Businesses and consumers alike have had to weather several shocks over the past two years. In this article, I advise how businesses can make 2022 a year for rebuilding and taking advantage of new opportunities.
During 2020, 42% of small businesses closed during lockdown, according to financier FinFind. Unemployment is at its highest ever levels, at 35%, while the July 2021 riots and an unstable electricity supply have added to business woes. 2021 ended with the news that the country’s GDP shrunk by 1,5% in Q3 throwing the economy into a tailspin.
We’ve gone through a rollercoaster ride, and nothing is as it used to be. For most businesses, performance is not yet at pre-pandemic levels. This is an opportunity to reimagine the future and rebuild accordingly. Business owners need to reassess their operations, get rid of what’s not working, and re-think their strategy.
Setting the right goals
Take a look back at 2021 and figure out what worked and what didn’t work. Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART goals). These SMART goals can then be used for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to assess the health of your business and its overall performance.
Embracing the change
It is tempting to keep on doing things the way they always have been, but for most companies, that’s no longer an option. You’re better off embracing the changes and figuring out how to compete in a new landscape.
Virtual meetings, cloud infrastructure, hybrid working arrangements and online shopping are all here to stay – along with increased financial pressure on consumers, online education, and health and sanitation concerns.
And yes, cybercrime is also on the rise, and SMEs are not immune – so take the right precautions when running operations digitally.
Evaluating the business model
January is a good time to check that your business model is still appropriate for your offering and consider how you can fine-tune it.
Look at why you started doing things in a particular way and whether there may be a better way. Assess whether you are still relevant in the face of changing consumer behaviour.
For example, as digital adoption was fast tracked as a result of COVID-19, people are looking for human connection and customers want to feel special. As such, it is vital for businesses to ensure their customers are seen and heard, they are engaged with, and relationships are constantly being upkept in a digital world. Today, a hybrid of digital and analogue is essential when it comes to business operations.
Hitting the financial books
Do a basic financial analysis on your business. Who were your biggest customers and where did you see the most profit? What costs are essential and which ones can be trimmed? How is your forecast looking?
Make sure you consider: gross profit margin, operating profit margin, net profit margin and return on investment.
Keeping the customers
If you aren’t already doing so, make 2022 the year you measure customer satisfaction and retention rates. These two measures are vital for understanding how robust your business is.
Draw up a strategy for maintaining customer relationships and ask your customers to score their satisfaction with you.
Communicating to connect
Put out high-quality communication that shows your company at its best. Clean up your email database, refresh your social media channels and upgrade your website. Identify your highest-value customers and have a plan for engaging them.
Evaluating employee performance
With the insights you’ve already gained from the financial analysis, goal setting and customer retention, you can now set employee-level KPIs to move your business forward. Apps which track sales directly, can help you assess sales staff performance and see where additional support or coaching may be needed.
Checking the supply chains
The past two years have seen considerable disruption of global supply chains and shipping routes. Examine your own supplier base for potential vulnerability and identify similar companies to those whose products you already rely on. A diversified supply base will help reduce the risk of disruptions to your own customers.
Using appropriate tech tools
Technology is moving at lightning speed. Take the time to check whether your tech is working to move your business forward.
Look for apps and software that help you measure performance and give you actionable data you can use for better decision-making. Technology can also assist in improving productivity by automating repetitive tasks and allowing businesses to access information and perform tasks in real time.
Both business failure and success are not inevitable. Look at your business, assess your strengths and weaknesses and make a plan. By focusing on the financials and on customer satisfaction, and with appropriate tech support, you’ll build a resilient and sustainable business that continues to perform into the future.
Zane van Rooyen is the Product Marketing Manager at Skynamo.
Established in Stellenbosch, South Africa in 2012, Skynamo is the leading field sales technology provider with close to 10,000 users at nearly 1,000 companies across a wide range of industries in Southern Africa, Australasia, the UK, Europe and the US. Skynamo’s field sales mobile app and cloud-based management platform are used by manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors with sales teams in the field, selling products to an existing base of customers. Skynamo integrates with a wide range of ERP and accounting software to improve order accuracy and fulfilment. Skynamo was named Sage ISV Partner of the Year for 2019 (Africa & the Middle East) and an Acumatica Certified Application and Customer Verified Application. Skynamo received $30million in funding from US-based software investment firm Five Elms Capital in 2020 and forms part of the Stellenbosch-based Alphawave group of software and electronics companies, with more than 100 employees in South Africa, the UK and the US.
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