Businesses were hit with challenges and forced to make adjustments in 2020 due to the pandemic. Specifically, 43% provided the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to employees, 34% allowed teleworking, 29% updated policies, and 20% added new services to help their communities. It’s clear 2020 was a year full of surprises and changes, but what about 2021? How can business owners better prepare this year? 

We recently chatted with Daymond John, founder of FUBU and star of ABC’s smash hit, Shark Tank, to get his advice and learn some fresh business tips. We asked him, “What are the top things business owners should be thinking about as they head into an uncertain 2021?” 

Below are some of the key takeaways from our sitdown with the New York Times best-selling author.

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1. Know your why

Daymond John looking at what you have quote small business tips

When it comes to your business, always ask yourself, “Why?” Every time you make a decision, think of the why behind it—whether it’s reminding yourself why you started your business in the first place or asking yourself why you’re planning to invest in something new. 

Every decision can either make or break your business, so feel confident that you’re moving forward with the right ones. Knowing your why behind every decision and seeing it clearly is one of the first things you should start thinking about more. 

Daymond shares his business tip below.

“The first thing is looking at what you have and why are you doing it? Is the shop too big because you wanted to have a physical presence? Are you doing it because your partner told you to or you think society is looking at you? So, what is the real reason why you are doing it? And that will be a start. You want to ask that question.”

2. Write your obituary 

An interesting concept Daymond talked about is obituaries. He recommended business owners write down their obituaries to help guide them towards a purposeful destination. Not only is this a creative exercise, but it re-energizes your mind to think with a new approach and perspective. 

Daymond shares why this process is valuable and offers steps on how to get started.

“Write your obituary right now. It’s going to be very sobering, and write your obituary about you professionally, as you personally. And that will probably guide you and give you a North Star to some of the things that you want to do. You should write your obituary of you now and your obituary of your perfect self. Look at those things and take inventory of that.”

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3. Examine your assets

After writing your obituary, Daymond recommends looking at your assets. Examining your inventory and assets is a popular business tip for a reason. Your current assets determine what resources you have to work with and sparks new opportunities to consider. 

When looking at your assets, take Daymond’s thought process into account.

“Look at the assets—the hard assets that are around and the phantom assets, like the friends, the family, the money on tap, the inventory, the geographic location. Do you still even need to have a geographic location? If not, maybe you want to work out of the Bahamas. What are the cases?”

4. Build a roadmap and set goals

After you’ve defined your North Star and examined your assets, start building a roadmap and setting goals. This step is key because this is going to outline how and when your business is going to navigate throughout the year. 

Do your research and map out a realistic timeline with steps for achieving your goals. Throughout the process, remind yourself why you’re adding each step in the roadmap. 

Daymond dives into this business tip a bit further.

“Start writing the roadmap and setting goals on how you’re going to accomplish the things you want to do, and don’t write, ‘Well, I want to do $100,000 this month.’ Well, how are you going to do $100,000? Are you going to take a digital course or hire virtual assistants because now the talent pool is opened up globally? Are you going to look at some of the people that are out of work right now who have a high skill set or people who’ve gained back four hours of round-trip traveling? And say, ‘Yeah, I’m still doing this job, but I’m willing to pitch in on this one because maybe we can accomplish something greater.’ So, start looking at the assets and the things that you can tap into to put that goal and roadmap in place.”

💡 Pro-tip: 

Are you looking for tips on how to build your roadmap for customer success? Check out how to build a strategy for your small business in 6 easy steps.

5. Communicate with your customers

Communication is a two-way street, especially when it comes to customers. With remote work on the rise, make sure to engage your customers across every digital platform, whether it’s through video conferencing, phone, messaging, a digital engagement platform, or social media. 

Currently, there are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide. Think of how many customers are talking about your business online right now—don’t leave them hanging and actively reach out. 

Make it your priority to pick up the phone and call your customers. Ask for honest feedback and view complaints as new opportunities to improve your business. Daymond’s business tip on communication applies to every type of business out there, whether you’re a law firm, accounting practice, real estate agency, or construction business to name a few.

“Communication is definitely two ways. Technology is great, but guess what? Everybody can reach out now. So, you got to beat people to the punch, and you’ve got to really show that you care. And that only doesn’t go for just your big customers. Listen, when you’re dealing with social media, you get a bunch of likes, you better like them back. You better follow them back. How would you like to say, ‘Love what you’re doing here!’ And nobody says thank you. You’re going to do that once or twice. After that, you’re going to say, ‘You know what? I love what that person is doing [over there].’ It’s something that you have to give as much as you get… Customer complaints are extremely valuable. They’re extremely important, and it’s an investment in your company.”

💡 Pro-tip: 

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6. Connect with your employees

Daymond John tough questions quote

Communicating with your customers is key, and this also applies to your employees. After all, the key to happy customers is happy employees. People are managing a range of emotions from last year due to the pandemic, and those feelings aren’t going to disappear in 2021. 

Take the time to check on your employees to ensure that they have the resources they need to stay productive and engaged. For example, you might be unaware that your team is dealing with unreliable tools that make it difficult for them to work from anywhere. This can be a sign that it might be time to update your tool stack. Or perhaps an employee is dealing with a personal situation that requires a few extra days off. Whatever the case, connect with your employees more moving forward and have honest conversations. 

Daymond shares the value of reaching out to your team this year.

“Ask the tough questions with your employees. What’s your why? Where are things changing for you? How can I help? When it comes from a good place, people see it. It’s all about reaching out to people, showing them that you care, asking what’s going on, and just being a giving person and a little vulnerable during this time.”

Apply Daymond’s business tips today

Daymond John vulnerable quote

As you take Daymond’s business tips with you, remember to not bury your head in the sand. What exactly does this mean? This means to remain alert, aware, and open minded as you enter the coming months and years. 

Don’t make excuses and push things back—this is a crucial time to be making moves. After sharing his valuable business tips, Daymond closed by saying the following.

“So, these are a couple of things that I think need to be done. And it’s so much harder to do it than me saying it. I’m doing that every day myself. I’m re-evaluating companies and people, and the way I’m delivering things, and the roadmap and the goals. 2021, I’m not going to say that’s going to be any easier than 2020. 2021 may be just as bad or worse, and if it’s better, than great. But, act like there’s an emergency going on.”