2020 was the most trying year many businesses have ever seen. The global pandemic and ensuing economic collapse were disastrous for countless businesses and a major setback for many more. Now that a new year is getting underway, take some time to set up your business for success in 2021. Here are some good ways to start.

1. Create or Review Your Client Database

If you have a client database, review it. Make sure it is up to date and that all information is current and relevant. Touch base with clients and get a feel for their current positions and make notes and adjustments accordingly. This is especially advisable for B2B companies, since many of their business clients may have downsized or even closed due to the current economy. The more you know about your clients, the better you can serve them and keep them happy, which means putting your own business in a better position.

If you do not have a client database, consider creating one.

As Steve Milano at Chron.com Small Business explains, "If you can use a simple spreadsheet, you can create a valuable and powerful business tool for managing your business's clients. A client database can be more than just a list of customers’ names, titles and contact information. Using a variety of codes and headings, you can quickly sort a client database to help you create different lists for different uses."1

You can use this data to help you make decisions and focus your efforts where they will benefit you the most.

2. Plan a Monthly Email Message

Communication is more important now than ever before as the pandemic causes shutdowns, reopenings, changes to operations, etc. If you don't communicate with your customers, they may not know if and when you are open for business. Plan a monthly message that you can send to your email list to let customers know what's going on with your business. You can use this to keep them informed about events, promotions, changes to hours or location, or any other information you deem to be worth sharing.

Sending a planned message on a consistent and scheduled basis will help you stay on top of communication and transparency without requiring extra motivation to put a message together at a more random time. Assign one person the task, and stick to the schedule. 

3. Research New Ways to Reach Clients in the Digital World

If you're used to in-person business interactions and are not so web-savvy, you may need to spend time researching new ways to reach clients digitally. Your email messaging is a great starting point, but that shouldn't be the extent of your online efforts. Get more acquainted with social media best practices.

Even if you've taken the time to set up a Facebook page and update it occasionally, it's time to take that platform and others like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. seriously and learn how to use these to market and sell effectively.

Countless free resources on the web can help you do this, including articles, podcasts, software, videos, courses, etc. Take time to learn and increase your ability to work better for socially distancing clients and customers.

4. Connect with Your Local Chamber of Commerce

If you aren't connected with your local Chamber of Commerce, consider joining. Chambers can be great resources for making business contacts, getting referrals, staying up to date on important local business news, and lending credibility to your business.

You may even be able to save some money. As Kaylee Dewitt at the Patriot Small Business Blog says, "By joining a chamber of commerce, you can gain discounts on many of your business needs. You can get discounts on insurances, office supplies, shipping, marketing, accounting software, and payroll services."2

5. Create or Optimize Your Online Shop

Now is also the time to create an online shop if you haven't already. Even if you are keeping a physical location open, a lot of people are avoiding going into public places as much as possible. Give them the option of giving you their business from the comfort and safety of their own home.

If you do have an online shop, spend some time making sure it's in good shape. Is it user-friendly? Do pages load quickly? Is all relevant info available and easy to find? Is the checkout process simple? Is it easy to pay with a variety of payment methods?

The New Year is a time for reflection about what worked and didn't work in the previous year, as well as a time to look ahead and make improvements. Set up your business for 2021 in a world susceptible to pandemics and the obstacles that accompany them. Put your business in better shape to take on future trials and tribulations with lessons you learned this past year.

 

1. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/make-client-database-small-business-59704.html

2. https://smallbusiness.patriotsoftware.com/chamber-of-commerce-membership-benefits-small-business/

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC