After the unprecedented financial challenges of 2020, companies are looking forward to recovery and the post-Covid world. While optimism and energy are the engines that will drive many small businesses forward, it’s also important that we learn the lessons of the past. Let’s look at 6 steps every business owner should be taking to protect their business in the year ahead.

1) Review your strategic plans

Whether your business has thrived over the previous year or faced existential challenges, nothing likely progressed as you predicted it would at the start of 2020. Now isn’t the time to plow on regardless with grand 5-year visions, but to be agile with your planning and accept that economic recovery is can’t be taken for granted. A cold, hard-headed review of the previous year and an objective assessment of the possibilities and risks your industry will face in the future will help ensure that you’re protected against any post-Covid aftershocks.

2) Get finance in place

If you’re preparing for expansion and looking to secure finance, plans for revenue growth should be cautious.  This can be a great time to prepare for growth, but with caveats about future expansion. Over-optimism won’t impress lenders who may already be wary of future losses. Ensure have the resources in place to cover the immediate cost of investment required and enough to cover lower than expected revenues in the early period. Wherever possible, guard against future shocks with adequate insurance. For example, companies such as Fleetcover – fleet insurance specialists, can help you manage your specific risks, ensuring your spend is well-targetted.

3) Review your IT systems

If you’ve not upgraded your IT systems recently, look at them in detail, from a security point of view. How protected are you in case of an attempted data breach or other cyber-attacks?  Don’t imagine that your business is too small to be of interest to hackers. The data you have stored, including client financial information is a valuable commodity that can be re-sold by thieves. Your reputation, and money, are at risk.

Next, look at your customer service.  Quality service is essential to protect your business viability. How does your IT compare with the competition? Can you be better, faster, and more efficient?  Protect your reputation and maintain your customer base, perhaps by transitioning to an online CRM service. These typically store and back up your data in the cloud, making them more secure. Rather than buying a specific software package with a complicated installation procedure, get started immediately, and pay monthly, according to the level of service you use.

4) Invest in your people

Even if you’ve been struggling financially, protect your business and service level by retaining your best talent. Reducing payroll by shedding employees may work in the short term, but when the recovery comes, you’ll need motivated, well-trained people who share your values, look after your customers and help you grow. Protect your business and your reputation by doing whatever you can do to keep your people engaged, so you’re ready to thrive in the post-pandemic environment.