Small Business Lessons Learned to Get Ahead in 2021

If there was ever a year that you learned something as a small business owner, last year was the year. With the pandemic, many businesses were forced to pivot and re-imagine their business plans completely. No one had the experience of what to do when a global pandemic hits. It took flexibility and grit, and a lot of small businesses didn’t survive in 2020.

What did you do with your small business that allowed you to stay in operation during the pandemic? Take a look back on the year and think about the moves you made that were vital to your business succeeding and carrying on when many other small businesses had to close up shop indefinitely. These small business lessons are integral to continuing on and making sure you learn from your 2020 strategies in the future.

Small Business Lessons Learned

Now that you have the year 2020 behind you, look back and think about pivotal decisions that were made to benefit your small business. These small business lessons are some that you want to record so you can remember what worked when you were in a time of crisis. Your list may include:

  1. Step Into Unknown Territory with Confidence

This past year forced many businesses to make changes that weren’t familiar to them in the small business world. Change is scary, and feeling inadequate or inexperienced is even more frightening. But most of the time, that unknown step can turn out to be just the thing your small business needs. Do not be afraid of the unknown.

Take a look at some changes your small business may have experienced and reflect on how you made it work:

  • Moving your business online: For many small businesses, this was a natural progression of their business that was kicked into hyper-speed because of the pandemic. It takes a lot of work to move your business online, including website development, pictures of inventory, finding the right interface for selling your product, and getting the word out. It is vital to offer an online option for your customers who are staying home and staying safe during the pandemic.
  • Offering sidewalk sales: Using your store-front property could have been a pivot that your company made this past year. Offering your customers with an option to shop out in the open air is a huge positive for many customers. The small businesses that implemented safety practices and showed that they cared about their customers’ health were the businesses that thrived in 2020.
  • Virtual classes and services: For bakeries, yoga studios, and art schools, 2020 was a year of virtual courses. This new idea came to light for many businesses, as many people at home were looking for ways to stay busy and educated. It is a business plan that can benefit businesses with or without a pandemic. When a bakery offers a baking kit to pick up and virtually learn together, it will only increase customers who use that bakery for future needs.
  • Partnering with other small businesses: This past year, it was common to see small businesses supporting each other. You could stand in line at a restaurant to pick up your to-go order and find local jams and homemade bread available for sale from a different small business. Or a restaurant invites a dessert food truck to park in their parking lot and add a dessert option to their site. This cross-promotional model only benefits both businesses. And customers recognize the community feel of small businesses coming together.
  • Finding a manufacturer: For some e-commerce businesses, sales went through the roof in a short timespan. A small business lesson learned from these businesses was how to find a manufacturer, and fast, to keep up with the sales. Once you find a way to create your products quickly and from a source that you can trust, it is invaluable for your business going forward. This is a significant next step that many small businesses were forced to take during the pandemic.

When you look back on 2020, you can be grateful for the new ventures your small business had to pursue to change with the needs of the customers during the pandemic. These new changes won’t have to be undone if things ever go back to normal. Going virtual and offering several buying options for your customers will only help expand your business and keep it growing.

  1. Stay Current with Apps and Technology

If you were behind on technology when the pandemic hit, you’re likely caught up now. It’s essential to keep up with the technology changes to be ready to use the platforms when needed. The pandemic may have taught you that social media is vital for your small business.

When a lot of companies had a substantial following built already, you had to start from zero. If you had already been in-the-know with that trend, you would have had that headstart also. So learn from that.

  1. Conduct All Business Virtually and from Home

What a change it was to stop the hustle and bustle of small business life and be forced to slow down. Most business is now conducted virtually or from home, which saves so much time and money. And all of the noise of combining busy schedules to get together for meetings or coordinating where to meet was silenced. As the calm set in during the pandemic, what were your small business lessons learned?

  • Create a Home Office Escape: Make a pod inside your home where you can block out everything else and focus on your work.
  • Set Work Hours to Separate Home and Work: Communicate healthy boundaries around separating work life from home life.
  • Maximize the Time Saved on Commuting and Money Saved on Gas: Write it out – if you are saving 45-100 minutes per day from your commute and 30-60 miles worth of gas, record those savings and make a plan to reallocate the time and funds.
  • Break the Ice with Virtual Calls: How did you help your associates and customers feel comfortable on virtual video calls? Take those small business lessons with you as virtual calls become the norm, and people will continue to feel more comfortable with that.

This change to eliminate the busy-ness of small business life and slow down to focus on what’s really needed for your business was a major bonus of 2020. Take these small business lessons with you as you move on from this past year.

  1. Learn Small Business Lessons by Conducting Surveys

A great way to glean real data from your company is to send out customer surveys. The power of a survey is more than you realize. The opportunity to learn precisely why a customer isn’t returning to your store, whether it be a particular company or a cleanliness issue, is immeasurable. Collect data about customer service, pricing, cleanliness, product quality, etc., and then use that data to turn even larger profits.

Contact customers who had a poor experience and show them that you value their opinion. If you make changes to improve your processes, tell your customers about it so that they can see their survey made a difference.

  1. Connect with Your Customers and Share Your Personal Story

A big focus of running a small business during a crisis is showing vulnerability and letting your customers see the heart of your business. Something that sets you apart is your origin story. Share that with your customers and connect over shared struggles and successes.

Some ways that you can connect with your customers are:

  • Send thank you cards
  • Give holiday gifts
  • Share how you started on social media
  • Highlight your personal life on your business page regularly
  • Follow up with customers who connected with you
  • Run customer appreciation promotions
  • Spotlight valued customers

These simple ideas are wonderful ways to make your customers feel seen and appreciated. You may not be able to contact each customer that uses your business, but even just reaching out to a few customers a week will show your efforts. Customers share touching experiences with their friends, and your small business reputation will reach a greater audience.

  1. Be Prepared for the Unexpected

If there were ever a small business lesson to learn, it would be that you are surviving a pandemic. Maybe your small business is even thriving during a pandemic. If you can achieve that, you can achieve anything. A pandemic came your way; nobody saw it coming. Nobody had pandemic insurance or pandemic procedures written out in their employee handbooks.

What did you do to meet the unexpected head-on and turn it into a strength in your business? Be prepared to do it again as you’ve learned your lesson that anything is possible, and you should be prepared for disaster or success to come your way.

You may have made it through 2020 and don’t want ever to look back. But by reflecting on the small business lessons that you learned and making goals on how you can be even more prepared for the future will only benefit your business. Don’t be afraid to look back and be proud of your wins from this past year.

At Easier Accounting, we can help your small business succeed. If you are looking for ways to save money in 2021, we are here to help! Our accountants specialize in working with small businesses, which is why you know you can trust our team to maximize your savings. Schedule your appointment by calling (888) 620-0770.

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