and the needs of your clients change. Marketers need to be more nimble in how we address changing needs and leave behind any sense of complacency we may have felt last year. The greatest opportunity I see is in identifying additional solutions to better serve your clients. You may have a core offering, but it’s likely you do even more than that. Where are there greater opportunities to serve, either through technology or additional product offerings?
Your Biggest Competitive Advantage Is Your People
Kenya Gillespie, Director of Strategic Business Initiatives
Have you taken time to acknowledge your staff’s resilience?
COVID-19 has shown itself to be an enormous stressor—for our clients, our employees and our companies. One theme comes to mind: Survival of the fittest. The unspoken strategy for 2020 was to prevail. In retrospection, I am awed by the resilience of the workforce. Time and again, people showed up for their clients and customers. Employees are among the many unsung heroes of 2020. Adaptability and perseverance evidences the criticality of these intangible qualities to the success of any business. The biggest lesson is the renewed realization that people are your competitive advantage. Last year provided an excellent refresher course.
How businesses can engage employees and serve their communities
While the disruption of COVID-19 continues, there are two opportunities that come to mind. Internally, great opportunities surround overcoming the connectivity challenges presented when working in a remote environment. No, I’m not talking about the internet connection. It’s our people connections that will be at the forefront of 2021 diversity and inclusion initiatives. The inability to interact socially has taken its toll on many team members—physically and emotionally. A top priority should be to ensure you’re creating opportunities for team member engagement, collaboration, teamwork and connection.
Externally, opportunities lie in ensuring organizations’ social footprints positively impact the communities they serve. At Nexa Receptionists, our 2021 commitment includes collaborating with major suppliers to ensure our orders are sourced from certified minority-owned businesses when available, for example, and partnering with minority-owned recruiting firms to ensure diversity in our candidate pools. Finally, we’re also making donations to local organizations whose outreach programs target minorities, at risk youth and the economically disadvantaged.
A Flexible Budget Will Help You Strike At The Right Time
Are you prepared to test assumptions?
Developing financial forecasts and plans with an emphasis on flexibility is more important than ever. In our current economic environment, it’s really not a question of how well you can predict the future in a fairly stable environment, but of how wildly off from reality your assumptions will turn out to be. For example, entering 2020, none of us started our budget assumptions with, “and then the U.S. economy shuts down due to a global pandemic!” Creating models that can be easily flexed to test a wide range of assumptions is important, as is leaving a lot of room for downside against banking covenants, cash restriction, etc.
Business financial planning for 2021 and beyond
This isn’t the year to build a budget that runs close to your limits—leave lots of room for surprises. Being ready to swing hard at the right pitch—and waiting for that moment—takes preparation and discipline. With the degree of economic uncertainty we’re all seeing in early 2021, changes can come rapidly.
Whether it’s the right acquisition target suddenly presenting itself, or an overnight reopening of in-person conventions that enable relationship-based selling again, companies that have the financial reserves ready to spend at the right times will have a distinct advantage. Now, 2021 also isn’t the year to just hunker down (that was 2020!), but be ready to strike and look for opportunities to move faster or more strategically than your competitors.