Adopting a flexible approach for 2021

Steve Reid

Do you remember how some people began 2020? It was going to be the year of 20 plenty or the year when we had 20/20 vision. What a course correction we have had!

“Even the best laid plans of mice and men,” wrote Robert Burns in 1785.

John Steinbeck used that line for his famous novel, Of Mice and Men, in 1937.

Yet the principle still holds true as we go into 2021 that no matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.

It is apparent that Covid-19 will still be with us well into the new year.

What can small businesses do to plan for 2021 and beyond?

With the levels of uncertainty at an all-time high, one word that should be part of our vocabulary is flexibility.

Flexibility means bending easily without breaking; the ability to be easily modified and willingness to change or compromise.

In considering the new year, with all its uncertainty, let’s intentionally build flexibility into our scenario planning.

Consider therefore how you may build a plan that harnesses robust resilience, delivers stronger engagement and includes innovative thinking.

● Resilience

The term resilience is used colloquially to refer to the ability to take a knock, but its broader business meaning is having the capacity to withstand a knock, quickly learn, and being agile enough to recover quickly.

In reflecting back on 2020, what lessons can you draw from your own experience of managing the crisis?

What can you do differently as you enter 2021?

What “entrepreneurial muscle” do you need to flex, stretch and build?

● Engagement

Employee engagement is defined as the degree to which employees are motivated by, passionate about and invested in the work they do.

Engagement also indicates the individual’s commitment to the company and their emotional connection to the people they work with.

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs – meaning that they are emotionally invested in committing their time, talent and energy in adding value to their team and advancing the organisation’s initiatives.

In South Africa, research showed that over 66% of respondents believed that less than 70% of their employees were engaged at work.

What three things can you implement that will increase the level of employee engagement in 2021?

● Innovative thinking

One of the principles we repeat often to our cohorts of entrepreneurs is that of the need to differentiate your business from your competitors.

It is imperative to make your business stand out, be different and be remarkable.

Seth Godin’s Purple Cow is an inspiring self-help book for entrepreneurial marketers who find themselves stewarding big brands where innovation is often no more than me-too copycat cloning.

Godin offers practical tips to “remarkabalize” your brand through innovation.

What innovation will you introduce within your business in 2021?

How will this innovation make it remarkable?

Here’s to a flexible, stronger 2021.

Steve Reid is the manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at False Bay College. For more information, email