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What is Success in 2021?

March 25, 2021

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How many “Biggest challenges of small businesses” articles have you read in the past six months? 10, 50, 100? There is no lack of information on issues confronting small businesses, particularly post-COVID. But knowing the challenges is not the same as knowing how to solve them. The real challenge, then, is about “how.” How does your business respond?

Strategy.

Small businesses often look at strategy as a big-company luxury, especially this past year when “planning” took a back seat to “survival.” Yet, if you think about it, survival is an outcome of strategy. You planned in order to survive. You had to. The plan was nimble, flexible, and ever, ever changing. But it was still a plan.

As we emerge from a year-long crisis that no one wants to relive, it is time to pause, think, and re-align the team. Some things to consider as you look past the clutter of 2020 toward the opportunities of 2021:

  • Purpose and Mission: This may be a good time to recalibrate (or at least reconfirm) your organization purpose and mission. Does the team know the organization’s direction? Having a clear picture of success (the organization’s “Northstar”) will also provide a framework for future decisions on things like investments.
  • Strategy and Planning: Moving from survival to growth requires a plan; a plan based on creating a competitive advantage. And creating a competitive advantage starts with thinking about the future; a future vision, clear goals, followed by a compelling strategy, and most importantly, crisp execution. The plan can evolve as circumstances require. But no plan means no direction.
  • Input and Feedback: You may think you know what the team is thinking, but if you haven’t asked you probably don’t. Find a way (survey, one-on-one, etc.) to gather insights from the team. This information can feed the plan.
  • Investment: This is investment in time and money. Who will help achieve the organization goals? Successful business need good people and “learning on the job” is only one — often limiting — training and development option. Multiple options exist from the quick and cheap to the extensive and impactful. Knowing what results are important for the organization (established through planning) will help guide these investment decisions.

Businesses – large or small – are merely a collection of people trying to get things done. And getting things done requires alignment on vision, strategy, and execution. Regardless of a company size. There is an opportunity in 2021. Is your organization ready to respond?

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