2021 is finally here! And while this year may still hold some level of uncertainty, it also promises to be one of renewed growth and opportunity for small businesses. Here are our top ten tips to help you come out strong. 

Reflect – From policy to technology, chances are your business had to make some quick pivots in 2020. Now’s the time to evaluate those changes to find opportunities for improvement. Along with your own impressions, take some time to look at the data, as well as feedback from customers and employees to understand what’s working and what’s not. 

Optimize – Once you’ve done some analysis, consider where there’s room for growth. A few small adjustments can help you better capitalize on the systems or offerings you already have in place without the level of effort required to kick off a new initiative. Not sure where to begin? There are a variety of small business resources available to help focus and inspire your efforts.

Aim high – The start of the year is the perfect time to set your annual goals, both for yourself and your business. While 2020 left many feeling cautious, even distrustful of the economic outlook, moving forward, a little optimism will go a long way in helping to re-energize your team and reinvigorate your customer base. 

Double down on digital – There’s no going back to the pre-2020 business landscape. Even before last year’s accelerated digital transformation push, a seamless web experience, personalized service, and omnichannel reach were a must for consumers. And these expectations will only continue to rise. This year, challenge your business to take steps to increase your online presence, improve your SEO ranking, and optimize user experiences for both web and mobile.

Reconnect – Whether it’s with coworkers or customers, friends or family, periods of change can make it easy to lose touch with one another. Why not take some time to reach out to those you haven’t heard from in a while? Kick off the new year with some reengagement emails or a customer appreciation campaign. Hold some virtual reunions for employees or business partnerships. And, of course, don’t forget to prioritize time with loved ones on a regular basis. 

Innovate – As we learned from the last major economic disruption in 2010, those businesses that came out on top were those that dared to do things differently. Despite the challenges of the last year, now is no time to hold back (or go back) when it comes to innovation. Make a commitment to look for opportunities in unexpected places, stay open to new ideas, and be willing to try new things in 2021.

Practice patience – We’re all eager to ring in a new year of growth, prosperity, and good-old-fashioned normalcy. But, we can’t expect transformation over night. Whether you’re working to safely scale up in-person experiences, exploring new product offerings, or breaking into a new market, remember, change takes time. Stay patient, stay dedicated, and results will follow.

Give back – Consumers, particularly among younger generations, are increasingly driven to support businesses that put something positive back into the world. Consider how your business can connect in a more human way to your customers by strengthening your mission statement, supporting your community or raising awareness for important causes.

Embrace change – While we hope the levels of disruption experienced in 2020 will be remembered as the most significant of our lifetime, we can be certain that small changes will continue to impact our lives and our businesses. Making the effort upfront to build a culture of open communication, agility, and resilience will make it easier to identify and respond to changes as they arise in the future.

Cheers – Last but certainly not least, be sure to take some time to celebrate. This past year has been a stressful one for small businesses, but the challenges only make your accomplishments more meaningful. Give yourself credit for all you achieved under these unprecedented circumstances. Be sure to express your gratitude to your hard-working teams and loyal customers. Then brush the dust of 2020 off your shoulder and set your eyes on the prize — a brand new year is waiting!