Looking Ahead at 2021

plan ahead jay newkirkI’m sure all of us are glad we have 2020 behind us. I’ve been thinking about what guidance I can offer for planning the new year’s annual kickoff meeting (here’s the link to a blog I wrote on the topic, including a sample agenda). Also, I’ve been trying to capture what we are faced with in 2021. My first thought was that we need to put last year behind us and at the same time bring forward any lessons learned and experiences we had that we can apply to the new year.

Things to think about include the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn. Dealing with the pandemic is ongoing and affects where and how we work. The outlook includes strictly following the CDC’s guidance, receiving the vaccine, and seeking solutions to continuing your business’s successful growth and profitability.

Key elements for accomplishing that include continuing employee and leadership team development, interfacing effectively with clients and customers, continuing to hold effective and productive virtual meetings, and successfully optimizing your sales and marketing activity in this new “normal” environment. Following are some helpful approaches to addressing these challenges.

Dealing with the Pandemic

First, make sure you follow the masking and social distancing guidelines and encourage your staff to do likewise. Also, perfect using virtual meeting applications in order to optimize the effectiveness of your virtual all-hands meetings, your leadership team staff meetings, and your client interchanges.

Optimizing Virtual Meeting Effectiveness

Study and perfect the various virtual meeting platforms and their invitation processes. Encourage all the virtual meeting attendees to unmute their audio when appropriate and make sure they understand the importance of turning on the video capability. In the virtual environment, it is extremely important to be able to see the attendees’ faces, which significantly improves the virtual interchanges.

Successfully Optimizing Your Sales Activity

Traditionally, the sales activity is performed by engaging customers and potential clients while being physically together. The new virtual environment is addressed above so sales, like most other interchanges, must be performed virtually. This results in paying close attention to your marketing material. Consider including attractive graphics and large font that are easily seen on screens.

Optimizing Your Marketing Activity

As you know, your marketing activity supports sales, which include a well-designed website, marketing flyers, rack-card-sized handouts, and supporting briefing and webinar productions. This activity has always been done mostly in-house, so the difference now is just taking optimal advantage of the virtual meeting platforms that provide real-time document sharing.

Closing Thoughts

In closing, I’ll share with you that I just received my January-February edition of Entrepreneur magazine. I read the Schomer article on Drew Barrymore. It focuses on dealing with workload, balancing work and family, and discusses Drew’s expanded business and entrepreneurial activity. It covers what she had to do in 2020 while dealing with doing business virtually. The article ends with her explaining that she is “working to keep her family, team, audiences, and customers happy.” Her point is that this new environment is causing increased and innovative work time and requires paying attention to a new work/family balance which means working more hours. Drew’s final thought was “I do feel like I’m on a hamster wheel that’s on fire.” She goes on to say, “But maybe being an ‘entrepreneur’ really just means that you’re someone who keeps running.”

What are you doing to prepare for the new year’s continuing pandemic? How are you dealing with the virtual work environment? What do you think being an entrepreneur means today? Feel free to share in the comments below.