Making the most of EOY downtime

End of year downtime

If your business is going through its quieter period right now, there's still plenty you can do to take advantage of this time of year and start 2021 two steps ahead.

At a glance

Here's a snapshot of the advice from our interviewees:

  • Use your spare time to create marketing content for your business.
  • Seek feedback from your customers about how you can improve your service in 2021.
  • Read a good business book and start the New Year feeling inspired.
  • Reevaluate your workspace to make sure it’s still working for you.

For small businesses whose clients typically go on leave over the summer, the end of the year can be the perfect time to get on the front foot and prepare for the upcoming one.

While it’s also important you take a well-earned break to recharge and refuel, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you’re able to make 2021 yours for the taking, such as improving business processes, researching new markets or nurturing growth ideas.

Two Kiwi small business experts share some advice:

1. Review your customer experience

Now that you’ve finally got the space to take a breather, it’s a good time to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, says Debra Chantry-Taylor, head coach at Ventell Business Coaching.

Consider if your services have changed this year due to the pandemic, she says. If so, your customer journey might need optimising.

“Get yourself a whiteboard or large piece of paper and brainstorm every aspect of your customers’ journey. Where are the touchpoints? Do you have everything you need to provide the ultimate experience? What do you need to improve?”

She suggests speaking to your customers directly – face-to-face if possible – so you can get a better read on what you’re doing well and where you can improve. Sending out a survey is another great way to gather customer sentiment.

Also, ask yourself if the customers you went into 2020 with are the same people following you into 2021? For example, perhaps when you moved your services online you opened your business up to a new market without even realising it.

Use this time to dig into the data you have on your customer base – that might be through Google Analytics or social media data – and make sure your entire business strategy is aligned with your ideal customer of 2021.

2. Re-think your marketing approach

You might consider revisiting your marketing plan and goals to ensure you’re getting in front of the right people, with the right message – especially if your customer set changed during 2020.

As we’ve previously shared on the Prospa Blog, that could include focusing on brand building rather than just product/service promotion, i.e. taking the time to tell your business’s story to ensure you remain front of mind for consumers when they’re ready to start spending.

“It’s also important to think about how things have changed. Since the lockdown, people who would never have considered online shopping are starting to embrace it,” says Chantry-Taylor.

“How might this change where your audience is hanging out, and how you communicate with them? What can you do differently to ensure your customers still find you and engage with you?”

For example, do they prefer social media snippets or are they looking for longer form content so they can better understand your offering?

Ask yourself if the customers you went into 2020 with are the same people following you into 2021?

Mel Robert, director at Everybody Sings, which facilitates community choirs across New Zealand, says now is the prime time to prepare such marketing assets.

“We’re creating showreels and ‘best of’ moments, featuring content from the past year, which we’ll share via our social channels,” Robert says.

“This will highlight the great things we’ve done and keep people engaged [with our brand]. Connecting with our community digitally was so important during the COVID-19 lockdown – and will be equally important during the quieter holiday period.”

If you don’t want to create content yourself, spend time writing down ideas, so you outsource to a content specialist in the New Year, Robert adds.

3. Revamp your workspace

“Take some time to sit in your workplace and think about the way you work,” says Chantry-Taylor. “Has it changed over the past year? Is the environment still working for you?”

She suggests thinking about strategic investments to also optimise your way of working – such as new software platforms or equipment that could make life easier.

“You can justify the [costs] if it would save you or your team precious time. For each potential purchase, do a mini business case,” she suggests. Because it’s not about the initial outlay but what you’ll get in return that you should focus on.

Doing a bit of a reshuffle of your space can also make a significant difference, she adds.

“If there’s a team member you always talk to or a piece of equipment you use regularly, think about if it/they could be closer to you?

“Don’t forget to declutter, too. Is there stuff that’s now redundant because of changes in your business? If so, get it onto TradeMe and start making your work environment a better place to be in.”

4. Read a business book for inspo

If you don’t have the energy to make large scale business improvements, you can focus on a more achievable goal, like finishing a good business book.

“When you’re planning your holiday, pick a good book to take with you and, just like a gratitude journal, plan to read for at least 10 minutes per day. You’ll be surprised how much you get through,” says Chantry-Taylor.

“My favourites would be Get a Grip by Gino Wickman and Mike Paton, or Patrick Lencioni’s The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. Both are written as a business fable, which makes them an easy read, and both have very important messages for business owners and leaders.”

Three Kiwi small business owners offer their summer reading recommendations in this Prospa Blog post.

Got some big ideas cooking but need a little help getting the funds together to make it happen? Don’t stress, we’ve got you. Find out more about a Prospa Small Business Loan.

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