2020, the year that introduced us to the “new normal”, made us sample the might and power of uncertainty. It made what we took for granted, precious, what we deemed familiar, became a distant memory quickly. And yes, it was totally unexpected.
But at the end of 2020, and despite everything we had to go through, I can say that we have managed to survive and adapt to that “new normal.”
The question is: are you prepared for 2021?
From a startup perspective, 2021 is not the year of glamourous planning, using the typical buzzwords. It is rather the year to focus on what you can do and challenge yourself to do it really well. It is the year for value for the customer and from the customer. 2021 is the year of focus!
Focus On Customers
In 2021, customers are going to be challenged with so much, just like you. They will be looking for tools to help them get by, solve problems, and get some sense of control over the expected uncertainty of the disease, potential unemployment, and assumed financial risks. Focus on your customer, understand their current challenges, talk to them, have open and honest conversations with them. Find out how you can offer them a better way to run their day to day tasks, how they can fulfill their responsibilities, and how they can feel better about themselves while doing all of that.
Basically, don’t be like a mobile network that is not providing reliable 4G and phone call connections in the time of social distancing. Customers in 2021 will be seeking the most consistent and reliable products and services they can afford to keep day to day tasks running smooth. Be reliable!
Focus On Customer Retention
In 2021, do not focus on growth hacking techniques that require cash burning. These ideas are part of the old normal; this is the new normal, ladies and gentlemen. Customer retention in 2021 will be the best offense in an unpredictable year. Give your customers the respect, the time, and the feedback loop they need.
The stronger the relationship, the less you have to spend on marketing and customer acquisition. The stronger the relationship, the more you make the competition less effective, and all its marketing spending useless. 2021 will be the year of the informative newsletter, the year of value-focused product updates, and the year where community PR will be critical for survival.
Focus On Building A Relatable Brand Name
2021 is the year for brand names that are relatable to customers. Many customers will not have the luxury to take risks on brands they do not know and will not use products or services that do not represent them. So make sure that your brand is clearly reflecting the value you promise your customer as well as the values your customer expects you to uphold. Think of creative ways to make your branding special, simple, and specific. And this will only happen when you clearly understand your customers and the value you are offering them. 2021 will be the year for relatable brands.
Focus On Keeping Your Team Together
In 2021, I believe many employees in startups will consider moving to corporate jobs in search of more stability and personal growth. Your second biggest focus in 2021 after your customers, is to keep your team together and support them to be mentally and emotionally resilient. Allow them to get a sense of ownership of their work and offer them the opportunity to express their minds and ideas regularly. Be very clear about the objectives of every task and the deadlines that come with it. Ensure they get clear feedback on the results of their activities and clearly explain the pros and cons.
And Most of All, Focus on Yourself
Yes, you are the founder, and your job is to take care of everyone, lead the team, manage your investors, customers, and employees. But, you need to take good care of yourself. Do not under any circumstances believe that you must sacrifice your well being for the startup to succeed! Think of it this way; your startup will survive because you can perform your job. So make sure you are balancing sleep, diet, and fun with the pressures of work.
Focus on your customers, not your competitors. Focus on value and not products.
Goodwill and Respect!