“Business plan” – you know you should have one, but do your eyes glaze over at the thought of a 40-page document with multiple appendices? It seems daunting, but your business needs a working plan to stay on track. With the world changing so quickly, though, a streamlined 2021 business plan that can easily be updated based on short-notice adjustments may be the perfect solution.

A simple 2021 business plan can get your thoughts organized and keep you focused on your end-results while remaining fluid as things continue to change in the New Year. By referring to your streamlined 2021 business plan, you’ll see all the parts of your business in one place and understand how a change to one area will impact another. 

In this blog, we’ll walk you through how to draft a lean 2021 business plan on one page that can keep up with the rapidly changing world that we’re in. Keep in mind that you can go into more detail as needed for any of the areas of your business on a separate sheet of paper. The point is to get a simple plan on paper and adjust basic details as you go.

Building a 2021 Business Plan Around The Problem You Solve 

First, focus on the solution you offer and the problem you solve. Your problem statement is the answer to “what do you do, and why do you do it?” In a few sentences, your problem statement calls out your product or service, the problem you solve, who you solve it for, and how you do it differently. 

Here’s how to write an effective problem statement that reflects the current state of your business. 

Identify Who You Serve

To describe your target customer, you should create a buyer persona or ideal customer avatar (I offer resources for creating your ideal customer avatar here). These profiles help you zero in on demographics like age, gender, location, and affluence of your customer, for targeting; and psychographics like values, opinions, goals, and hopes for messaging.

In addition, due to recent events, you might want to add details about how your buyer’s needs may have changed. For example, if you own a retail location, make notes about how your customer is adapting – does she have children? Will she appreciate a curbside pick-up option? Is she older, and will she now rely more heavily on delivery services?

Review the Problem You Solve & The Solution you Offer 

Now that you’ve refreshed your buyer persona – it’s time to consider the problem you address and how you plan to continue solving it.  

The problem you solve could be any pain, challenge, or obstacle that gets between your buyer and their bigger goals, needs, or desires. The solution you offer will be a product, service, or other exchange that supports your audience’s needs. 

The problem you solve (or the way you solve it) may have shifted due to recent events. As you adapt to your buyer’s new needs – you’ll need to ensure that you stay true to your core values, competencies, and business goals. 

Pivot Your Value Proposition

Between shifts in your audience, their challenges, and your offering – your value proposition probably shifted as well. 

Your value proposition statement answers ‘why’ someone should do business with you. It helps potential customers understand why your service or product will be of more value to them than similar offerings from your competition.

When pivoting your value proposition, it’s important to remember these key points:

  • Keep it simple and easy to understand
  • Explain how you resolve a problem or pain point for your audience
  • Share proof on how you’ve successfully leveraged your value proposition (i.e. over 1000 happy customers, established in 1972, satisfaction guaranteed, etc.) 

Sales and Marketing 

Once you’ve refreshed your problem statement, you’ll want to refresh your marketing as well. Your key messages and brand values may have shifted to reflect the changes in your business. 

Between the pandemic and other breaking news, it can be hard to stand out. Here are a few tips for creating memorable marketing that can adapt to the times for your 2021 business plan:

Make it personal. A note on messaging: It’s ok to be open with your clients and customers about how life and business have changed. Aim for a ‘we’re all in this together’ tone. Sharing case studies and telling stories about how you’re helping customers is a great way to become more relatable and put a human touch behind your brand. 

Invest in social. Outline how you’ll spread the word about your business with new prospects and stay top of mind with customers. Take a fresh look at your email marketing, content marketing, and social media strategies for 2021. These strategies still provide the best ROI at the lowest cost compared to other mass media.

Go all-in with digital selling. If you’ve been dipping your toes into the digital waters, this is the time to go all-in. While the world has had to adapt quickly, there are no signs that we’ll be returning to the “old normal.” Super-hygienic contactless service and payment formats, curbside delivery, and “click and collect in-store” are here to stay. Consumers appreciate the safety of these services now. But they will demand these conveniences as they come to rely on them later. Adapt your point-of-sale systems and get your online cart up to snuff immediately.

Assess Your Financials

Now for the elephant in the room – your bottom line. As things continue to change, financials can be an ongoing uncertainty. In your streamlined 2021 business plan, consider creating three key financial targets: a minimum baseline, a modest growth estimate, and a stretch goal. 

Your baseline target should represent a number you must hit to comfortably cover your essential costs (remember your payroll, taxes, and a little cushion for unexpected expenses). This figure won’t have much profit, but it’ll cover your key expenses and ensure your business can weather the storm. 

Next, create a target goal that would represent modest growth or maintain previous growth. This number would show that times are difficult but that you’re exploring new opportunities in your marketplace.

Finally, set stretch goals that push your team forward. This number is a helpful goal if you find new market opportunities or as your industry begins to rebound.  

When things are constantly changing, refreshing your full marketing plan can be an unnecessary time suck. By creating a simple 2021 business plan, you can keep your business on track as the market continues to shift. 

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