Have you got everything in place to attract customers and restore growth this year? Most small businesses are thinking positively about 2021. According to a recent survey from Oracle NetSuite’s research arm, Brainyard, 73 percent of business leaders expect 2021 to be positive or very positive for their business, showing that optimism is very high.  

Recently, Ramon Ray and leading finance experts came together for a discussion on The Future of Business: Gearing for Growth, the first installment of NetSuite’s New Age of Growth series, designed to help business owners tap into their superpowers.

Ramon and panelists discussed many key challenges businesses have to overcome to become successful. Let’s dive into the top challenges and ways you can restore growth:

Pitfalls of Sales and Marketing 

Many small business owners suffered throughout 2020 due to the pandemic. The economy is now different from the one we used to know. Remote working, virtual events, and Zoom meetings have become common words for most. These changes brought with it many new opportunities in the way companies reach new and existing customers.

If you’re a stickler for the sales and marketing strategies you used to employ in the pre-COVID world, you’re making a big mistake. The pandemic has brought many changes in consumer behavior, make sure you’ve updated your sales and marketing strategies to address a new environment. Here are some strategies that can help your business stand out:

  • Go all-in on social: Thanks to lockdowns and social distancing, people are spending more time on social media than ever. With this change, you should be making an aggressive plan to leverage social media to spread the word, serve your customers, and sell products/services.
  • Cross-promotion is key: The marketing budgets of so many have been depleted but don’t let this stop you, explore new opportunities like cross-promotion to find customers.
  • Be transparent: Focus on educating your audience. Helping your audience make the right decisions is the best way to earn trust. Create helpful content and look for opportunities to partner with other small businesses that don’t compete with you.

For example, Eileen Tobias, CFO Komodo Health, a healthcare and life sciences software company, noted that her organization “had a rapid shift to digital events, webinars and email marketing.” Due to this shift, Tobias noted how the company shifted its marketing portfolio to include paid ads on LinkedIn and other new types of marketing to reach their target audience.

The pandemic has forced businesses to focus more on digital channels. To keep up, make sure your marketing strategy is evolving to balance digital and virtual activities to drive sales.

Business Leader Outlook Survey: Winter 2021

Supply Chain Hurdles 

The pandemic had a severe impact on the supply chain. Be it small or big, most small businesses suffered due to interrupted manufacturing, lack of raw materials, and more. What did this disruption teach us? Try working towards making your supply chain disaster-proof

Megan O’Brien, business and finance editor at NetSuite, rightly pointed out, “there is going to be a really big focus on diversification, resilience, and kind of finding the new right suppliers for the rest of the year.” 

To help build resilience into your own supply chain process here are some quick tips:

  • Increase your safety stock 
  • Work with multiple suppliers 
  • Ship through multiple partners 
  • Stress-test your backup system 
  • Train your team to handle adverse situations 

Last but not least, you should buy business interruption insurance to tackle any unforeseen crisis. Remember, to restore growth, preparing for disruptions goes a long way in staying afloat during a crisis. 

Shortage of Top Talents 

Hiring top talents has always been challenging for small business owners, and the last year has changed employees’ experience and expectations. It has become more challenging to find the right people who will align with your mission and values. 

Despite perceived drawbacks of remote work, 62 percent of people find remote work more appealing now than they did before the pandemic, saying they now have more time to spend with family (51 percent), sleep (31 percent), and get work done (30 percent). Employees are now increasingly looking forward to working remotely. With this, your hiring strategies should be accommodating more remote employees.

The remote hiring process can be complicated. Hiring managers are not always trained to conduct remote only interviews, and so many business owners have had to invest in new resources to train and onboard employees in this new environment. 

During NetSuite’s Future of Business: Gearing for Growth event, Jason Balk, CFO Adtegrity noted his organization is  “trying to find people that fit our culture and can kind of step right in and take off. But in many cases, we’re having to train them as well. So, it’s been a challenge trying to get everybody on the same page.”

His challenges echo that of many business leaders. The pandemic challenged many small businesses but we continue to see hope and optimism all around us. My advice to business owners? Address these business challenges as quickly as possible to restore growth and ensure that you make the best of this year. 

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