As I write this blog post, there are less than 90 days until the end of 2021. By all accounts, it’s been a memorable year. Few business owners predicted that, this late into the year, we would still be dealing with COVID; even fewer thought that the recovery could be worse than the pandemic. Labor shortages, supply chain issues, rising inflation, and cash flow concerns have wreaked havoc on the second half of 2021.
Some of the biggest takeaways from this year will include, cash flow is king, it pays to have backup plans, and businesses should have several sources for their goods and supplies.
What about next year? As businesses prepare for 2022, what are the best ways to approach key areas of their company and ecosystem? Below are seven important areas for every business, and suggestions for each one.
1) Technology – Automation and collaboration are two big buzzwords in technology for 2022. Many companies are turning to automating parts of their businesses to address labor shortages. I recently visited a winery in CA that invested in a grape crushing machine that can do the work of up to 10 employees. Separately, companies that allow employees to work from home or remotely will look to invest in collaboration software to raise the quality of the work being done while increasing productivity and efficiency.
2) Insurance – It’s always smart to do at least a semi-annual review of your insurance policies, in the event something has changed in your business you want to make sure you are covered. In 2022, companies are looking at cyber insurance to cover their businesses in the event of being hacked. Ask your insurance provider about the cost of getting cyber insurance for your business.
3) Finances – Most government grant programs are either done or winding down, and many COVID-related loan programs will not be renewed in 2022. What financial instruments will your business need to achieve its goals while protecting itself against unexpected expenses next year? Are there specific months where cash flow dips into negative territory? Talk to your bank, credit union, or someone at Pitney Bowes Financial Services this year so you are prepared for anything and everything in 2022.
4) Employees – What did we learn about employees in 2021? They are a company’s most valuable resource! How can your business hire and retain the best employees in 2022? What benefits, beyond compensation, would make them want to work for your company? The best way to find out is by asking them. The more open your dialog, the better your chances are of creating a “win-win” situation in your business as well as fostering a positive company culture. Some suggestions include work/life balance perks, childcare assistance, and flexible work programs (remote or a hybrid model).
5) GPS Plan – Where do you want your company to be on 12/31/2022? Is your strategic goal a revenue number? Is it market share? Opening new locations? Introducing new products? Whatever your goals, getting there from where your business is at today requires a GPS Plan! Just as you plug into your smartphone an address of a place you’ve never been to before a business GPS Plan is plugging in goals of where you want to be at the end of the year. When you start on your journey, you would never think of putting your smartphone away. You need to follow every direction to arrive at your destination on time. When you create your business GPS Plan for 2022, treat it like a smartphone showing you what to do and where to go. You will probably make dozens of changes along the way, but a well-done GPS plan will keep you focused and on-track. It should include everything you plan to do during the year to arrive (or exceed) your goals in December.
6) Economic Indicators – What indicators will give you the most insights into what is happening in your marketplace in 2022? How far down the supply chain should you look for issues and/or opportunities? When do issues in China, Japan, or another country eventually become issues for your business? The best way for a company to change from being reactive to proactive is by focusing on the right economic indicators and then pivoting their business based on the information. Again, what economic indicators are you watching to answer the most pressing questions for your business as we get ready for 2022?
7) Competition – How do you monitor your competition? What did they do right and wrong in 2021? How do they position themselves against your company? Moreover, how will they sell against you in 2022? The more you know about the competition, the better your chances are in succeeding against them. Use social media to gather information and to see what they are posting, with whom they are talking, and who they recently hired and/or let go.
With less than three months left in 2021, there is no better time than right now to start laying the foundation for your business in 2022. If you’ve learned anything from over the past two years, it’s that business, and life, can change on a dime! The more prepared you are for change, the less downtime there will be in your business, and you will probably save money by not making bad decisions in the heat of the moment. Take my suggestions above and add to them your own checklist points that matter most in your company. I wish you all the best for the rest of this year and beyond.