It’s that time of the year again. We are all getting ready for the year ahead. Taking in learnings from our experiences last year to planning and preparing for success this year. While 2020 will notably be recorded as the year of unrivalled hardship it has also made many businesses realise that they either needed to sink or swim. We’ve taken some of these learnings and we’re sharing it with small business owners to help them survive and thrive in this economy. The list is by no means limited to what we’ve mentioned below so feel free to share your opinion too.

Here are some of the business tips to help you develop your business.

Step out of your comfort zone.

It’s safe to say that the traditional approach to running a business has been thrown out the window……not all of it, but most of it! With lockdown restrictions, safety precautions and change in consumer behaviour we can expect that the saying “business as usual” no longer exists. As an SME you can try to be open to new approaches, testing alternate products or use sample sizes to rollout trials – these can help your business grow into its next phase.

Adjust your business model for 2021.

Companies are stepping out of their comfort zone and trying to adapt their business approach to survive. Beauty companies started producing PPE equipment whilst the local tuck shop owner started making masks. Other businesses quickly switched to a form of E-commerce by selling their products or services online whilst others simply closed their doors and waited for the President to relax the lockdown level. No matter the size of your business, every owner had to adapt to survive. Be agile enough to adapt to the new norm. Make calculated risks through calculated decisions and you’ll find that you’ll be setting new goals with what you’ve learned.

Find your audience and get to know them.

We all like to think that we know who our audience is, but more often than not, this is not the case. Take some time out to research your customer. This will help you understand them better and be able to create suitable and relatable communication and offerings for them. By knowing your audience, you save time and money by providing the right product to the right audience. Remember, customers continuously evolve so make a regular effort to keep up with them.

Use data to help you understand your customers.

There are many reporting tools available to businesses and individuals today. You can easily track your advertising effectiveness and measure your sales thereof. Then, you can close the loop between the two which can enhance your strategy. Use this data to understand what customers like, what they don’t, what they’re interested in, where they’re coming from and so much more. You can then use those insights to develop your business strategy which helps you grow as a company. The effects of COVID-19 resulted in a major change in consumer behaviour patterns. The businesses that use data to make decisions are in a better position to quickly adapt to these needs and deliver on them thus placing them right in the customers sight.

With the current economic conditions and the COVID-19 impact, many of your clients and suppliers have taken serious financial strain. You will have to assess and see whether your supplier can still supply you timeously, if at all. If you are concerned about their delivery to pay, don’t make upfront payments. Rather pay when you collect, if you are not lucky enough to have payment terms with them.

The same for your clients. Are they still financially stable? Will they be able to pay you for your good or services? Are they going out of business? Try to get shorter payment cycles or look at taking out credit guarantee cover. If you can’t get cover on them maybe they should be paying you on delivery or even paying a deposit.

In both the supplier and client situation, relationships are important and a call to your contact there could quickly tell you whether you have anything to be concerned about.

Build a great team.

You often hear the saying that people do not work for companies, they work for leaders. Customers are constantly expecting more from smaller businesses given that the stakes are higher for them to prove themselves. Business owners or leaders set the tone in the business. If you don’t act with integrity, fairness, empathy and always excelling in whatever you do, how do you expect the people you lead to display these traits both internally and towards your clients. Train and develop your people, reward them, acknowledge them and most of all make them feel included. This will translate into great customer service and they’ll actively contribute to the success of your business.

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