Planning for 2021 – Addressing the Unknown

The coming year, much like 2020, is filled with uncertainty. Economic and community guidelines are ever-changing, and planning presents new challenges we haven’t seen before. Here at BKE, our goal is to help you plan through the multiple possibilities and prepare for the most successful business year possible.

Over the next month, we are going to be exploring a variety of topics from the perspective of three possible 2021 economic scenarios: a year where restrictions are lifted and the spending is restored to 2019 levels, a year where the restrictions and economic impact of 2020 continue, and a year that falls somewhere in between. Our goal is that at the end of this series, you will be better prepared to develop 2021 business models that can adapt to varying landscapes, and develop solutions and initiatives that will withstand the changes that lay ahead. The series will end with an interactive webinar on planning for 2021, that you can register for here

Our first topic is a component of business that has grown substantially for a number of organizations: digital marketing.

As we explore the possibilities of 2021, and how our businesses will function if the economy opens up and business revenues return to pre-Covid levels, if the restrictions of 2020 continue through the coming year and how the year will look if the economic climate falls somewhere in the middle of the two, we need to take consumers digital expectations into consideration.

One thing we have learned over the past year is that more and more consumers are searching for businesses and making purchases online. What was once “a” tool for businesses has now become one of the most prominent avenues for generating revenue.

It is important to evaluate whether this platform is viable for your business for either visibility or full-on eCommerce. When examining your consumer base’s digital expectations, it is useful to ask if digital transactions with your organization are a temporary fix for your marketplace, or if they will stay in favor if restrictions are listed. Is this a tool you want to retain if the economy returns to 2019 standards?

As a prep to planning, it is also helpful to understand where your organization stands when it comes to digital marketing:

  • Is digital marketing relevant for your business? Will it be relevant if current restrictions are lifted? Has there been a permanent culture shift in your consumer base?

  • What kind of digital investment will you need to make over the next year to stay competitive in the current landscape? Will you need to grow this investment if restrictions stay in place, or we face a hybrid year?

  • Is digital marketing beneficial enough to grow if the economy returns to its prior state?

  • Do you have the necessary resources in place, or will additional staff or up training be needed? Is work from home a necessity/option?

  • How does this digital investment impact your budget for 2021 in all three scenarios? Will this investment come from additional capital, or are there areas you can evaluate and scale down to cover any adaptation needed?

  • What is your expected return on investment from the various digital marketing tools available? These expectations may be different depending on the economic landscape.

  • How will you track your results and spending to make sure marketing is optimized and within budget?

In this episode, we have a special Guest – Hannah Wells, Director of Mainstream Boutique. Since 1991 Mainstream Boutique has been dedicated to caring for others. They are passionate about lifting customers up and making them feel beautiful and believe in the power of community and in the value of strong local communities. We have supported their franchisees with bookkeeping for over a year and we are thrilled to share their story.

Recently we asked Ms. Wells to explore some of these questions as part of her organization’s decision to add an online store:

BKE: What prompted you to add an online store?

Hannah Wells: We are a retail organization focused on building relationships with our customers and caring for them as individuals. When the COVID-19 crisis hit earlier this year, we knew that we needed to offer our customers additional options to stay connected and shop with us in the way they were most comfortable. That desire, coupled with huge digital advancements in the retail industry, made it easier for us to stand up an e-commerce site in record time.

BKE: When you moved to a digital presence, what types of investment did you make within the business? I.e switching job role, extra funding, process changes

Hannah Wells: Because we are a small organization, we needed to get creative. We took out a loan to fund the first phase of our e-commerce project and shifted priorities for two members of our home office team. Thankfully we identified great partners who specialize in e-commerce development who helped us realize our ambitious goals

BKE: Where did you make the financial adjustment to make this happen?

Hannah Wells: As a franchise organization, we reinvest our annual franchise contributions into support for individual franchisees and marketing and advertising to build brand awareness for all Mainstream Boutique stores. Our phase I effort was funded by a separate business loan. Profits from the e-commerce site are shared with franchisees; our portion of the profits will repay the loan and fund the next phase of e-commerce development.

BKE: What was the goal? And are you on track? – What does success look like?

Hannah Wells: In terms of our goal to stay connected to our customers and offer them many ways to connect and shop with us, we are absolutely on track. Our franchisees have done a great job promoting the site as well, and we’re making decisions for the e-commerce site that encourage customers to visit our stores. As a small and growing organization, the ability to increase awareness about the Mainstream Boutique brand is a huge mark of success for us.

Whether it be a way to stay focused and connected to customers, like Mainstream Boutique, or an opportunity for ongoing sustainability within a changing marketplace, making the decision to move to Ecommerce is a decision that can impact a business in a variety of short and long term ways.

As we work through closing out the current year and planning for 2021, it is also important to remember that your business is not alone in uncertainty. Stay tuned as we continue to cover 2021 planning topics in relation to three possible economic scenarios. For more information on how Bookkeeping Express can help you make sure your records are up to date for 2021 planning and all year long, click here to schedule a personal consultation.