The idea of “planning ahead” is sure to give business owners all over the country the urge to roll their eyes. After what’s unfolded this year, it can feel like a useless exercise. However, even in the midst of an unpredictable pandemic, there’s still value in formulating a plan.
Strategic Business Planning for 2021
The most successful businesses in the world are always looking ahead. They’re planning for what’s coming next so that they can get ahead of the curve and grow in accordance with an evolving marketplace, changing tastes, and rapidly advancing innovation.
As you look to the future, here are some strategic business planning tips to help you prepare for whatever may lie ahead.
Cast Vision for Remote Working
Remote working has been a growing trend for more than a decade, but 2020 was like dowsing a small campfire in gasoline. The COVID crisis has forced millions of businesses around the world to go remote. And while many companies have done fine with this quick pivot, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time for intentional planning. Most of us are winging it.
Regardless of what your long-term plans are, it’s important that you cast some vision for what remote work will look like in your organization moving forward. In other words, take control and be proactive. Whether you’re forced to do so, or you do it by choice, you’ll be much better prepared the next time your company makes this shift.
Consider Nonmonetary Benefits and Perks
If your business is like most, cash is at a premium right now. Your sales probably took a hit this year, and you’re looking for ways to cut back. Yet at the same time, you have to keep your employees engaged and motivated to come to work every morning.
While superfluous benefits and bonuses have gone out the window for the time being, there are still opportunities to delight your team in the form of nonmonetary benefits and perks. Ideas include more sick and personal leave, flexible work hours, career development resources, and concierge services (like oil changes or laundry pickups).
Look for New Digital Marketing Opportunities
It’ll be interesting to see what direction digital marketing takes in 2021 and beyond. Because with as many changes as there have been in the business world over the past year, digital marketing has continued to innovate at a blistering pace. There has been no slowdown and it’s the organizations that are looking for new digital marketing opportunities that are going to pull ahead.
“Now is also the time to analyze whether you are making the most of your existing marketing channels,” Marcel Digital points out. “For example, are you using paid search? Are you using SEO best practices on all of your website and social media content? Have you explored less common marketing options, such as Amazon marketing, YouTube advertising, or programmatic marketing?”
There are a lot of exciting developments in the digital marketing space. Not all of them will make sense for your business, but it’s important to be aware of the ones that do intersect your strategy.
Get Specific With Contingency Planning
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we really have no control over the future. Even the best laid plans can be eviscerated by an unforeseen event. And while it’s impossible to predict what lies ahead, you can set yourself up well for the future by developing specific contingency plans.
“A contingency is defined as ‘a future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty,’ either on a large scale, such as a natural disaster, or a small scale, such as employee theft,” Lucidchart explains. “A contingency plan is a roadmap created by management to help an organization respond to an event that may or may not happen in the future.
The goal of a contingency plan is not to prevent a future event from occurring – it’s to help your business resume normal business operations in the wake of such an event and to avoid significant disruption.
Directional Yet Flexible
The key to successful business planning and forecasting, particularly in today’s world, is to be directional yet flexible. In other words, you need to strategize and get clear on a specific direction that you’ll take, but you can’t be so firm and resolute in your strategy that you fail to pivot when circumstances call for change.
Flexibility is not a sign of weakness or lack of conviction – it’s a byproduct of intelligence. Keep this in mind as you develop your business plan and as you execute on it in the coming months.