7 focus areas to prioritise for 2021 your success
My Sydney northern beaches Christmas was a fizzer. Living just a few kms from the ‘Avalon cluster’ ground zero, the notoriously ‘insular peninsular’ finally got its wish and seceded from the rest of Australia. Not exactly Alcatraz, but lockdown was not conducive to the relaxation, recharging and re-booting that many of us were hanging out for.
On one hand this was shit! On the other, it is a reminder that the world has changed enormously in the last ten months. As we enter a new year with more need of hope than ever before, it’s a good time to reflect on where things are now and how you may need to adapt.
What’s going on?
What follows is my take on the best way to approach 2021 – for you, your business, your happiness and your success. Could I be wrong – hell yeah! But I am confident that I am at least in the right ballpark.
Without doubt the pandemic has massively accelerated pre-existing trends. I have talked about ‘five years of change in five weeks.’ That still feels about right.
I hope these ideas act as a thought-starter for your own reflections. We all need to answer the question, ‘How do I need to change up my game for a very different world and marketplace?’
The biggest unknown is to what degree we will return to a pre-covid ‘normal’ once the vaccination programmes create herd immunity, hopefully in the second half of the year? My view is that we will never go back. Instead, we will live in an ongoing state of evolving flux. Some have called this a hybrid-normal.
This has manifested in multiple ways, but the biggest shifts are:
- Work from home/local model and the corresponding shift of connection and commerce from central offices to local communities and businesses.
- Restrictions on travel and traditional shopping/dining/entertainment/sport creating innovation in online services, virtual products and delivery to the home.
- Some business sectors being decimated (travel, aviation, traditional retail) whilst others enjoying extraordinary growth (e-commerce, online meeting, e-learning)
7 areas it will pay to prioritise
Whilst the overall trend is clear, where and when we will finally rebalance is unknowable. What you can take to the bank, is a need to significantly adapt the plans you had this time last year.
From the work I am doing with businesses and individuals, here are 7 key areas I believe you need to focus on at a business and professional level to maximise your chance of successfully negotiating this period of unparalleled turbulence and opportunity.
1. Clarity of offer
You must be 100% clear on how what you do, provide or make helps your customer. You have to develop laser clarity about who you help and place that customer at the centre of your service and marketing. In 2020, I become a certified StoryBrand guide to increase my knowledge in this area. It is about making your customer the HERO and showing how you (as the GUIDE) help them to succeed/prosper/avoid pain/achieve their dream/solve their problem.
On the back of this, I completely changed my own website, because I had inadvertently made myself the Hero. There is a good chance that your business is making the same mistake. Does it talk about the customer needs/problems and offer them a clear process to do business with you? Or does it talk about you, your history, your mission, your products/services/awards? It is a subtle twist that changes everything. I’ll be running a masterclass soon to go deeper into this.
If you do not have message/product/brand clarity, you are confusing your potential customer. That’s never good, but right now, where we are all a little confused and overwhelmed, it’s a guarantee that your customer will move on.
This will be one of my longer posts for 2021. With all of that overwhelm and confusion, our attention spans are short. You must do everything you can do condense, edit, and reduce your offer to its essence.
In the same vein, one of the over-arching trends from 2020 is that many people are looking for a simpler life, with less stuff and fewer frills. If your offering is clear, brief and easy to understand you will win. You will also thrive if doing business with you is quick and easy, so think about your processes, packaging, delivery options and support services.
4. Brand Personality
2020 accelerated digital transformation. Everyone and everything is online. Most customer journeys now start with some kind of online interaction. You need to make sure you have an engaging, attractive and authentic brand – your online shop window to the world.
Many businesses do this poorly – again tending to make themselves the Hero rather than show how they do a brilliant job of serving YOU – their customer.
Most individuals have not even started, instead living under the brand of their employer. It is estimated that by 2027, over 50% of US workers will work for themselves in some way. That means the days of long-term job security working for a few employers over a career are gone. You must take responsibility for your own future.
You need to build a professional brand that clearly articulates;
What you know
Who you help
How you add value and
Why you are different
This can and should still support any employer relationship, but – crucially – belong to YOU. In late January, I’ll be launching my online programme, Building Your Professional Brand to help you build this vital asset.
Covid continues to throw an enormous burden on the world in terms of lives lost, economic damage, mental health et al. The world is hurting. We are hurting. In response to this, we need to be positive and optimistic – as businesses, as leaders, as professionals. People are looking for hope and guidance. Being part of that is both the right thing to do and good business.
At a personal level, I believe you need to carefully regulate your news and information intake. Across the world, the mainstream media has performed poorly. It has done a lot to stoke the fires of fear and alarm. Bad news sells – and boy, was there some bad news. Even today, when the UK has done a good job of securing two viable vaccines at scale, the MSM is stirring the pot about who gets it first ‘gotchas’ and other negative spins on an overwhelmingly positive development.
I find tuning out to the unremitting negativity and misery helps me to stay positive and in the best place to help my customers, my team and myself.
Fairness and equity were a big part of 2020. These are less pandemic-related and more about the race issues in the US that travelled around the world in the Black Lives Matters movement. They were also highlighted in the ugly US presidential election.
Businesses and professionals need to reflect more on this and take action and make changes beyond the tokenistic. I know it is an area I have given little thought to. Once again correcting this is the right thing to do and also smart business. It is something I will be working on this year.
I am learning to windsurf again on a local lake. The wind is gusty and constantly shifting in direction. The key to keeping the board moving and avoiding an unplanned swim is to stay agile – light on the feet and ready for anything to change at any time.
This is how you need to be with your business and yourself in 2021. Ready for anything. That means looking around you for signs of what is coming? It also means creating capability to change and adapt rapidly at a personal, operational and cultural level.
Are you ready?
Are your systems/processes ready?
Are you people ready?
If not, this is the capability you need to be building in yourself and others. Don’t let complacency or habit leave you unprepared to jump on the next opportunity. (Set up a call with me if you need help with this).
Hope is a terrible strategy!
If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll have heard me say that whilst hope is a beautiful quality, it’s a terrible strategy. I still see too many smart people failing to think, anticipate, change or act – until it is too late.
Yet Hope springs eternal!
Notwithstanding a less-than-stellar holiday break, I remain extraordinarily excited and optimistic about 2021. I am confident it will be my best ever year professionally and personally.
I wish you all success for the new year. I hope that the 7 focus areas I have identified here give you some insights and inspiration to develop your own ideas and put them into action.
We’ve got important work to do.
Let’s get to it.