Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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After March 2020, the world morphed to a new place, where all businesses had to deal with new challenges all on a sudden. Many businesses had closed down for a certain period, some hung by a thread and a few others thrived. When the worst was over and some semblance of normalcy returned, businesses started opening up albeit cautiously.

With the possibility of a vaccine being available some time towards the end of the first quarter or the second quarter of 2021, businesses are in a better position to envision the future, although many aspects still remain foggy with uncertainties. Nevertheless, this is the right time for businesses to formulate a strong strategy for growth by setting realistic goals for the coming year. Here are a few insights that can help shape business strategy.

Focus on your strengths and innovate

Experts have opined that the vaccine might hit the shelves by May 2021 – that means for almost the first half of next year, social distancing norms and safety protocols being followed currently will remain in place. Thus, businesses should figure out their areas of strengths – what they do best and find innovative ways to continue doing that within the prevalent limitations. For instance, when restaurants were not allowed to host customers, they started delivering food. A similar mindset is required for developing your business strategy for 2021.

Possible can-do strategy examples:

  • Establishing a digital presence, possibly an online channel of doing business
  • Research new demand trends and diversify products or services to meet them
  • Find out new markets to expand your business
  • Explore new methods to enable in-store shopping with adequate safety (entry by appointment)
  • Upgrade customer experience exceptionally to win customer loyalty

Once your focus points are locked, you can quantify the goals and work on the means to achieve them.

Provide customers with better and more valuable resources

2021 is going to be a year of the customers. Customer sentiment and behavior has never been more crucial than now. The market is at the mercy of the customers right now and hence businesses must to do more to retain old customers and win new ones. A core focus of your business strategy should be to deliver more value to customers. Here are a few ways of doing so:

  • Offer better finance plans or introduce structured payment options to boost sales
  • Enhance customer convenience by providing services like home-delivery
  • Provide well-trained customer executives who can guide customers on call

Review your upcoming product launches

The lockdowns have already disrupted innumerable product launches in 2020 due factory shutdowns or unavailability of raw materials. Keep in mind the lessons learnt during that period and create a fresh timeline for new product development. Scrutinize all the factors related to product development and then revisit the launch dates to eliminate any possible hindrances.

If there are products that you want to launch to meet current customer demands, explore ways to expedite the launches and in case the new products are not especially relevant to the present time, expand the product launch timeframe, so that you get more time to make strategic decisions regarding labor, marketing, etc.

Develop different plans for multiple scenarios

Anticipate 2021 to be replete with uncertainties. To be ready for the unexpected, you must develop strategies for multiple business scenarios. Lay out possible contingencies that can arise in your business in the upcoming year and create potential strategic responses that can be used readily.

The possible scenarios that you can plan for might include instances like, sudden peaking of infections, slower pace of reopening, lingering limitations on business operations, on-demand and remote environments, full reopening, etc. You can also research what businesses in different parts of the world did in many of the scenarios that unfolded in 202o. Developing such a diverse set of strategies can prepare your business better for pivoting from one scenario to the next.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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