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Small Business: COVID means setting short-term goals and staying nimble, experts say

Scott Maskin, CEO of Ronkonkoma-based SUNation Solar Systems,

Scott Maskin, CEO of Ronkonkoma-based SUNation Solar Systems, says he will be monitoring and adjusting company goals much more frequently due to COVID.  Credit: NydiaRose Photography

It’s the start of the New Year and with that comes a new set of goals and strategies for most companies.

But this year, goal setting is a much heftier task with COVID-19 still surging and its impact on 2021 still uncertain.

Given that, companies should look at their goals in shorter intervals and be prepared to pivot if market conditions change, say experts.

"Businesses need to take a look at what’s happening presently and be constantly aware of the changes occurring," says Thomas W. Shinick, president of Corporate Development Partners in Merrick, a business advisory firm.

He’s been telling his clients to do at a minimum a monthly evaluation of goals, but with the way the landscape keeps changing he’s even suggesting they do that weekly.

And instead of developing a broad set of far-reaching year-long goals, business owners should do a detailed outlook for "no more than six months," says Jeffrey Bass, managing member of Executive Strategies Group, LLC in Plainview, a business operations and financial advisory firm.

Scott Maskin, CEO of Ronkonkoma-based SUNation Solar Systems, has opted to create his 2021 goals as usual, but will be monitoring and adjusting them much more frequently.

"We used to adjust our goals quarterly and now we do it weekly," he says.

Among SUNation’s goals: complete 300 to 500 home installations of Tesla powerwalls, which store energy generated by solar power, a goal three times greater than last year’s, and install 500 residential charging stations for electric vehicles.

Maskin said that in prior years they may have looked at goals across the board, but due to COVID they’re doing more strategic planning and goal-setting specific to core business units since different units were affected differently by COVID.

For instance, electric vehicle charging stations have gotten a boost with a $500 rebate being offered by PSEG, so those are one of the units they’ll focus on growing, says Maskin.

While the future remains full of unknowns, business owners should look at this as an opportunity to find new niches or ways to serve customers better, says Shinick.

For example, many companies realized due to COVID that they could serve their customers in new ways online, he says.

"This environment is forcing us to get creative," says Robert Paulson, president of Paulson Strategy Group, an international executive coaching firm with offices in Riverhead.

He said the environment is always changing, be it a pandemic, stock market crash, or recession. It’s how a business reacts to these disruptions that is key.

It requires a shift in mindset and "allowing ourselves to go back to our roots and be creative," Paulson says.

As part of the process, companies should take stock of where they are now and ask themselves, "what is it we want to achieve in this environment" and what’s the process to get there, he says.

While the vaccine should help, businesses should consider the possibility of another lockdown and what contingencies should be in place in terms of inventory, supply chain, etc., says Bass.

"They should conservatively plan for the next six months" knowing that COVID’s impact will still be present, he says.

Richard Liebert, president of Truehold Promotions, a Bohemia-based firm specializing in custom-branded merchandise, says COVID has forced him to take baby steps and look at his goals monthly.

For 2021, he plans to do a major outreach to existing customers to hone in on present and future needs. He’s also looking to grow the firm’s visibility and has hired a search engine optimization company to boost its online presence. In addition, he’ll focus on building the firm’s new branded uniform division, launched this year.

"The current economic picture dictates a more proactive business mindset for 2021," says Liebert, adding he’s ready to react to market changes as they occur.

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Fast Fact:


Percentage of small businesses worried about the lingering economic impacts from COVID-19 going into 2021

Source: Bluehost

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