One of the best things about being a business owner is things are forever changing. Keeping up with the latest trends keeps things fresh and makes sure you’re adaptable. Here’s the top five to be keeping an eye on for 2021:
If you’re not already using automation in your business, then now’s the time. Think of the giants like Amazon who use automation from the customer support, through to computer programmed forklifts in their warehouses. Alas, we don’t all have Jeff Bezos budget for automation, but even as a small business there are ways you can automate for free or minimal cost.
Start with your email automation. If you’re using a CRM system such as Mailerlite, Mailchimp, Convertkit etc, what happens when someone joins your email list? Do you have your automated emails set up? If you do, when did you last review them? Go through and make sure they’re still relevant, and that they sound like you.
Chatbots are getting bigger and better. Another form of automation, but I felt they were worth of their own section. More of us are happy to use chatbots as consumers. They’ve come a long way from the ‘computer says no’ or ‘I’m sorry I don’t understand that request’ basics of a few years ago.
There has been a huge growth in smaller companies are using chatbots in their marketing. You don’t need to be a programmer or have a super budget either. Take a look at many chat. You can build and host your own chatbot with personalised auto-responses for as little as $10 a month.
They can be personalised, branded and help build familiarity and trust with your audience too. You can set up automated welcome messages, send content, redirect customers to a sales page or resource, schedule messages and respond to specific keywords.
Be true to what it is though. Don’t make try to make out that you’re answering messages 24/7 if you’ve got a chatbot in place. It’s a bot at the end of the day, it’s not human. However, that doesn’t mean you can give it personality.
Business Coach & Strategist Lisa Johnson has nailed the balance between bot and personality brilliantly:-
Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!
Probably one of the most overused words in business this last year. We saw many businesses transform, most not out of choice, and some adapted better than others. However, pivot doesn’t need to mean a complete overhaul of your business; it can be as simple as tweaking one of your current offerings.
For example, if you’re a bakery or cake business, perhaps you offered home delivery afternoon tea or ‘grazing’ boxes. What about tweaking that further with a bubble box? None of us can celebrate birthdays or special occasions together now. A ‘bubble box’ could be the delivery of celebration cakes to everyone in that birthday persons ‘bubble’ meaning they can share the celebration together virtually. There is always a way to tweak and refine your offerings without upending your entire business!
If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that life doesn’t always suit a 9-5. We’re back to ‘homeschooling’ (I’m not a fan of that phrase, normally homeschooling is a lifestyle choice, I’d say we’re emergency schooling at the moment!) and employers are generally more accepting that the 9-5 doesn’t always work.
Many are logging on earlier, clearing inboxes, then helping their children with school work, and then going back to inboxes later in the day or evening. That’s not to say nothing happens in-between time (far from it!), but in my experience, people are more accepting of emails being responded to outside of ‘normal’ hours and response times being a little longer. I think these changes will have an impact long term. Employers in particular have seen benefits to more flexible working.
No longer for the big corporates and the paranoid! Continuity planning is a must for all business this year. We might not be a hotspot for earthquakes here in the UK, nor are you planning for the second coming, but, if we’ve learned anything from covid in business, it’s that you need a backup plan!
A continuity plan doesn’t need to be reams of pages. It should be a how-to guide for coping with the effects of an emergency. Its primary purpose is to get you back to “business as usual” as painlessly as possible.
If you’re unsure then use the ‘what if?’ approach. For example; What if the electricity supply failed? What if our IT networks went down? For a day? Or a week? Make a list of those ‘what if?’ questions that could impact your business. That will give you a good framework to start with.
Then extend that out to the worst-case scenario. Your worst-case scenario should reflect what would be worst for your business. Generally, the worst case will be something that completely stops you from carrying out your business. Think about cause and effect: a chain of events might be far worse than just one incident. For example:
Terrorist incident = no access to building = no access to IT system = customers unable to pay you = unable to supply your customers = bad publicity = damaged business reputation = a situation your competitors may be quick to exploit.
While there is no crystal ball, and no guarantees, these trends seem set to take off in 2021. By taking these trends into account now, you can be one step ahead of your competitors.
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