With the new year comes plenty of challenges and changes. But along with this, also comes the opportunity for a fresh start or update. Along with resolutions and year-end updates, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of other crucial business updates. However, it’s important to finish these updates as well to ensure your business starts the new year off right.
In this article, we’ll discuss the various business updates you should consider for your company at the start of each year. This includes updating your business plan, employee manual, and more. We’ll discuss each of these items in depth and what’s unique about this year. So, what are the things you should update for your business this year?
What Should Businesses Update Each Year?
There are a few main things business owners should be sure to update at the start of each year. Getting all of the items below in order won’t only help your business, it’ll ease your stress to make you the most productive version of yourself. And that benefits everyone! Before we start, let’s go over what exactly is different, as a result of the unprecedented year we just had.
What’s Unique About 2021
There are some things that happened within the past year that pose some difficulties or changes for this year. So, it’s important to address these items and make sure your company is as best prepared as possible. As we make our way through our list of business updates, we’ll discuss if and how these things may be impacted in 2021.
Business Updates You Should Make
With the start of each new year, comes a handful of new challenges. To keep your company flowing smoothly, run through your updates and progress each year. Let’s start with the core of every company – the business plan.
1. Updating Your Business Plan
The first thing you need to update is your business plan. If you don’t have a business plan already, start by reading our article on how to write a business plan. A thorough business plan is crucial for your business’ success.
Once you have your business plan set, you’ll need to review it each year. Doing a review at the end of the year alongside your business plan will ensure your business’s performance is up to snuff with what’s outlined in your plan. This can also help you address issues with your audience (customers) and how this information translates to them.
So what’s in a Business Plan?
- Executive Summary – Summarizes the essence of your business with your mission statement and strategies for achieving your goals.
- Company Description – Details about your company and tells the reader what your service is, and its benefits.
- Market Analysis – How are competitors performing in the market? What makes your business unique?
- Organization & Management – Outline the structure of your business from top to bottom.
- Service or Product Line – Detail about your product or service.
- Sales and Marketing – Your sales and marketing teams.
- Funding – What funding will you need/use?
- Financial Projections – List overhead and how it translates to your gross profit. How did your projections line up with the year?
Each of these categories needs to be reviewed and adjusted from the past/upcoming year. This brings us to how you can update these items to prepare for 2021.
Updating for 2021
One of the most important things for a company is its mission statement (here are 51 of the best company’s mission statements from Alessio Bresciani). It’s important for how you see your company and how you project your company image to others. Each year, review how you did the previous year, and how you’re going to improve or stay on track for the upcoming year.
The market analysis is another important section to review yearly. If your competitors did better than you, how? If not, how are you going to keep your lead for the next year? Ask yourself questions like this for each section of your business plan and update accordingly. Now, let’s take a look at how updating technology can make your 2021 more successful.
2. Updating Technology
Business updates include updating your technology. With everything going on in the workplace right now, it’s easy to get and feel overwhelmed. People (especially business owners) have to wear multiple hats to juggle everything. One of the best things you can do to help your employees is to utilize the available technology.
So, you should include technology along with your other regular business updates. Employee communication tools are especially important this year with many working from home. Make sure your team has everything at their disposal to not only work from home but thrive from home.
Team and Organizational Tools
There are now tools and apps that make communicating and organizing projects among a team a breeze. Below are some highly-rated technology tools to try out.
- Trello: Trello is a great organizational tool for projects and has the option to build teams and communicate with each other on your projects. Even better, there’s a free version available!
- Toggl Plan: This software has sharable timelines and checklists among teams, making communication easy. There are also multiple integration options available.
- Monday.com: Monday.com is a project planner with additional options available like a sales CRM. If you’re needing multiple solutions combined, this could be a good option for your team.
- Canva: Canva is great for creating graphic design projects among teams. With options to create teams and comment on individual documents, it reduces the need for back and forth emails on projects.
Whichever option you choose, address an employee concern. If there’s a hang-up in your process that’s frustrating employees, target your solution towards that. Now let’s get to another important employee tool – the employee handbook.
3. Employee Handbook
This brings us to our next business update – your employee handbook. If you need a refresher on what’s included in a handbook or need further details, check out our article, creating an employee handbook for 2021. Like your business plan, an employee handbook should also be reviewed annually.
If your handbook doesn’t need updating, you should at least have your HR department or an HR professional review it in case there are updated policies or language. This year, for example, there are a few things passed that do require some updating or clarifying in manuals.
What Should You Update for 2021?
- LGBTQ+ Anti-Discrimination Language: In June 2020, new legislation was passed in the senate protecting individuals belonging to the LGBTQ+ community from workplace discrimination. The update makes it illegal to fire an employee simply for being gay or transgender. Make sure the language is up-to-date and it’s clear in your handbook that any discrimination or harassment is not tolerated at your company. This will weed out (or at least discourage) the bad eggs before they have a chance to do any damage.
- Remote Work: Numerous companies had to shift to remote work last year, and the trend will likely continue into 2021. Although there’s a vaccine available for COVID -19 now, there’s a lot of speculation revolving around availability and timing. So prepare yourself just in case.
- Family Leave Policies: The FFCRA and the CARES Act were both passed in 2020. To help ease the stress on employees consider modifying your own leave policy as well to further assist employees. If employees know they have the time available if necessary, they’ll be able to stress less and focus on work. That’s a better alternative for everyone.
- Safety Policies: Like last year, safety will stay at the forefront of everyone’s mind this year. Remember to fully outline your company’s overall safety policies, and those for COVID-19 as well.
Now, let’s discuss the business updates you should make to your insurance policies and plans.
4. Insurance Policies and Plans
Insurance policy plans are an essential part of an employee’s benefits package. So, if employer-provided insurance is part of your benefits package, make sure to review and update it each year with employees.
While in-person meetings aren’t an option right now, online meetings are a perfect replacement for this as well. Your health insurance provider likely already has a socially distanced option like this setup. If not, try and set up a simple Zoom, Facetime, or Skype to relay all of the information and answer questions.
This is an important step to ensure all employees understand their health insurance package at the start of each year. Even if your plan hasn’t changed, they may need to add or remove people from their policy. Employees may have questions or need additional coverage as well.
In short, make sure employees are on the same page with questions answered. This is another stressful item that, once clarified, will help employees stay focused and at their best.
Monitor Your Progress & Flourish
As with all goals and plans, it’s important to monitor the progress of your business updates. This will help you stay on track and ensure that your updates are working according to plan. This helps you stay on task, or adjust throughout the year as necessary. Keep up this process and you’ll have your annual updates honed-in in no time. So, start updating and make 2021 work for your business!