As business owners breathe a collective sigh of relief after successfully surviving 2020, it can be tempting to put your company on autopilot following a period of such high stress. However, when you own a small business, the success of your operations often relies on your continual engagement and innovation. Rather than succumbing to the beginning of the year doldrums, here are a few things you can do to push your business forward in 2021.

Figure Out Your Plan for Returning

According to Accounting Today, February is a good time to start asking your employees about their expectation for returning (or not returning) to the office. With a COVID-19 vaccination now available it seems likely that many businesses will be able to resume their normal in-person operations by the end of the year. However, assuming that your staff will immediately transition back into your brick-and-mortar location may be a mistake. After almost a year of working remotely, and with telecommuting positions on the rise, your team may want more flexibility that was previously available to them. You may want to consider offering the option to stay remote full- or part-time. 

Prepare Your Taxes

If you don’t have all your tax documents together by March, Accounting Today recommends filing for an extension. 2020 was certainly an unusual fiscal year, and if you need more time to consolidate all of your paperwork, make sure to file for the appropriate extended timeline with the IRS so that you do not incur any fines.

Prioritize Communication

Consider taking a new approach to staff meetings to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. You can use a turn-based system or simply remind everyone not to interrupt whoever is speaking. Create smaller groups to discuss new business ideas and maintain an open-door policy that makes employees feel safe to come to you with feedback.

If you choose to offer permanent remote positions, make sure to have a communication plan in place to stay connected and on the same page. Accounting Today recommends a standing weekly video conference time that you observe each week.

Audit Your Digital Strengths and Weaknesses

Start by looking at the tech your employees are using- is the new equipment you purchased during the pandemic working for you? Is there an area that you need to invest in in order to help staff work more efficiently? How are you doing with your current software and cloud-based storage?

Next, eliminate paper waste. Chances are there is at least one process in your business that you can take paperless in 2021. Identify it and take the necessary steps to eliminate excess printing.

Improve Your Client Relationships

Take a look at how many of your clients are local. Do they require face-to-face meetings? Can you hop on a video call instead?

This is also great opportunity to look at the payment options you give your customers. Would it be beneficial to add a new option?

Plan for the Future

Don’t let your improvements stay confined to the short-term. As we’ve all seen with the Coronavirus crisis, unexpected challenges can really test the limits of a business. Take a look at your disaster recovery protocol and strategize for possible future disruptions like natural disasters. Your future self will thank you for planning ahead.

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