Preparing Your Small Business for 2021 (Free Workbook)

The year is (finally) coming to an end and as a small business owner, I could not be more excited! There’s no denying that 2020 was a challenging year for everybody. It’s been a year of back-to-back trials that have tested everybody in ways we couldn’t imagine. It’s forced everybody to adapt to a new normal and led to a lot of changes. 

For me personally, the year started with me working at a marketing agency. I was working for a team that didn’t respect my time or boundaries and it led to a significant toll on my mental health. But I’m so thankful for that experience because it led to me starting my own business. Despite it not even being a full year since I started True Blue Creatives, I have seen so much growth in myself and in my business that I couldn’t be more thankful. 

The most exciting part? We’re just getting started. While the growth of 2020 was exciting, the things we have in store for 2021 are so much bigger. If you’re looking for a way to make 2021 an even more successful year for your business — or maybe even the year you start your own business — here are some key steps in planning for the upcoming year. 

  1. Reflection

I firmly believe that before you can know where you’re going, you need to fully understand where you are. While I’m sure we all wish to never have to think about 2020 again, it is important to reflect on everything you’ve accomplished in this past year. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What were my goals in 2020? Did I reach them?
  • If yes, what steps did you take to be successful?
  • If not, what stood in your way of achieving those goals?

It’s important to take note of which steps worked for you and which didn’t when planning for the upcoming year. If you posted consistently on Facebook every single day, but still didn’t see the sales you needed from that platform, that’s important information to take into account. Maybe next year you can refocus that time and energy to a different platform. 

Of course there are things that are completely out of our control that may lead to the success (or lack of success) when working towards our goals. For example, maybe you had a random TikTok go viral and you sold out of stock. That may be something that’s hard to replicate in the upcoming year and that’s okay! On the other hand, something like, hmmm… I don’t know, a global pandemic might get in the way of achieving your goals. 

It’s also important to keep track of the numbers you reached in 2020. Write down the following:

  • How much revenue did you generate in 2020?
  • How many sales/clients did you have?
  • How many team members did you hire?
  • How many returning customers/clients did you have?

These are the starting points for next year’s goals. From these numbers, you’ll determine how much you want to increase each one in the upcoming year. 

Finally, be sure to review your marketing for the year as well. Ask yourself:

  • Which platform did you see the most sales from?
  • Which platform did you see the least amount of sales from?
  • Did you spend any money on advertising? If so, how much?
  • How satisfied were you with your marketing results?

These answers will all be important when planning your marketing strategy for 2021. 

  1. Set your Goals

After taking time to reflect on everything you accomplished in 2020, it’s time to set your sites on 2021. Break down your business into categories and set at least one goal in each category: financial, products/services, team, marketing, and overall. Here are some examples of goals for each category:

  • Financial: “I would like to generate $120,000 in revenue in the year 2021.”
  • Products/Services: “I would like to launch an influencer marketing service in 2021.”
  • Team: “By the end of 2021, I would like to hire 5 more people to my team.”
  • Marketing: “In 2021, I want 75% of my sales to be coming from Instagram.”
  • Overall: “I would like to move into an office space by the end of 2021.”

While it can be fun (and encouraged) to daydream about crazy success for your business, make sure that your goals are attainable. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that anybody’s business can become extremely successful. However, I don’t believe that it can happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work, time, and patience to grow a business into a six-figure or seven-figure business. Take into consideration the time you have available for your business and plan accordingly. 

Be sure to also make your goal as specific as possible. If you leave it too vague, it will be hard to determine when you’ve accomplished it. For example, rather than saying “I would like to grow my business next year”, determine a specific metric and assign a number to it. So you go from saying “I would like to grow my business next year” to saying “I would like to grow my client base to 10 clients/month by the end of 2021.” At the end of 2021, there will be no question whether or not you accomplished what you wanted. 

  1. Create a Roadmap

Personally, I think this is the most important step. Sure, it can be motivating to sit down and write down all of your goals for next year, but if you stop there, it’s likely that you’ll never see those goals come to fruition. It’s important to create a specific plan in order to stay on track to your goals. 

Start by taking out a yearly calendar. Go month-by-month and write down any events or obligations you have that may get in the way of your business. For example, if you’re getting married in June, you already know that is going to be a very busy month for you. Most likely, you’ll take some time off from work which may impact your business for that month. 

If your business varies throughout the year, take note of that as well. For example, if you’re a wedding planner, you know that the busiest months for weddings are May – October, so you would want to write that down on the calendar. This is vital for the next step. 

Next, you want to break down all of those yearly goals, into smaller monthly goals. If one of your goals was to make $120,000 in revenue in 2021, break that down into individual months. Of course, your business is more likely to grow exponentially rather than a steady line month to month, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s just say that’s earning $10,000 per month. 

With that number in mind, let’s take a step back and remember those busy/slow times that we wrote down on the calendar. If you know you’re getting married in June, maybe you will want to make that monthly goal a little lower and compensate for it by increasing your goal in a different month. 

Still doesn’t make sense? Don’t worry — we’ve laid it all out for you in this free downloadable workbook. 

Ready for the final step? Once you’ve broken down all of your goals into smaller goals and tasks, pull out your calendar and choose a day and time that you can check-in on your goals. I recommend doing this no less than once a month, but I personally do it once every other week. On the first and third Monday of every month at 9 AM, I pull up my goals (I keep it in my project management system — ClickUp) and review the following:

  • What tasks did I do in the past two weeks to work towards this month’s goals?
  • Am I on track to reach this month’s goals? If not, what steps do I need to take to get there?
  • What tasks am I going to do in the next two weeks to work towards this month’s goals?

I treat my goals just like I would a client’s project. For each goal, I write down the specific tasks I need to complete and due dates for each task. Not only does this make it easier for me when doing my bi-weekly check-in, it also keeps me accountable. 

Our Gift to You

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t worry, I get it! As exciting as it can be to dream about all the possibilities in the upcoming year, it also results in a fairly large to-do list. To help make these goals a little more manageable, I created a free workbook that will help you create a roadmap for 2021. Feel free to download it and let us know what goals you’ll be working towards this year!

Happy holidays! 

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