Preparing for 2021: How can we plan when there is no plan?

It’s already October. To many of us, myself included, it feels like this year has passed us by in a flash, but yet we also can’t wait to see the end of it.

It’s usually around this time of year that I begin planning for the year ahead; however, right now, it’s hard to prepare for next week. There’s still a lot of uncertainty in the air, and although I couldn’t be more excited about the thought of planning for this new business year, it raises more questions than usual. How do you plan when there is no plan? Will we be back in the office or working remotely? Will business be back to normal, or will we still be focusing on getting by?

As leaders, I’ve found a few things that we can control and plan for now to help us feel more prepared in times of uncertainty and build excitement for the year ahead.

Here are a few of them:


As business leaders, we all know why budgets are essential. However, going into a new year, it’s even more vital that you have at least a rough idea of what you’re spending and where to cut back to make up for a turbulent 2020. Budgets will change along with your priorities; that’s inevitable. However, creating a plan for your budget in the months to come will help give you an idea of what you’re spending, clarify any business goals throughout your business and help to keep you on track as the new year begins. Of course, any budgets you set for yourself at this time are not set in stone. A year is a long time, and who knows what you may need to invest in a few months down the line for your business to succeed in this new normal. However, as with any good business plan, you need to know your financial situation and what you have to work with.


One of the most critical aspects of your business model moving into 2021 is flexibility. If your organization cannot adjust and adapt to challenges that come your way, it will be much harder for you to navigate all this uncertainty surrounding us. Ironically, the one thing you should plan for is how to have a flexible plan. It may include mapping talent not restricted to your existing brick and mortar offices. It may be tied to shift options, as our healthcare partners mastered years ago. If critical team members may have to be online during the day teaching preschool or supporting elderly parents, Can you work around time zones to allow them to remain relevant and engaged?

You need to evaluate the learning needs of your team and consider training your employees to wear many hats. Those flexible, multi-skilled individuals can then shift and adjust with the needs of the business. While none of us can predict what’s around the corner, we can give ourselves and our company a fighting chance of success with a new focus on agility. Take a look at startup business models; you may be able to mirror aspects of their working day and culture that allow them to adapt to new challenges so effortlessly.


Another aspect of business planning is looking at your recruitment needs. Identify potential future roles, and conduct talent assessments to identify the internal talent who can be developed to fit your business needs in 2021. Don’t be afraid to look at those employees who may not fit the future or may consider leaving. Aggressive recruiting right may not be your top priority, but assuming no one will leave is putting your success at risk. Especially if you must start from scratch to connect with top talent. Believe it or not, it is a very competitive market for our clients’ recruiting for tech, sales, and customer success talent globally. It is critical to begin to pipeline talent for future hires. If you do, you’ll have a pick of engaged, enthusiastic, and talented people who have expressed interest in working for you when you are ready to hire. These conversations may not lead to hires, but insight into what it would take to bring in the level of employee you need for the future. What could be better than that? 


2021 is going to be the year of engagement; after being apart for so long, experts predict it’s going to be about connecting with people on a personal level. From creative marketing and storytelling that can communicate your employer brand to improving employee engagement and company culture, plan for ways to engage both your existing team and future hires. Engage your employees by asking for their feedback on what can be improved within your organization; it shows you’re taking their interests seriously. Also, I find engagement improves if employees are kept in the loop and are involved in making key decisions. Plan to create a people-focused company culture, and employee engagement will follow, helping you attract top talent later in the year and strengthen your employer brand.


Another way to plan for 2021 is to consider your overall business positioning. Are you targeting the right market? How do you match up to the competition? Is there a gap in the market or services that you could tap into? This is something that I’ve been working on with the team at Talent Works recently, working out where we should be positioning ourselves and crafting the right strategy to do this and become experts in Talent attraction strategies for 2021.

Take the time to do some market research, find gaps in the market, and opportunities for your business to shine. I can almost guarantee that most companies in your industry are in a similar situation to you right now, which means they’ll all be planning to up their game. To prepare effectively for the future, you need to find what makes you unique in your sector and adjust your positioning. Consider what you do best and showcase yourself as the experts; you can then use content marketing, social media, and sales pitches to cement this idea and reach more relevant audiences as you advance.

You have to believe to succeed, and although it has been a challenging 6-months, I am looking forward to the new way of work and the privilege of supporting the many companies who are not just riding this storm but reaching their goals. 

We are ready for you 2021!