Businesses bolted into 2020 with firm plans and optimistic outlooks.
All that evaporated by mid-March as the focus turned from thriving to surviving for most companies. Now, as this turbulent year enters its final months, a new question lies just over the horizon.
What will 2021 bring and how can businesses be ready?
“The future still seems so uncertain and the end of the pandemic still feels a long way off, but despite that there is a lot businesses can do to prepare for success in 2021,” says Adam Witty, a successful entrepreneur and the ForbesBooks co-author of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought
Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant.
“I’m sure 2021 will come with its own unexpected twists and turns, but I am also confident there will be potential.”
All the unknowns make planning a challenge, but Witty says it’s possible to begin gathering hints about how the world will operate going forward.
“You just have to know where to look,” says Witty, who also is the founder and CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks.
He suggests business leaders should:
- Review what you learned in 2020. Think about what you did this year to maneuver through the hazards that came your way, Witty says. What worked? What didn’t? What would you do differently? “Use what you’ve learned to get your ducks in order to manage your business in a manner that meets both your and your customers’ needs,” Witty says. “Then, ask yourself what the future may hold and how you would handle whatever comes up.”
- Talk to your best customers. Find out what they want and need, and how they anticipate their lives – or businesses – will look in 2021, especially post-pandemic. “Learn how your product or service will fit into the flow,” Witty says. “Do they want you to continue delivering your product line in some virtual way, or is it important for them to be able to come into your facility for a real sit-down to discuss what they need and view the options in person? Does your solution lie in providing the best of both worlds, offering virtual visits alongside opportunities for physical interaction? Or is the right option something you haven’t yet explored?”
- Look at what your competitors are doing. Review how they are reaching customers and clients today – and whether you can glean any insights about what they may do tomorrow, Witty says.
- Rethink how to use your marketing dollars. In-person events, such as speaking engagements, trade shows, or conferences where you could network with potential customers were put on hold because of the pandemic. They might not return all that soon in 2021, so Witty suggests exploring other options for getting the best use out of the dollars that would have been budgeted for those events. That might mean pitching the media more to land radio or TV interviews, or publishing a book that tells your personal or company story and can be given to current or potential clients.
“Can your business handle the unexpected if something you couldn’t possibly anticipate were to arise, as happened in 2020?” Witty asks. “If the answer is yes, chances are you’re ready to play in a post-pandemic world.”
Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant, is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks. Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.