5 Things a Small Business Should Consider During a Downturn

JOSEPH DOOHAN | March 31, 2020

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No matter what your business is, you are likely to have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak Covid-19. As a result, your business activities have probably reduced or even been suspended for the time being until the crisis is over. At this difficult time, you should consider it an opportunity to reassess the aspects of your organisation such as the operations and the financial outgoings. By taking these considerations, you will effectively put your business in a better footing coming out of a crisis. If you are a business owner, here are 5 questions to ask yourself regarding your business during a downturn;

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8 Small Business Resolutions for the Fiscal Year - 2021-2022

Article | July 28, 2021

2020 was a year of unprecedented incidents to the world as well as businesses. Now when the year is winding down, it is a time to get back on track with a bang. It is time for reassessment, better preparations, new opportunities, intelligent business strategies, and reshaped small business resolutions for the year 2021 and beyond to fight against new business challenges. 2020 had been the toughest for business owners, and 2021 is more demanding and challenging, especially for small businesses. However, small business owners must consider external and internal factors when planning for the upcoming years with a new set of contemporary small business goals. You have come a long way despite the setbacks and challenges thrown at you by unforeseeable circumstances, and you have gained a new set of experiences. Are you ready to return to business with a bang and build a more substantial business in 2021? If so, here are a few small business resolutions for 2021 to help your company thrive in the fiscal year. Review your business goals and plan A good business plan acts as a roadmap for business success. Hence, it is vital to review your business plan and goals at the start of every financial year. Then, keep this as your primary fiscal year 2021 budget resolution. Evaluation of your business plan helps you assess your last year's progress, failures and helps you to focus on the areas that need your attention. With every passing year, small business goals keep changing as per the current situation and try to adapt to the new changing business trends. Therefore, your plan needs to reflect the latest goals that small business owners plan to accomplish. It is essential to review and update your business plan focusing on the latest financial goals and marketing ideas to grow and taste success in 2021. Reviewing and updating a business plan is one of the first considerations of small business resolutions. Make online presence As the world has become more digitalized, the need for a small business to have an online presence has become essential. Having a website proved to be an asset for small business owners during the COVID-19 crisis because it allowed them to connect and stay in touch with their customers. Establishing an online presence makes your business visible, reachable and allows businesses to engage with customers. Establishing an online presence is one of the most popular and requested small business resolutions. Having an online presence entails developing a website as well as posting and engaging on social media accounts. Once your small business has an online presence, create content about your products, services, and offerings through your blogs and social media platforms. Re-evaluate your financial situation Botched financial management can cost you a big deal; that is why it is necessary to re-evaluate your financial situation every year to plan your business finance according to the current situation. Re-evaluating your finances is one of the intrinsic small business resolutions for the systematic workflow of the business. Here are few financial resolutions: • You can identify areas for improvement by reviewing your spending each month. • Pay down high-interest credit card debt. • Securing a flexible source of financing that provides you with quick access to the funds you require to grow. • Invest more money in the future of your company (short-term and long-term goals). Tune up your customer service Exceptional customer service is critical for modern and digitalized businesses of the future. According to the report, customers are more likely to become repeat customers due to the company's excellent customer service. Small businesses may provide excellent customer service, but it is necessary to improve it constantly. Therefore, small business goals must consider 2020 mistakes and attempt to avoid them in the future. It is predicted that soon, customer service will be more important than price, product, or service in a customer's decision. Therefore, ensure that your customer does not have a negative experience; negative experiences leave a long-term imprint on the customer's memory. As a result, your business may suffer severe consequences. According to Harvard Business Review, investing in new customers is up to 25 times more expensive than investing in existing ones. Enhancing your customer service is an essential aspect of small business resolutions for the upcoming year and beyond. Refresh your marketing strategy Marketing happened to be the backbone of business strategies, especially for small businesses during the pandemic. However, every year, new marketing trends emerge, and small businesses should be aware of these business trends and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly. Therefore, refreshing your marketing strategy is one of the imperative small business resolutions. Be inventive in your marketing strategies. Analyze the success and failures of your marketing efforts over the previous year and update your current marketing plan aptly. However, make sure that your business objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Email marketing is considered one of the best marketing tactics for small businesses. Besides, it is the primary channel for lead generation for 89% of marketers. It is consistently ranked as the single most effective tactic for meeting their awareness, acquisition, conversion, and retention goals. Expand your network It is vital to invest time to build your networks. Small business owners often ignore this aspect, but it is a pressing priority of 2021. Make connections with other entrepreneurs, meet your competitors, pay visits to your suppliers, and keep a record of everyone you know. It is propitious to expand your network because it allows you to form relationships with others and encourage them to refer customers to you via viva voce. In addition, networking can lead to the discovery of new clients, opportunities, vendors, collaborators, service providers, and even new friends. Below are few techniques that can help you to expand your business network: • Take your current network to the next level. • Locate networking events. • Set objectives for the event. • Maintain symbiotic relationships. • Look for new faces. Review your insurance coverage Even if cash is tight or revenues are down, small businesses should not ignore their insurance needs. Small business insurance is one of the most essential components of safeguarding your livelihood, yourself, employees, and even customers. Hence, small business owners must have comprehensive insurance coverage and regularly review and update their coverage as their circumstances change. Ascertain that you understand what is and is not covered. Furthermore, as your company grows, you should review your coverage regularly. Few insurance agents will review your current policy and make recommendations based on your company's specific needs, as well as identify any discounts you may be eligible for. Besides, once you have determined what type of policy or policies you require, you can compare prices from various insurance companies to find the best value. Prioritize and upgrade company culture The hallmark of any successful business lies in making the workplace great and healthy for work. So if your small business relies on the work of employees, focusing on prioritizing and upgrading your company culture as well as nurturing your employees, is an excellent resolution for 2021. The previous year was stressful for both employees and employers, which can harm workplace productivity. It is crucial to foster an inclusive and empowering work environment. Take a survey to find out what changes employees would like to see in terms of culture, and then create a company culture that reflects their needs. Employee satisfaction leads to productivity and innovation. In addition, employees are more motivated to take pride in their work and the company they work for when they feel safe, respected, and have a sense of ownership. FAQs: How to write resolutions for small businesses? Examine all aspects of your small business from the previous year to create a solid list of resolutions for the coming year. Consider your successes and failures and work to alleviate them. What is a resolution for a business? In business, a resolution is a proposal made during a meeting of the company's shareholders or directors. It is discussed, and its approval represents an official confirmation of any action that the company will take. Resolutions are classified into four types: elective, extraordinary, unique, and ordinary. Why should every business have a resolution? Resolutions help to focus your efforts and energy on new goals and reaching new heights. In addition, resolutions enable business owners to understand where they can increase efficiency and grow over the coming year. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How to write resolutions for small businesses?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Examine all aspects of your small business from the previous year to create a solid list of resolutions for the coming year. Consider your successes and failures and work to alleviate them." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What is a resolution for a business?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "In business, a resolution is a proposal made during a meeting of the company's shareholders or directors. It is discussed, and its approval represents an official confirmation of any action that the company will take. Resolutions are classified into four types: elective, extraordinary, unique, and ordinary." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Why should every business have a resolution?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Resolutions help to focus your efforts and energy on new goals and reaching new heights. In addition, resolutions enable business owners to understand where they can increase efficiency and grow over the coming year." } }] }

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The Horeca Sector Cannot Escape the Universal Trends Either

Article | July 28, 2021

The term "Horeca" is an abbreviation of "Hotel", "Restaurant" and "Café". It represents a very diverse sector, i.e. from star-restaurants to catering and canteens to brasseries up to small, local cafes. A small country like Belgium counted end 2017 almost 60.000 horeca-enterprises (7% of all Belgian enterprises), thus showing the importance of this sector. Furthermore with a total revenue (also end 2017) of over 15 billion EUR and more than 75.000 people employed in this sector, it remains an important economical actor for the Belgian economy. It is undisputable that the Covid crisis has been a disaster for this sector. However, now that life gradually returns back to normal, it is likely that the trends which were already launched in the horeca sector before the crisis will be even enforced and accelerated. With new habits come new customer needs related to the horeca. Think about the company canteens. With more people working from home, this sector will have to reinvent itself. Most likely they will start offering also prepared meals directly to consumers via supermarkets and other distribution channels. Obviously, this will force other actors in this market to reinvent themselves, thus launching a chain reaction. Even more pronounced is the impact of take-away and delivery. While a large group of the population was still a bit hesitant to consume take-away, the Covid-confinements also forced this group to start exploring these new services. At the same time, restaurants which were not offering take-away services before were also forced to adapt. As a result, take-away and meal delivery services have known an exponential boost and this trend, although it will know a small set back when the pandemic is fully over, is here to stay. Unfortunately the horeca sector was already a sector with a lot of difficulties before the crisis. The sector historically copes with one of the highest percentages of businesses bankruptcies , especially when looking at the first 5 years following the establishment of the business. This is often caused by the fact that many people consider the horeca as an easy way to entrepreneurship, founding their businesses with a poor of even no business plan. At the same time there is of course the strong dependency on labor. As this sector is very labor intensive, margins are low due to the high labor costs. Furthermore with hard work and irregular and long working hours, horeca businesses have more and more difficulties to find motivated and qualified personnel. Additionally the sector, being so fragmented, often lacks professionalism, not really for the horeca-activity (i.e. the preparation and serving of food and drinks) itself, but rather for the supporting activities like financial management, supply chain management (like good stock management), procurement… This makes that many restaurants have a poor view on the breakdown of their costs and revenues, thus losing a lot of money in inefficiencies like expired stocks due to too large ordering, certain dishes which are not sold at the right price, employees being paid too much expensive overhours, bad negotiations with suppliers… Apart from the above very obvious trends, there are still a lot of other trends. These map perfectly with the 8 universal trends, I described in my earlier blog "Universal trends - Common over all industries?" - https://bankloch.blogspot.com/2021/01/universal-trends-common-over-all.html, i.e. Pressure on margins: margins are historically already low in the horeca sector, but are becoming even more under pressure, due to new forms of competition, like meal boxes (like HelloFresh or Foodbag), prepared meal services (like Mealhero), sharing platforms (like Thuisafgehaald or Menu Next Door), virtual restaurants (also called Dark Kitchens, i.e. restaurants without a physical location, but only serving online delivery platforms), living room and concept restaurants… This forces restaurants to work more professionally and efficiently and find a specific niche (of clientele willing to pay extra for specific product or experience). These efficiency gains can be achieved via digitalization (with regards to personnel management, cash register, stock management…) and new technologies (like 3D printers or cocktail machines like "Tenderone", "Bottletender"…), but also by being more selective on opening hours/days (especially for weekends and holidays), putting less (more specialized) choice on the menu card, making dishes less complex by investing more in the quality of the ingredients, by pushing more self-service (e.g. let the customer cut the food for the whole table, which has as a welcome benefit that it increase the customer experience). Trustworthiness: clients must have confidence (trust) in a horeca place they are visiting. Obviously, the customers must have the feeling of being treated fairly and respectfully (e.g. via a transparent and correct pricing), but they also want to be able to trust the product they are consuming (eating or drinking). This means providing more transparency, like providing more info about each dish and more its ingredients (important for specific diets and allergies), nutritional value and origin of the product (i.e. farm-to-table). Frictionless experience: the customer experience should be at pleasant as possible, meaning any friction should be removed where possible. This consists of frictionless ordering processes, via digital menu cards (providing details of each dish and allowing easy filtering) and direct ordering (directly to the kitchen), all the way to a frictionless checkout, consisting of digitally receiving and paying the bill. A multitude of solutions are available here, like full ERP solutions for horeca businesses (like Apicbase, Horeko, Square for restaurants, HorecaMakers, Growzer…), digital menu card solutions (like Kimeru, Digital Wizards, Futuresto, EasyButler…), ordering terminals and apps (like Futuresto, EasyButler, MyOrder, QCard, PayMyTable…), cash registers (like Lightspeed, RestoMax, Gastrofix, HorecaMakers…). Personalization: the most important trend for the horeca is obviously the personalization. This results in products and services adapted to the specific needs and desires of every customer. Additionally horeca businesses are being converted more and more into "Experience" places (i.e. surprise your customers, by selling them moments and letting them escape from the stress of day-to-day life), i.e. ensure to give the customer a unique, unforgettable experience, not only via the food and service, but also via the texture and color of the dishes, the building, the interior design… More in detail this trend means: New types of restaurants, like living room restaurants (enforcing a more personal touch and home feeling), concept restaurants, food markets, pop-up restaurants… Accommodating for different food and drink choices. Already around 20-25% of people have a specific food choice, meaning restaurants have to accomodate for people wanting to eat vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, paleo, biological… Additionally people want alternatives for the traditional wine-card like different types of water, mocktails, non-alcoholic wine, champagne and spirits (e.g. Seedlip), luxury soft drinks (e.g. Crodino, Finley, Pinky Rose, Fentimans & Fritz-Kola) or special types of tea to drink the meal. Horeca places should become places to socialize, i.e. provide a home-feeling (i.e. a feeling of comfort, stability, trust, intimacy, warmth…), engage socializing between guests via guest tables, street food or sharing plates… Allow customers to compose their dishes themselves, cfr. Subway, Hawaiian Poke Bowl… Democratization: by working more efficiently, more automation and digitalization, it becomes possible to offer certain services and products in higher volumes and at lower costs and thus at a lower pricing. This means certain horeca products, which were before only available to the happy-few cannot be offered to a larger segment of the population. A good example are star-restaurants offering a standardized (simpler) version of their dishes via a take-out or catering service. Authenticity: restaurants are focusing more and more on providing an authentic experience, e.g. by transforming old factories or churches to restaurants, integrating open kitchens where guests can see the cooks preparing the dishes, chefs finishing plates at the customer’s table… Additionally there is a trend towards pure, simple and honest, meaning natural, artisanal and/or high-quality products (ingredients), which are prepared and served in a simple way. A good example of this are also the traditional dishes in a more luxury fashion, e.g. new types of éclairs (Chez Claire), croques (RemorK), hamburgers (Ellis Gourmet burger), meat balls (Balls & Glory)… ESG (Environment, Social and Corporate Governance): with customers being more sensitive about the environment and society, horeca places need to accommodate to this customer desire. Restaurants are working more and more with local, healthy (e.g. use of superfoods, use of less salt and fat…), biological/organic and Fairtrade products, but also with products with a lower ecological footprint, like e.g. replacing meat with insects, soya-based meat replacements or vegetables. Additionally horeca players need to avoid waste, via a no-waste kitchen concept (via e.g. smaller portions, trash cooking, creative usage of waste…), via anti-food-waste platforms (like Too Good To Go) and by reducing/avoiding packaging (e.g. avoiding plastic straws, cups…). Partnerships: as many businesses, a horeca business is more and more integrated in a concept, like incorporated in a shop or combined with an experience (like a horeca place in a brewery). Additionally due to the digital revolution, horeca places need to partner more and more with online ordering and delivery services (like Deliveroo, TakeAway.com or UberEats, potentially integrated via Deliverect), social media (like Facebook and Instagram) and food review platforms (like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, Foursquare…), reservation platforms (like TheFork, Tablebooker, Resto.be…) ordering and payment apps (like Dorst.app or Yummy.app). Additionally new players are coming on the market to help horeca businesses with their typical problems, like procurement (e.g. Tippr or Horeca Direct Shop) or recruitment (e.g. Mise en Place). It is clear that although the horeca sector is already centuries old, it is also undergoing major disruptions. In the end let us hope that all those evolutions can give us an even more enjoyable horeca experience.

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HOW TO ADDRESS CYBERSECURITY CHALLENGES USING THE NIST FRAMEWORK

Article | July 28, 2021

For small businesses, this is cause for alarm. Lacking the time, IT expertise, and deep pockets of major companies, the small businesses that make up the foundation of the economy are sitting ducks — especially considering that 43% of all cyberattacks target small businesses specifically. In order to help small and midsize businesses get ahead of this issue, Congress passed the Small Business Cybersecurity Act in 2018. In essence, the act required the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to make small business cybersecurity a bigger priority, offering free and accessible resources appropriate for companies of all sizes. The act resulted in the Small Business Cybersecurity Corner website. Launched in 2019, it provides a centralized source of everything from information about dangerous cyberattacks to employee training tips. By all accounts, the NIST has met its mandate by making cybersecurity less confusing and risky for the businesses that suffer the most. Now it’s up to those small businesses to take that advice and run with it.

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Covid-19: Help for your Small Business

Article | July 28, 2021

The federal government's stimulus PPP for small businesses, the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which offers forgivable loans to small businesses, ran out of money on last week. Over the weekend, Democrats and Republicans were negotiating a deal that would allocate $310 billion more into the Paycheck Protection Program, setting aside $60 billion of that sum for rural and minority groups. Another $60 billion would go to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, a separate program offering loans for small businesses administered by the Small Business Association.

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Expert360

During our time at Bain & Company, we saw the power of contingent workers and consultants as a means to get support and expertise to supercharge organisations and create real change. At that time, corporations lacked the ability to easily augment staff, build handpicked consultant teams, hire top individual short-term talent and engage with subject matter experts and boutique firms.

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