Set Yourself Up for Success in 2021 with These Changes

success in 2021

By Anton Oosthuizen. As 2020 begins to grind to a halt, many business owners and decision-makers are gearing up for what lies ahead to prepare for success in 2021. As a business owner and strategist with over 20 years in the software industry, I have had the opportunity to study other successful business owners in many sectors.

Here is what I have observed these CEOs do, and what I do in my own business, to ensure 2021’s success is approached with confidence.

1. Begin with the end

For 2021

In his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Stephen Covey highlights how people who start with the end in mind are more likely to achieve their goals. Simply put, to plan for a successful 2021 we need to use our imagination to picture what we’d like to have achieved by the end of 2021 before there is any evidence of it. The mental creation precedes its physical manifestation. Maybe you’re ready to accelerate your company’s growth, to widen your customer base or to develop a second location. This mental picture serves as a tactical target to help you move from where you are now to where you want to be in the next 12 months. Whether this is a personal mission statement or an organisation-wide goal, begin the year by envisioning where you’d like to be at the end of it.

For next week

Similarly, successful CEOs are not only deliberate about planning the year ahead, they schedule what their week looks like before it begins, typically taking a quick moment on a Sunday to do so. Otherwise, urgent disruptions in the week take precedence over important, strategic things, and they become reactionary managers instead of purposeful leaders. To do so requires the skill of saying ‘no’. 

CEO Warren Buffett says he believes “really successful people say no to almost everything.” Often saying ‘yes’ to one thing means you’re saying ‘no’ to another. So get clear on the right things to do for your business, and say ‘no’ to any request or task that does not support your business goals.

2. Create a year plan

Set out a 12-month plan that is realistic and achievable, with quarterly checkpoints, but is sure to build in flexibility. Markets change, trends change, so be comfortable with rapid decision-making and learn to embrace change. Be aware of the top trends in your industry and tweak your tactics as needed throughout the year. As with all year plans, allocate tasks and deadlines to key stakeholders with clearly defined goals and accountability structures. 

1. 2020 vision.

Review the previous year’s growth and challenges to determine missed opportunities and room for improvement. In spite of a worldwide lockdown and pandemic, there are likely to be some positives and learnings that have come from it.

2. SWOT analysis.

Ask the members of your team what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were in each of the core functions of the business, being Sales, Marketing, Operations, HR, Finance. If you have an integrated ERP system, you can use that data to inform your priorities and initiatives for the year.

3. Sales and marketing.

Articulate the top three ways you will build visibility and credibility for your company, and answer these questions:

– How do you use marketing to generate leads? 

– How do you turn marketing leads into sales

– How do you track quote rejections

– Do you know why your customers chose you

– How do you get more customers like that?

4. People and resources.

Now is the time to determine whether you have the right talent and the right organisational structure to support your business strategy. You may need to hire or outsource new talent. How will you engage your team and create loyalty? 

5. Pricing and service model.

It may be time to raise your prices or change your profit model. Think strategically about ways to over-deliver on your brand promise, lower expenses, and improve service delivery. 

3. Communicate your passion

The CEOs I know who understand their purpose are the most centred and driven. Their purpose is what gets them out of bed in the morning. Additionally, they share their vision with the team which unites them and empowers them. They make decisions that are best for the organisation and the client, not what is self-serving or selfish.

Having a clear goal and a united passion will help keep your business on the right track.

4. Transform your back office and processes 

Many business owners feel an urgency to digitise and automate because of the clear benefits it brings with it – according to Gartner, 56% of CEOs said digital improvements have led to revenue growth – but a frustration around where to start.

56% of CEOs say digital improvements have led to revenue growth


Replace spreadsheets with integrated, cloud-based business systems.

For most, your digitisation strategy can begin by simply moving away from clunky spreadsheets and patchwork applications in your back office. Replacing these with a modern, cloud-based ERP system is more robust than a simple spreadsheet, and can save you time, improve productivity and reduce human error significantly.

business operating system (BOS), or ERP system integrates every part of your business, automates much of your admin, and stores all your business data in one central location.

– No more lengthy reports.

– No more double data capturing.

– No more bloated admin teams.

– Saving you days of work every week.

Plus it is available anytime, from anywhere, which easily supports your remote workforce, and can scale with ease. When looking for the right ERP system, consider your local options for better prices and immediate support.

Update legacy processes.

Introducing a cloud-based ERP solution is also the best time to rethink some of your business processes. This could be everything from how you manage your inventory to how you onboard your customers. Your ERP vendor and implementation partner will be able to guide you on industry-specific business processes that will ensure you get the most out of your new ERP system and processes. 

5. Practice self-care

As a final thought on how to set yourself up for success in 2021, being strategic about taking care of yourself should be your priority. It means you will have something to give your team, your customers, your family. It can be as simple as making healthier eating choices, to changing your sleeping habits, as studies show that sleep and productivity go hand in hand. This is not a selfish act, rather it is what effective leaders do in order to serve those around them and maintain a profitable business.

With an ever-changing marketplace, a challenging economy, and the growing expectations of highly informed customers, it is best to prepare for the year ahead right now. Here’s to a prosperous, successful 2021. 

Want success in 2021? Need advice on how to revamp your back office systems?

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