Planning for 2021? Here's How to Start the Year with Confidence

by Rebecca Barr | Nov 13, 2020 10:22:39 AM

The whirlwind of 2020 has left some of us gasping for air. So, the thought of summarizing decisions, impacts and outcomes from a year filled with uncertainty feels a little, well, overwhelming.

But just think of everything you overcame. The strength it took you as a business owner to pivot and conquer unimaginable challenges. The way your customers, vendors and employees picked you up when things felt down.

This hectic year forced business owners to step outside of their comfort zones, and that vulnerability created a unique opportunity to identify and analyze the true strengths and weaknesses of their operations. Now it’s time to look ahead.

To Plan or Not to Plan

The flip of a calendar may feel like an overdue chance to reset. But as business owners, it’s not that simple. Strategic planning during a pandemic is different.

Brice Sloan, founder and CEO of Sloan Security Group, said planning for what’s next has been ongoing.

“It feels like we are doing strategy in action every month.”

Looking further ahead, Sloan emphasized that planning for 2021 is “more important than ever as industries are being reshaped as we speak.” He also recognized that making those preparations could be complicated, and even “impossible for some industries as we don’t know outcomes over the next six months.”

If that’s the case for your business, the best plan may be not having a plan at all. With so much up in the air, planning for the unknown may be wasted time until there is more stability to grab ahold of.

That means focusing on challenges as they come and rolling with the punches. It was that chaotic energy that allowed some businesses to win in 2020. No one planned for a pandemic, but when the world was jolted, business plans were thrown out.

Innovation happened without methodical direction. It was spur of the moment. Ideas were sparked that may have not ever seen the light of day if the year had gone as planned.

Strategic Agility

Whether you thrive on planning every detail or decide its best to just outline fundamental goals, there’s one key concept all business owners need to keep in mind: Agility.

Holly Green, CEO of the Human Factor, a business consulting firm, notes that a key concept of strategic agility is “moving fast with focus and flexibility in rapidly changing markets.”

How do you plan with that much flexibility in mind? Breaking an annual plan into smaller, bite-size pieces may be the way to go. Kim States, President/CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Greater Denver and Central Colorado, suggests using practices detailed in “12 Week Year” to succeed in 2021.

“The core focus of that book is that you treat each quarter like one year,” shared States. “Not a precursor to the next quarter but you chunk it out from planning purposes like you would a year.”

States is coupling this microplanning approach with the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) method of goal-setting to track, execute and achieve quarterly goals.

Stick to Your Roots

With so much movement, innovation and pivoting, it’s important to stick to your roots – the reason why you’re in business. Agility and flexibility will be imperative when meeting the changing needs of your customers.

One thing that won’t change, though, according to Connie Miller, regional president of Icon Credit Union, is a need to keep an eye on your business’s bigger picture.

“Challenges may create the need to adjust but it’s important to never lose sight of your core mission.”

To find more resources for your business visit




Subscribe Now

Additional Reading