Time to reset: five habits to break for a productive 2021

Before jumping straight into planning for 2021, every SME should look back through 2020 and find out what they can learn or “unlearn’ to set themselves up for future success.

We all have a few personal bad habits, but in business, these can seriously limit your growth potential. I’ve put together five habits that you should break to put your business in good stead for a more productive 2021.

Unprotected data

As small businesses become increasingly digital, the cybersecurity risks become greater. This is news to some SMEs, with research that Optus conducted earlier this year finding that two in five SMEs think that they’re too small to be a cybersecurity target.

While your business may not have the same resources as a larger organisation, there are measures you can put in place to guard against cyber threats. Basic precautions include holding refresher training with employees on the importance of cybersecurity, ensuring that strong passwords are used and regularly upgrading your company’s security software.

Products from key security providers in the SME space include Trustwave, Cisco and Fortinet, which have a selection of options that you can choose from. You can also find out more information via the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Small Business Cyber Security Guide.

Ignoring digital marketing

In this digital era, word-of-mouth is more relevant than ever, with reviews for products and services found at the touch of a button. Your website is your company’s digital shopfront and consumers are constantly connected to devices so expect instant support and personalisation.

Now is a great time to re-evaluate your current online customer experience, so why not jump into your platforms and view each through the lens of a customer.

Lack of agility

2020 has shown us that when needed, small businesses can be the pioneers of innovation, as their lack of red tape and stakeholders afford them extra flexibility. Seeing opportunity in every crisis and innovating is critical. As SMEs develop their yearly plans, it’s important for business owners to be flexible enough to change them as needed.

One way to ensure your company stays agile and reacts to emerging trends is scheduling regular meetings with key team members. These are beneficial not only to allow for dedicated time to plan for your company’s future but to also assess the current business landscape and react quickly.

Poor communication

With so much of the workforce now working remotely, it’s important to connect with your employees on a regular basis and continue to share awareness about your company’s goals and values. You might implement new rewards or benefits or offer training and learning opportunities to reward your employees’ hard work.

It’s also a good idea to review your customer communication. Proper customer relationship management software tools, such as Hubspot, Salesforce and Apptivo are becoming crucial so that you can build your customer data and better understand how to serve them.

Personal habits

For many small businesses, 2020 has been a year of digital transformation further blurring the lines between work and home life and creating some bad habits along the way.

Heads Up, an initiative developed by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and beyondblue, has a number of useful resources to make sure that you’re putting your health first in 2021.

Libby Roy, Managing Director, Optus SMB