At this point, it’s fair to say that most of us are ready to leave 2020 behind and see in the New Year. But if you want your business to succeed in 2021, there are five important steps you need to take before you enjoy that NYE countdown.
Llew Jury is one of Queensland’s leading strategists, investors and entrepreneurs. He’s the Chair and Director of digital marketing agency Reload; Managing Director of early stage venture capital firm Sprint Ventures; and Director of HR services company Advancer. He’s a man who understands the importance of planning – especially this year.
“Everybody’s going to have to take stock, because the world has changed,” Llew says.
“Everything’s been disrupted in 2020, and there’s going to be growth that comes from all that disruption in 2021. So while people should have their pedal to the metal right now in terms of finishing off the year strong, it’s also important that they start thinking about next year.”
Here are Llew’s tips for starting 2021 off on the right foot.
Bring in an outside perspective
Llew recommends taking a day, or at least a half-day, for a 2021 planning session with your team – and one voice they’re not used to hearing.
“Bring in an external facilitator,” he says.
“Someone who isn’t working in the business that can help you work on the business. Someone with a different lens and a different slant – they might have a digital focus, a marketing focus or a content focus, but it has to be a different angle to what you do as part of your daily grind.
“If you don’t think you have the time to spend on a strategy session in December, you might find that you miss out on opportunities in January.”
Keep it lean
As important as it is to plan ahead, it’s also important not to overdo it.
“Keep it lean and fast,” Llew says. “There’s no point drawing up a 10-page business plan for 2021 that sits in the top drawer of your desk and gathers dust. You can actually fit everything you need onto a one-page document. The best thing you can do is what’s called a ‘lean canvas’.
“A lean canvas gives you one page to document the problem you’re solving; how you’re going to solve it; how you’re going to monetise that solution; how you’re going to market it; and what it’s going to cost. Most importantly, it requires you to nail down your Unique Value Proposition – why is your company different? Why are you the right company to solve the problem, and why should people stick with you for 2021? A lean canvas is the best methodology for time-poor SMEs and founders to bring that into focus.”
Cash is king
It’s always good to have cash on hand, but Llew says it will be particularly important to be cashed up in 2021.
“Everybody needs to look at cash flow,” he says. “JobKeeper’s winding down, and that will have an impact on the economy. The number one thing I learned from building businesses during the Global Financial Crisis from 2008 to 2010 is that cash is king. Having a large cash balance will give you more flexibility and support your ability to grow.”
Spend on marketing
If you had a rough 2020, you might be inclined to cut costs in 2021 by reducing your marketing budget. But while it might seem counter-intuitive, Llew says now is actually the time to increase your spend.
“This is the time to go for it,” he says. “You should spend more during times like these than you do during ‘normal’ times. It’s about building up your brand and your share of voice – again, if you look at the Global Financial Crisis, the successful companies were the ones that spent more on marketing than they normally would have, and actually amplified their business.”
Similarly, if you had to tighten your belt in 2020, you might not be looking to bring on any new staff in 2021. But Llew says that would be a mistake.
“Now is the time to hire,” he says, “because there are so many fantastic candidates out there who might have been made redundant in 2020 and are looking for new opportunities. It’s actually a great time to hire great humans who can help you grow your business.”