If you haven’t seen yet, 2021 is here. Things are fundamentally no different to 2020 – it’s not like we woke up overnight and last year didn’t happen. The threat of lock down is still there. The risk of hiring the wrong person is still there. Customer pressures are still there. Fundamentally, 2021 is very similar to 2020.
This isn’t meant as doom and gloom – simply a statement of where we’re at. So, with no miracle change as the clock struck midnight, how do we tackle the New Year (and looming new Financial Year!)
1. Have a clear plan to build your business.
We look after to neighbouring construction businesses. They’ve got very similar target markets, they’re three streets apart, and the business owners are very similar in age.
One business has tripled in profitability in two years. The other has the same problems they had two years ago – difficulties getting good staff, too much work for the business owner, and tight financials.
Rewind two years and the businesses were identical. One leapfrogged the other simply because they had a clear plan. The plan wasn’t to be bigger for the sake of it – instead, it focused on increasing profitability and changing what the owner spent their time on. It’s seen them change how their teams worked, made their marketing more targeted, and changed how they hire and train their teams.
We put this solely down to (a) the owner having a plan, (b) the owner being exceptional at executing the plan, and (c) the owner letting us hold them accountable to that plan.
2. Have a plan to build a good business.
There’s a common trait amongst all the truly successful businesses we work with – they all try and do good.
Yes, they try and make money. Absolutely. But they focus on doing good and the money flowing from that.
By doing good I’m not meaning throwing money at a charity or giving staff time off to volunteer. They’re not just letting their staff work from home or offering flexi-working. It’s about taking the social licence we’ve been given to run a business and doing the right thing by people.
I’ve spent half of summer thinking about this, so expect a longwinded post another time. In short though, as business owners we need to do more than just pay tax (the Government certainly won’t fix everything). Tradies need to take apprentices, accountants need to educate customers and non-customers alike, corporates need to get people into the CBD to support small business. You get the picture.
3. Look actively for opportunity, for yourself and others
Nothing landed on our laps during lockdown. As business owners we hustled to keep the lights on and keep our teams employed. This hustle was forced on us, but we found a way through it.
The businesses we saw succeeding towards the end of 2020 seemed were those who kept their hustle going.
With Riann heading to Tauranga, we pushed for that to happen (it would have been easy to pull back given a global pandemic). Likewise, we kept our plan to hire a new graduate – it would have been easy to pull back but it would have hurt us in the years ahead through an undertrained workforce. Don’t wait for things to land – keep pushing.
Then there’s people like the construction business we’ve worked with. They’ve hired a new quantity surveyor to make sure they can keep up with the pace of work. The real estate agent who has doubled down on their administration support. The mechanic who refitted their workshop to get cars through twice as quick.
They’ve got a clear direction they’re heading. They understand their financials and know the financial impacts of the changes they’ve made. Then they can make the decision to keep moving with confidence.
4. Who’s around you – make sure you’ve got the right people
Then it’s having the right advice at the same time. Someone who’s been through what you’re facing or has seen other businesses go through a similar situation.
Whether that’s your accountant, a mentor or your spouse. Make sure you’ve got someone who can challenge you on your plans, spot the opportunities (and gaps), and then hold you accountable to hitting them.
A sports team, no matter how good, always has a coach. Who’s coaching and guiding you?
So, what’s going to get you ahead during 2021? Don’t sit back, take it.
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