There is no question that 2020 presented many unique challenges. In addition to the disruptions to everyday life, the business world had to adapt to a quickly-changing environment, with many small and medium-sized enterprises struggling to survive in the wake of COVID-19.
A well-thought-out business plan with actionable goals is crucial in 2021, especially considering the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and market conditions.
When creating a business plan, it is important to focus on specific initiatives for growing your business over the short and long terms—like prospecting, new technology, expanding service offerings or updating existing ones, or building out internal teams with new hires.
Pinpoint Revenue Drivers
Increasing revenue is the goal of any business, but the difficulties of last year have made it even more important for SMEs to identify and leverage their main revenue drivers in 2021. Companies should precisely outline how each initiative in the plan will bring in revenue and divide those initiatives into two target segments: current clients and new clients.
While current clients are an obvious revenue driver, it is important not to neglect this group, as it’s easier, and less costly, to continue to service an existing client than it is to prospect and onboard a new one. At the same time, offering enhanced or new products or services to meet demands that have arisen during the pandemic can differentiate an SME from competitors and may attract new clients.
Take a look at how the lives of your SME organization’s customers and employees have changed during the pandemic. Then, based on how they have had to adjust, come up with ideas for how your business can best meet their new needs and priorities—and the investments that must be made to do so. Anything that can increase efficiency and improve operating procedures in order to better serve clients and employees during this period of ongoing uncertainty will be critical for fostering growth, and onboarding new customers, this year.
For example, is there a type of client-facing technology solution that can resolve digital workflow slowdowns, or strengthen engagement with customers? Is there smart technology that can help your employees better understand the goals of customers, and provide differentiating services to resolve their challenges? These are the considerations that SME leaders like you should consider in order to position their companies for growth.
Then, you can search for professionals in your field who possess the experience and expertise to implement the operational efficiencies and technology solutions that can differentiate your SME—and organize a marketing campaign that can inform current and prospective clients of your SME’s innovative services, and assist with the recruitment of professionals committed to your vision.
Now armed with a list of revenue goals, foundational work, and strategic projects, SMEs can begin to prioritize the list.
Once prioritized, details of the costs and approximate timelines should be calculated for each initiative. This does not necessarily have to be a specific number of hours or dollar amount.; all that is needed is a reasonable approximation of what is needed to keep projects on track.
Assess those estimated costs and timelines to begin to determine which are most likely not profitable or feasible for the year. With those options removed, analyze the list again and reprioritize it. Then, break those priorities out into monthly or quarterly goals for the business, while also defining smaller steps that can be taken to accomplish the larger initiatives.
Invest in Your Own Business
A smart business plan will also look inward at opportunities for improvement within the company—whether it’s offering employee development programs, implementing new technology, updating client-facing or back-end facilities, or exploring new partnerships that could ultimately benefit clients.
Businesses that invest the time to develop an actionable plan for generating scalable growth will have a competitive advantage, but also need to remain flexible and adaptive to changing environments—a lesson most businesses learned in 2020.
Anthony Stich is Chief Operating Officer of Advicent (www.advicentsolutions.com), the financial planning technology provider of choice for over 140,000 financial professionals across more than 3,000 firms worldwide.
Anthony M. Stich – Chief Operating Officer, Advicent
Anthony has one goal: to develop a team of exceptional customer experience leaders across the globe, empowering them with the latest industry-leading methodologies in strategic planning, customer success, and business development to successfully grow Advicent, the leading provider of SaaS technology solutions for the financial services industry, into a global brand. Anthony has swiftly become a thought leader in the FinTech space, providing compelling statistics, a thought-provoking perspective, and much-needed humor in a rapidly-changing industry.
Prior to Advicent, Anthony spent most of his career in the financial services industry, leading the marketing group at Bank Mutual as well as performing national marketing and go-to-market functions between his roles at Guaranty Bank and AIG VALIC.