Tweaking Your Business Plan After the Year of the Curveball

Every curveball starts as a fastball – until it dives out of range as it approaches the plate.

The story of the curveball started in 1863 when two friends were throwing seashells on a beach in Brooklyn. Young pitcher William Cummings noticed shells curving in the air and wondered, “what if I could make a baseball move like that?”

After modifying his grip and adjusting his throwing motion for four years, Cummings rose to prominence as a star pitcher for the Brooklyn Excelsiors. It was time to unveil the secret weapon. At age 18, Cummings was pitching against hard-hitting Archibald Bush, and he later admitted he was afraid of Bush’s “prowess with the bat.” Cummings unleashed the curve, and Bush was foiled:

“When he struck at the ball, it seemed to go about a foot beyond the end of his stick,” said Cummings. “I tried again with the same result, and then I realized that I had succeeded at last.”

3 Ways to Reset After a Tumultuous Season

It can be fun to throw curveballs but difficult to receive them.

The year 2020 threw businesses of all sizes a tough curve. Many firms shut doors, released team members, or dipped into emergency funds to make ends meet. Business plans are a crucial part of any normal season, but revising them this year is especially pertinent.

How will you pivot in response to the wild circumstances of 2020? Here are some starting points to consider.

1. Take Stock of Key Changes

Nimble, proactive entrepreneurs respond to change by embracing it.

Take note of what has changed, and be crystal clear about what that means for your business. Have your capacity restrictions or hours shifted? Have legal regulations altered what you can or cannot do? This year may be a perfect time to do an in-depth SWOT analysis, analyzing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

From technology and staffing to new products or team members, clarify how your business has changed or where you need to adapt.

2. Form and Execute Contingency Plans

Do you have a plan B that can be implemented when your business experiences a major disruption?

Outline risk-related scenarios and chart precise strategies to get things back on track. Contingency plans should include:

–Essential operations your business needs to run successfully, including contact information for key partners, suppliers, investors, etc.

–A rundown of possible threats or disruptive events and step-by-step procedures for how to work around each scenario

–Options for aggressive financial restrictions to increase cash flow or savings

–Risk-mitigation steps to help reduce the likelihood of worst-case scenarios

–A communication plan for alerting customers, employees, and other stakeholders of the problem

3. Develop Your 2021 Marketing Plan

While COVID-19 brought many challenges, it has created several new opportunities.

As you develop a new marketing plan, take stock of your chief competitors and your target customers. Reposition your business with the right message, the right media, and the right pricing for your target demographic.

For some firms, this could mean focusing on a core subset of customers to reduce general costs while ramping up revenue in a specific sector. For others, it could mean expanding target regions to compensate for lost foot traffic or in-store sales. Whether it’s widening your audience or narrowing your focus, amp up your marketing and aim confidently for that next pitch.

Perhaps this inning will be your best!

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