End-of-Year Business Planning – COVID-19 Edition
After what may have seemed like several years packed into one, 2020 is finally coming to a close. And with that, end-of-year planning is in full swing.
The business landscape looks a bit different than what we’re used to– but that just means end-of-year planning is more critical than ever. Here are some tips you can implement in the coming weeks to ensure your business excels in 2021.
1 – Check in on your employees
Everyone has a unique way of dealing with the stresses of COVID-19. And because of that, some people are handling the situation better than others. With the added pressure of the holiday season, you should check in with your employees. You may be surprised by the impact of showing you care.
If they want to talk about what’s going on in the world, let them. Lending an ear and a shoulder can mean the world. Harvard Business Review details how to really listen to your employees. Just make sure you’re not overwhelming yourself by offering to listen to others. Remember, you are a person too, and you also have to take care of your mental health.
If you are personally struggling with everything that is going on in the world around you, consider speaking to someone about it—platforms like Talkspace and BetterHelp are great resources for this, doubly so during COVID-19, as they are virtual platforms.
2 – Reflect on your year
2020 was certainly a curveball. And whether you hit it out of the park or repeatedly struck out, taking a moment to reflect on the year is a necessary step in planning ahead.
Sit down in your living room, home office, or any other location that makes you feel comfortable. Grab a notepad and pen, or open up a laptop with a word processor, and type everything out. Maybe you’re not sure what to write. Deloitte Insights provides an excellent framework on how to reflect on prior successes and failures. They offer some great questions to ask yourself, such as:
- Where are we improving most rapidly, and how can we do more of that?
- What can we learn from these results?
- What are the implications for how we move differently in the future?
It’s important to also consider how your business was affected by the pandemic and what you can learn from the past year:
- How has our company’s work style changed since March?
- What are we placing value on now, that we didn’t before the pandemic?
- Who has been supportive in helping us get through the year?
If you read our end-of-year post from 2019, you’ll notice this tip sounds familiar– and that’s because we included it then as well. This is something we recommend you do every year to set your business up for growth.
3 – Adjust your revenue goals retroactively
If you saw COVID-19 coming back in January 2020, you must be some kind of oracle. If that’s the case, you probably don’t need these tips! However, for the rest of us that were caught off guard, there was simply no way to predict what was coming.
So why hold yourself to unrealistic standards?
Go back, and evaluate your original revenue goals. Now, adjust them based on what we now know about the pandemic.
- Do you have a business that was heavily impacted by the pandemic? Did you lose out on business? Cut the expectations.
- Did you happen to experience unprecedented growth? You should still adjust expectations accordingly.
Whether the pandemic accelerated, or hurt your revenue– it won’t last forever. So how did you really do?
4 – Make sure all of your tax information is in order
Perhaps the pinnacle of small business end-of-year planning is determining annual tax implications. If you’re a seasoned business owner, 1040s are no sweat, and 4562s are a breeze. Your understanding of business taxes might have changed with the rise of new COVID-related government assistance programs for businesses. If you’re interested in learning about the taxes related to a Paycheck Protection Program loan, for instance, you can read this article by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Even if you do your research online, there’s no replacing a good CPA or lawyer to help you stay on Uncle Sam’s good side next tax season.
5 – Plan ahead for 2021
2021 will hopefully lead to more economic stability that we had grown to love pre-COVID. It can be difficult to project when the effects of vaccines and a new administration will take hold. Speculation isn’t helpful either and can be counterintuitive, as time wondering is time lost.
With that in mind, you still need to evaluate what you need to adjust in your business plan for 2021. Maybe you need more employees, or you’d like to open a second or third location– establish these plans and goals beforehand. You might need to plan for additional expenses to support a remote team or to take your business 100% virtual. No matter what happens, you can always go back and edit these plans.
Bonus Tip – Consider virtual networking with social media
Now, you may have already been networking before COVID-19. But since March, it’s unlikely you’ve taken many lunches with colleagues. However, there is another way to connect with potential customers, and coworkers and stay current at the same time– social media.
Social media usage was up by over 10% in July 2020 vs. July 2019 and still provides ample opportunity for you to connect virtually with business contacts. LinkedIn in particular is a powerful tool you could be using to stimulate small business growth during a virtual era of communication. Lunchclub is another virtual networking resource that has seen increased engagement since quarantine began. It allows you to have one-on-one video meetings with people who share your business interests.
While this list isn’t exhaustive, if you use these tips you’ll be well on your way to starting 2021 full steam ahead. Nobody can predict what next year will bring, But with a little planning, you can make the best of the opportunities that come your way.
* This post is for informational purposes only, not financial advice. Any reference to a web site of another party, does not constitute or imply endorsement.