Emerging from the pandemic – business planning for 2021
In our latest guest blog, Ron Myers, Director of The Consulting Room Group, discusses business planning for 2021 during COVID-19.
Probably the biggest challenge that many aesthetic business owners will face in 2021 will be maintaining a positive mindset amidst an ocean of negativity, doom and gloom related to the pandemic, the recession and Brexit.
Maintaining a positive state of mind is crucial to making good decisions and motivating your team. Although it can be “easier said than done”, now is not a time to procrastinate, and every single marketer, coach, mentor, or advisor worth their salt will say now is the time to continue to plan to invest in your business when others around you are fearful or in despair about the future.
It makes it easier to take this stance if you’ve experienced more “difficult” trading environments. I have the benefit of personal experience trading through the last “Great Recession” which spanned five quarters from 2008 to 2009. At the time this was the deepest UK recession since the second World War and we were three years into part ownership of a clinic, having invested significantly in a lease, refurbishment, and capital equipment.
No-one in our industry really knew whether “discretionary income” would still be spent on aesthetic treatments. However, we remained positive in our outlook, continued to invest for growth and did not experience any contraction in sales during that period. Indeed, this was the experience of many aesthetic businesses who continued to grow throughout the recessionary period and beyond.
So, if you have a profitable business that was growing before the start of the pandemic, I see no reason why you shouldn’t start to plan for the “light at the end of the tunnel” and a return to more consistent and “normal” trading conditions in the spring.
Recession, or no recession, positively planning for growth and increased profitability is the key. If you think negatively and don’t invest in the right marketing strategies, running a business can be frustrating and potentially devastating if it fails (especially if you do not have the protection of Ltd liability).
Other practical things that you may want to consider this year (depending on the size and scale of your business) are taking advantage of government loans (if you haven’t already) as they end in March. I have written about the benefits of this many times and we have personally secured a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) of £80K for future investment in our business. The CBILS and Bounce Back Loan Schemes (BBLS) offer the best commercial borrowing terms that you will ever have the opportunity to take advantage of, so I would highly recommend that you look at these if you haven’t already.
In addition, exploring current government incentives to take on apprentices is worthwhile. We have had several apprentices working in administrative and customer services roles of our different businesses and have generally had positive experiences of bringing new team members in through this route.
Harnessing your team
If you employ people, motivating them and harnessing their support becomes more critical in an environment where the general news around the economy is negative.
We all know that businesses with motivated teams have a much better chance of achieving their objectives. These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a business leader that isn’t talking about team engagement; after all, research has shown that highly engaged teams are 21 per cent more productive, 22 per cent more profitable, and exhibit significantly lower employee turnover.
Sharing the key numbers in your business at weekly team meetings and getting ideas and support from them about improving these on an ongoing basis keeps them informed and engaged.
The personal touches around people management such as recognition, praise, training and coaching and the interactions between team members are all factors that you should plan for in 2021.
In addition, something that in my opinion is critical to building good relationships in a small close- knit team, is the planning of regular social events such as meals out, going to an escape room, bowling or whatever else gets you out of the clinic environment.
This will be particularly needed once we are able to socialise in person again, following so much disruption in the way that teams have worked through lockdowns and furlough.
Investment in small things like this can pay huge dividends in the harmony of your team and how they perceive you as a business owner.
Education and training
As travel and other restrictions hopefully ease up in the spring, opportunities for training, education, and networking (outside of a ZOOM room) will eventually start to get back to some form of normality.
Many of the large conference organisers have already confirmed dates for this year, with May and June looking like busy months, assuming the virus is under control by then (visit our website www.cosmetictraining.co.uk for latest details).
Although you maybe be more selective than in previous years it’s important that we continue to train and educate ourselves as well as our staff, and this is an important area to continue to budget for in 2021.
Invest for success
Overall, the message that I want to put across is to remain positive and confident in the future of our sector.
There is an ocean of money that will continue to be spent by consumers on aesthetic treatments – and you need to ensure that you are visible to the people who want to spend it; you do not do that by hunkering down and slashing your marketing budget (or prices!).
Remaining positive, and spending the next few weeks planning to grow and improve every aspect of your business is the key to entrepreneurial success in good times and bad.
Well run aesthetic businesses with a focussed strategy and motivated team will still be here when the next recession (hopefully not pandemic!) comes – and some savvy ones will have grown exponent through competitor acquisition or joint ventures as more opportunities present themselves.
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