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Tap Into the Latest Business Trends: 12 SME Goals for 2021


| By Alison Boleyn | December 24, 2020

These are the SME goals to kick in 2021.

Tap into the latest business trends with these goals for your small business.

So much has changed in the world of business in the past 12 months and while bigger players might have the resources and working capital to adapt technologies and investments on a massive scale, small and medium enterprises have their own advantages in change management: proximity to the customer, speed of decision-making, relationships with the team. Here are 12 strategies that tap into the latest business trends to help your business adapt to a new world of expectations – from the market and your staff.

Release the “Owner Mindset”

New year, new you? Consulting firm McKinsey & Company has urged small-business owners to hand off a little leadership and assume more strategic roles. In July, it noted small businesses “often lack sufficient performance management systems, clear day-to-day operating models and management structures with well-defined roles and responsibilities”. Determine where you can delegate to staff so you can focus on the bigger picture.

Bring Sustainability Into Focus

Sustainability is a key business trend for 2021 – make sure your business is on top of it.

Australian businesses need to prepare for increased scrutiny of their packaging, waste and supply chain. Public attention has turned to SMEs’ environmental practices after CDP, the non-profit that helps companies measure environmental impacts, found major corporations’ supply chains create 5.5 times more emissions than the companies’ direct operations. The Financial Times put it this way: “Big business is no longer the planet’s biggest problem”. Set a goal to conduct an audit of where your business can improve environmentally, whether that be through better packaging or an improved internal recycling and waste management system, and speak with your employees about how they would like to get involved.

Team up With Other Businesses

The challenges of 2020 ignited collaboration across industry and government. Small businesses too can work together to solve problems and extend reach. “No money crosses hands,” explains BG (also known as Big Girls Don’t Cry Anymore) founder Karen Edbrooke of how her lingerie company gives free floor space to brands with a similar target market, then cross-promotes on social media. “Let us promote you, you promote us,” she says, “and let’s give our customers a better experience.”

Rethink Your Workforce Mix

Consider hiring some talent on-demand for specialised projects and contracts. In September, the McKinsey Global Institute found that 70 per cent of the executives surveyed expected to start hiring more temporary workers and contractors.”

Set a Clear WFH Policy

Creating a working from home policy is a key business goal for 2021.

Workers expect a new level of flexibility; one University of Sydney Business School survey found three in four workers believed their employers were more likely to support working from home after COVID-19. A strong WFH policy lays out eligibility criteria, working hours, timekeeping requirements, communication channels, IT support and even dress standards.

SEE ALSO: 10 Ways Your Business Can Smash Social Media

Invest More in Social Media

The process of targeting the customer you want by the social media platform they frequent isn’t straightforward. “Influencers can influence teen purchasing decisions but [the] family is still a teen’s main influence,” says branding expert Kathleen Casford. “So a small business should customise their messaging and delivery to each key family member.” The By Ninja founder says you can retain your old customer base while reaching out to new market segments “if you don’t compromise your core values and still show existing customers they matter”.

Update Your Cyber Security

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman says 43 per cent of cyber attacks target small businesses. Help yourself by checking out the free Small Business Cyber Security Guide from the Australian Cyber Security Centre, and be sure to consider affordable pay-as-you-go security services. Introduce multi-factor authentication, keep systems and applications up to date and stay alert to phishing – fraudulent emails that convince people to transfer money or information.

SEE ALSO: Let the Geek Guide You: How to Secure Your Business and Data

Prioritise Employee Wellbeing

2020 was a rough year for many of us. Safe Work Australia offers a Work-Related Psychological Health and Safety guide to help manage your staff’s mental health. Employees who develop depression or other psychiatric injuries due to stressors from working from home could be entitled to workers compensation, says lawyer Mark Wiemers. “Management action need only be reasonable,” says the principal at Barry Nilsson. “It does not need to be perfect.” Schedule specific wellbeing check-ins with staff, and be alert to workloads and expectations.

Be Local, Buy Local

The latest business trends show people want to buy local – promoting your SME in this way can attract customers.

More than half of Australians surveyed by Roy Morgan say that since the COVID-19 pandemic, they have a higher preference for Australian-made products. If you’re local, make sure people know, and also publicly support other homegrown businesses.

Take Advantage of Temporary Full Expensing

Eligible Australian businesses can claim an immediate deduction of the full value of all newly acquired, eligible, depreciable assets so long as the assets are installed or first used before 30 June, 2022. Keep in mind it’s not enough just to purchase before the deadline – anything you buy needs to be installed or in use and for a taxable purpose.

SEE ALSO: Tax Tips & Taking Advantage of the Instant Asset Write-Off

Plan for Good Times and Bad

The pandemic showed us the value of a Plan B … and Plan C and Plan D. Prepare for multiple scenarios – worst-case and otherwise – by, say, incorporating remote working into the business model, finding local suppliers or reducing debt. The late Lee Kun-hee, who took the Samsung Group global as its chairman, said he drove excellence by maintaining a “sense of crisis”.

Forge A Human Connection

The starkest finding in Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends report is that executives reported prioritising productivity and efficiency over customer engagement and social impacts, yet more than a quarter of consumers said they ditched businesses they saw as acting in self interest. Marketing in 2021 is about forging genuine human connection, building trust and sticking to your purpose.

This is general information only and does not constitute financial or legal advice. Other requirements under the law apply. Seek professional financial and/or legal advice to determine the right outcomes for your business.