Another year is drawing to a close. And hasn’t it been a doozy?!?
COVID threw us all another curveball just as we were thinking we got away lightly in 2020.
For many business owners, 2021 did not go as hoped or planned. COVID presented us with so many challenges:
- Operating under lockdown and restrictions
- Taking care of staff financially, physically and emotionally
- Managing cash flow
- Going digital
- The fatigue that comes from making decisions under so much uncertainty.
Some businesses stalled, while others found new opportunities.
Working with small-medium businesses across a range of industries, we have seen that there are some shared lessons learned from 2021 that are going to shape the way many businesses move into 2022. And what we also see is that, despite the difficulties COVID has created, there is a silver lining. There are many positive outcomes coming from people needing to do things differently.
Here are the five key takeaways from 2021 that we think will have a big impact on businesses in 2022.
You CAN change how your business operates
Almost every business owner has needed to take a hard look at their business this year. They have been forced to think differently about how they operate. Long-held assumptions about how things need to be done have been swept away. People are reassessing how much time they should and want to spend in their business. Online tools and remote/flexible working have created opportunities to change where work gets done, how it is done and who does it.
Overall, there is a greater willingness (or need) to re-design businesses and work to better suit owners, staff and customers.
You need to know your numbers
When something unexpected happens to your business - a new competitor entering the market, losing a key customer, a supplier increasing prices or a global pandemic - the key to managing it well is to have your finger on the pulse of your business finances.
Understanding the financial health of your business helps you make more informed, timely and better decisions. It lets you act quickly to manage risks and take advantage of opportunities without putting undue pressure on your business. You need to have your books up to date. You need to know how your business is performing. You need to know your profit margin and the key expenses that impact it most.
You need to make decisions about how to manage, protect and improve your business. You can't do that confidently if you don’t know where your finances are at right now.
You get more flexibility by outsourcing
With the impact of COVID on cash flow, a big focus for many businesses this year has been cost reduction. When your revenue channels are squeezed, watching your business leak money is devastating.
So, business owners are seeking ways to minimise their expense liabilities. The advantages of outsourcing have come back into focus. With the rise of outsourcing models based on a ‘pay for what you need’ philosophy, business owners are taking advantage of the flexibility to dial their outsourcing services up and down to match their business cycles.
Without the overheads associated with an employee, outsourcing also allows a business to plug holes more quickly and cheaply, and for as short or long a period as they need. As we approach the Christmas/New Year holiday period, businesses that have shifted towards outsourcing are also benefiting from lower annual leave/holiday obligations while they are shut down or have reduced income.
You need access to the rights skills and expertise
As businesses have come under so much pressure, and hard decisions have been made, it is so important to know you can rely on the tribe of people in and surrounding your business. This doesn't just mean having employees with the right skills. It means your bookkeeper, your suppliers, your contractors, your web designer, your mechanic. It means building a support network for your business filled with people who share your values, are a good fit for you and your business, and have the best interests of your business at heart.
And, in turn, you need to look after these people and nurture positive working relationships that deliver mutual benefit.
If sourcing the right skills or right fit is a challenge, then outsourcing can offer a short term solution to plug gaps while you find someone in-house. Or it can be a highly valuable and profitable long term solution to accessing expertise you might not be able to attract or develop in-house.
You need to own your digital presence
With COVID lockdowns and restrictions pushing us all online even more, having a solid digital presence for your business is critical. You need a well designed and user friendly website, and you need to be consistently posting and engaging on at least one social media platform. Because your potential and current customers are going online to find products and services, and to get to know who a business is and what they are all about. Your digital presence is often the first experience they have of your business and your brand, so you need to take ownership of that.
Building your social media presence can deliver quick wins and high value. It is an important tool for communicating with your customers about how they can interact and buy from you. It gives you the opportunity to build brand awareness, engage with people and keep your name front of mind. But it doesn't have to be an expensive marketing exercise. With a basic skill set and making use of market leading apps you can develop the capacity in-house. Or, you can gain the cost and flexibility advantages of handing your social media management over to an outsource service provider.
What changes do you want to make in how your business operates moving into 2022?
If you want to find out more about how outsourcing your business administration, bookkeeping or social media can help you manage and grow your business next year, book in for a free, no obligation chat with our Managing Director Tennille Skelly.