December 3, 2020

What a difference a year makes! In Q4 2019, area businesses were making bullish plans for growth. The pandemic and economic recession obliterated those rosy forecasts and for many replaced them with a survival mode where maintaining cash, staff and open doors were paramount. It caused every business to pause and adjust as needed.

Fast forward to today and we have reasons to be guardedly optimistic about the future. With the promise of vaccines, strong underlying fundamentals and cheap access to financing, a company can not only survive in 2021, but can also use market conditions to gain a leadership position in its industry.

Plan now for 2021

Making 2021 a profitable year requires smart planning with strategies that include a clear vision of long-term goals, flexible forecasting and bright ideas for financing.

A strategic approach to 2021 will identify where to focus your time and resources, based on your best opportunities to thrive: Can you expand your product line or add new services? Where can you improve your geographic footprint? Of these opportunities, which are most likely to result in revenue growth, and which deliver improved profit?

Plan with reality in mind

2021 plans must be based on a realistic assessment of your current condition. Since 2020 was such a disruptive year for many companies, now is the time to step back and take an honest look at your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The SWOT analysis is a time-proven strategy that allows you to identify areas within your company that can adjusted to meet and achieve your goals.

Listen to your stakeholders

In developing a 2021 strategy, include input from department heads and managers, including those who are on the front lines, and have contact with your customers. By enlarging your planning group, you will not only gain fresh perspectives, but you will also have a team more invested in executing the plan throughout the year.

Have a backup plan

Even with modest revenue projections, the past year has taught us the wisdom of having a backup plan that addresses possible negative factors, including:

  • Continued pandemic economic pain, including potential new surges
  • Reduction in demand
  • Reduction in margins due to additional costs related to remote workers, fuel increases, tariffs and other factors

Make sure that your backup plan includes sufficient cash reserves to ride out temporary drops in demand or to quickly pivot and take advantage of opportunities in the market. Having a backup plan allows your business to maintain stability until economic conditions improve.

Monitor your progress

A great strategy only works if you keep to the plan. Break your plan down into goals for each department and with realistic milestones that forecast weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals. Create a regular monitoring system to ensure your plan stays on track.

Smart Money is Key

One of the bright spots for 2021 planning is the availability of low-cost financing. The U.S. Federal Reserve benchmark for funds is at historic lows and banks like ESSA Bank & Trust are positioned to provide low-cost financing for a variety of loans:

  • Small business loans for construction, improvement and expansion
  • Commercial real estate mortgages
  • Term loans for capital purchases
  • Commercial lines of credit and letters of credit
  • Access to government financing and credit

For operations, ESSA provides optimized cash management tools:

  • Merchant processing
  • Wire transfers
  • E-deposit
  • ACH Origination
  • Positive Pay: Automated fraud detection
  • Checking Accounts with 24/7 Digital Access

Not just a loan – bright ideas

ESSA is more than money. We are a business partner, providing field-tested, knowledgeable pros who understand business operations and how financing can help a company reach its goals. ESSA's "Brighter Lending Ideas" help area businesses grow and innovate. Talk to us about financing customized to your company that offers the flexibility to address uncertainty in the market.

Start with a smart call!

Include ESSA in your 2021 planning – our Commercial Banking Team is ready! Get in touch today and visit our Commercial Banking Team online.

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