4 Things To Keep In Mind During National Entrepreneurship Month

Forbes – Entrepreneurs by Rhett Power, Contributor

Woman hand holding light bulb and using laptop on wooden desk. Concept new idea with innovation and creativity

As the calendar turns to November and National Entrepreneurship Month, business owners have an opportunity to celebrate and reflect. It undoubtedly has been a taxing year for business founders, but those challenges haven’t dampened the overall entrepreneurial spirit.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the numbers. According to Yelp, Covid-19 caused more than 163,000 businesses to close as of the end of August, representing a 60% uptick compared with the middle of July. But with more than half a billion new companies setting up shop each month and 24 million people planning to become self-employed in the coming year, it seems like plenty of people are willing to take the leap to become their own bosses.

Going it alone and doing so successfully, however, are completely different things. As business owners size up their end of the year, prepare for the holidays, and begin to build their 2021 budgets, current founders and prospective entrepreneurs need to think purposefully about the coming year.

As business owners reflect on the year that was, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the next 12 months provide somewhat of a return to normalcy:

1. Always put customers first. Many companies have leaned on digital tools and offerings to remain relevant in the wake of Covid-19. While these tools are incredibly useful when social distancing is necessary, it’s essential not to let distance de-emphasize the need to focus on your customers.

Now is as good a time as any to recommit your marketing and overall service to the customers that make everything tick. Regularly check in with customers about how they’re responding to your services — be it good, bad, or otherwise. Ask important questions to refocus on who you should be targeting. Is there something you aren’t doing that competitors are? What about the opposite? Is there any real-time feedback being provided that can be applied in the future?

Think of all these questions (and others) in taking a more agile approach to marketing and engagement. According to Sarah Fruy, director of brand and digital experience at Pantheon, an agile approach is vital for companies that want to spotlight the people they serve.

“Agile is a mindset that values people over the tools they use,” Fruy said. “In a marketing landscape in which keeping up with the marketing tool Joneses is paramount, make your company stand out by putting people at the centre of your strategy.”

2. Get your books in order. Belts and budgets tightened for a lot of businesses over the past year. Some of those cutbacks came in the form of layoffs, while others manifested themselves in closing physical office space. But as companies worldwide respond to the ongoing economic rebound, it’s important to crunch some numbers.

Use revenue projections to predict what your business will need to bring in next year to remain profitable and limit turnover. You might consider cutting some yearly rituals like retreats, conferences, and other professional development ventures from the budget to make room elsewhere. Perhaps by cutting there, physical offices can be opened back up in a limited capacity.

Take a long look at your budget to figure out how you can stretch it as far as humanly possible. By getting creative with your bottom line, you’ll be able to sustain and thrive companywide.

3. Keep track of your mentorship programs and support systems. Seventy-one percent of Fortune 500 companies offer mentorship programs. While 97% of individuals who have mentors find them useful, only 37% of people say they actually have mentors.

Employees are the heartbeat of any company. By taking care of them and providing them with opportunities to grow and feel supported, you keep high-performing staff in the organization and inspire to continue contributing to your long-term growth.

Ensure they feel nurtured by reinvesting in mentorship programs, which should provide you with a continuous queue of engaged mentees ready to join your team. And by building a healthy stable of mentees, you’re encouraging everyone to pay it forward — 89% of them will likely mentor others. Mentorship programs are an investment in your company’s future and should not be taken for granted.

4. Start brainstorming now — not in the new year. Planning is vital for any organization with long-term aspirations. But strategic planning can look different based on your unique goals. With so much uncertainty about what’s to come in 2021, it’s best to start plotting now rather than waiting for the calendar to turn to January.

One survey found that only 63% of businesses plan a year or less in advance. With less than two months left in 2020, take the rest of the year to put things into perspective for 2021. Continually revisit your budget, aligning those numbers with your big-picture goals for the year.

Do you want to grow by a certain percentage, add new service lines, or complete long-standing initiatives? The further out you can look at these plans (and others), the more likely they will stick or come to fruition. Put these elements into perspective and determine where they fit into your company’s prospects for the next year and beyond.

November is an excellent time to reflect on the past and look forward to your future business trajectory. Take this month to think about where you’ve been, look at where the company currently stands, and set a clear course toward its ultimate destination.

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