Small Business Advice and Insights
Small business, as we know it, is at a crossroads. Technological advances are happening faster than ever. In 2021, over 25 billion items will be connected through technology (Internet of Things). Freelance or gig workers, mostly Millennials, will make up 40% of the workforce, and we still don’t know when the pandemic will finally be over!
There are too many professional prognosticators trying to predict what life and business will be like in the future. Will automated robots instruct driverless cars to pick up packages dropped off by drones in remote areas for people who don’t have time to do anything with them because life is so hectic? That’s the question for our collective Magic 8 Ball.
Here are some suggestions for my fellow business owners as we continue to navigate uncharted waters.
- Stop worrying about the future! If you are a business owner, focusing too much on the future means taking your eyes off the present. As we continue to battle COVID-19, It is critically important to know where you want to go with your company and how you plan on getting there. This process requires looking at your business “from the clouds.” At 20,000 feet, you can see well into the future, spying the opportunities and obstacles. However, at some point, you need to get back to earth, dive into “the weeds” of your business and deal with the daily and weekly issues affecting it. If you become paralyzed by your view of the future and get stuck in the clouds, it will be a short time before the present runs your business into the ground.
- Utilize more of your existing technology. In a number of surveys among business owners, most admitted to utilizing less than 30% of the existing technology in their companies. It’s akin to buying a big SUV and only using the front two seats. When you invest in technology, commit to learning as much as you can during the on-boarding process in order to take advantage of the product’s features. Otherwise, why invest money into new technology that you won’t use.
- Be Proactive! Chart where you want your company to be at the end of 2021. Are your long-term goals still the same? Even if you change the means (new technology and big data) to your end (specific business goal), if your goals haven’t changed then it’s still the same end! Don’t let shiny new bells and whistles distract you from achieving your goals. In my conversations with business owners, I ask them two critical questions: First, does having access to substantially more information about your customers measurably strengthen your relationship with them? Second, are you willing to commit (and do you have) the necessary resources to meet the requirements for your company’s goals in 2021? The answers to these two questions will help guide your business going forward.
Sometimes life can throw us curve balls that make it nearly impossible to achieve our annual goals (in 2020, we called the curveball COVID); that’s ok, it happens. But, don’t let adversity KEEP you down. Get up, dust yourself off, and ask life “Is that the best you got?” Then get back on your path to success. Don’t forget to enjoy the ride along the way!