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If you’re waiting for this year to end and hoping that things will go back to normal next year, you’re not alone. But you’re also wishing for something that most likely won’t happen. If your small business goal for 2021 is for things to go back to normal, we’re here to help you reevaluate.

You may not be able to run your business exactly according to your plan next year. While we can plan and predict how the ecommerce industry will change and adapt next year, there are still many changes we may not be able to predict. Small business planning for the upcoming year is now more important than ever. Knowing your business, your audience and setting a few goals for your business can help you adapt quickly should any changes arise.

Here are five ways you can set goals for your small business for 2021.

1. Review Your Year in 2020

The best place to start your strategic business plan is with your year in total. Review your 2020 sales, customers and costs. Which months did you see a boost? Which products sold the most? Paying attention to how your business performed in the past year will help you get started with setting goals for the upcoming year.

Your review will help provide direction for where to start when it comes to a new sales strategy or bringing on new products.

2. Prepare a SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Performing a SWOT analysis on your small business may seem daunting, but it’s worth the time and the deep dive to help with your year-end review.

After reviewing a few key metrics for your business, your SWOT analysis can help you set goals that are structured and measurable.

An example SWOT analysis for a small clothing boutique may look like this:

Strengths: A loyal clientele and strong word of mouth marketing.

Weaknesses: While your store is online, you lack a few things when it comes to understanding your online space and how to maximize your presence. You also feel as though you lack the time to truly dive in and dedicate the time needed to grow your presence.

Opportunities: You have space to grow when it comes to expanding and optimizing your online presence.

Threats: Another small clothing boutique down the road has a strong online presence already.

Now that you have your SWOT analysis prepared, it’s time to dive into your goals and how you can achieve them.

3. Optimize Your Online Presence

If you’re not online yet, let 2021 be the year you launch your online presence. If you’re looking for resources on where to start, check out our post on how to transition your business to ecommerce.

If you’re already online, 2021 can be the year you focus on optimizing your online presence. In 2020, ecommerce as a whole saw a 30% increase in growth in the first half of the year compared to the year before. The pandemic’s impact on small businesses and large retailers alike was harsh, with several large retailers filing for bankruptcy. As stores were forced to close temporarily because of statewide lockdowns, several businesses launched new initiatives to keep serving customers. Curbside pickup as an option provided by stores increased by 6.9% compared to the end of 2019.

The coronavirus’s impact on businesses has also impacted consumer behaviors. A study from Shopify shows a few key drivers that compel consumers to make a purchase online. The study shows that 63% of consumers prefer delivery direct to home, 57% are looking for cheaper prices, and 54% are looking for a more convenient way to shop.

If there’s one topic to focus on for your online store, it should be to make the shopping experience from beginning to end more convenient for your customer. To get started, take a look at a few Shopify shipping apps we recommend.

4. Find One New Market or Audience

In order to grow your business, you don’t always have to find more customers. But in order to keep scaling, you’ll eventually have to make a few changes to your business. Based on the trends from the Shopify study above, your 2020 business review, and your SWOT analysis, identify one new market or new audience group you can expand into.

Since shopping behaviors have changed and will continue to change, your new audience may already have made its way into your sales. If you’ve noticed an uptick in sales from a particular industry, this may be your chance to bring on a new product or create a new section on your store dedicated to this customer group.

5. Support Your Employees

Good employees are valuable to small businesses and can be costly to replace. It can pay for your business to keep your employees in key roles, especially as you plan to scale your business.

If you can, change up the benefits you offer to fit your employees’ needs. Some benefits can include flexible schedules, work-from-home options, extra sick leave or home office supplies and setup help.

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