This year has been difficult for everyone, but it’s been especially hard on small businesses. As you prepare to close out the books on your small business for the year, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success in 2021. Having the right plans and measures in place now will help you come out stronger on the other side in 2021.

1. Maintain A Safe Environment

During the early part of the pandemic, many businesses were forced to either limit their services or close their doors entirely. Since then, restrictions have varied widely by state and sometimes even by city, making it difficult for business owners to keep up. As you’re planning for 2021, it’s best to plan for the worst and make sure you’re following CDC guidelines for operating your business. By maintaining a safe work environment for employees and customers, you can help ensure your ability to continue operating. If you haven’t already, review leave policies and have clear emergency communication plans set in place to keep employees and customers safe and informed.

2. Prepare for more restrictions

Health officials have already warned the public of a continued surge of the coronavirus, with spikes in cases accelerating as we lead into the winter months and holiday season. Your best bet in facing uncertainty is to plan for potential disruptions.

In order to prepare, you should review your finances from 2020 to measure your profits from the year. Should a second wave of closures or restrictions affect your business, it’s important to have an understanding of how long you could survive another shutdown. Having an established contingency plan can prepare you for the worst case scenarios. Take the learnings from the initial outbreak, such as how long your business was disrupted and what limitations you underwent. If your business relies on external dependencies—whether that be distributors, suppliers or subcontractors—make sure you will still be able to source these materials and services. For instance, bakeries should ensure they have the ingredients and supplies they need in case their vendors are unable to deliver them in a timely manner.

Another item you should review is your expenses. Should another lockdown occur, you need to be flexible without relying on a round of stimulus that may not come. Start by identifying any expenses that can be deferred temporarily. For example, if your business was forced to reduce staffing, you might consider reaching out to your small business insurance provider. Workers compensation has an almost linear relationship to payroll, so you could reduce your premiums significantly if your payroll has changed.

3. Operate with Optimism

Even though the future is uncertain, don’t lose faith. A recent study by Bluehost found that 72% of SMBs say they are confident about the business outlook in 2021. Through the pandemic, small businesses have demonstrated resilience and determination to keep serving their customers, creating jobs and engaging with their communities.

Businesses and entrepreneurs should be seeking out ways they can further their business to prepare for a rebound in 2021. Ask yourself questions like: are there any new opportunities to take advantage of, is there room to expand to new regions, or new services? Creating a plan now can keep you on track for growth and set you up for success once we get back to some semblance of normal in 2021.

As we gear up for 2021, the main takeaway is to stay positive (as much as possible) while dealing with the reality of today. The new year is set to bring a vaccine (hopefully), potentially additional stimulus, and ideally the return to normalcy. Preparing now for the coming year will better position your small business to withstand any looming pitfalls and take advantage of oncoming lifts.

Bryan O’Connell is the CEO of Huckleberry, a platform with a mission to rebuild business insurance from the ground up by providing small business owners with the capability to manage all of their insurance needs through its transparent, easy-to-use interface.

2021 stock photo by oatawa/Shutterstock