“Small businesses anticipate the worst of the pandemic is still ahead and most say they need further government assistance to weather the storm” according to the latest MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index. They also see a somewhat improving national economy — but one still far from pre-pandemic levels.

The MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index is part of a collaboration by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber “to bring forth the voice of America’s small business owners and highlight the important role they play in the nation’s economy. The initiative produces the quarterly Index, which is a survey of 1,000 small businesses to check the pulse of the small business sector, see where small business owners are confident, and where they are experiencing challenges.”

The current Small Business Index score is 52.9 The Index score was 71.7 in Q1 of 2020, based on data collected before the full economic impact of the coronavirus became apparent.

The Business Index also tells us that “amid a new surge in cases across the nation which began while this survey was in field (Oct. 30-Nov. 10), most (62%) small businesses fear that the worst is still to come with COVID-19’s economic impact (31% disagree).”

With the vaccine now on its way to healthcare workers, and trickling down to the general public, I am very interested in to see the outlook that small businesses will have at the end of Q1 or Q2 in 2021. Maybe there is optimism on the horizon.

In the meantime, it is a new year, so what can businesses do to make sure 2021 offers them a profit? I’ve been writing these Chamber Chat articles for over five years now, and at the beginning of January, I try to remind business owners that now is a great time to reflect on the successes of the past year, and create goals for this upcoming year — if you haven’t already done so.

You did a business plan when you started your company. It’s equally as important to reassess that plan. I assume you have achieved some of your initial goals… you are still in business, aren’t you? During a pandemic no less. So keep raising the bar. Either increase your goals, or change them all together, based on the current business climate. The pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench in just about everyone’s goals. But you still need a plan to get to the goals you set. I heard once that a goal without a plan is just a wish.

Once you’ve determined your goals, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. It will also help you feel successful along the way as you’re able to check off the “completed” tasks.

Make the most of what may be “down time” during the pandemic. As a part of your wholistic business plan, put together a marketing plan. If you have employees … even if it’s only one or two, make them part of the planning process. Don’t try to just brainstorm in your own mind. Employees often have great ideas, make the most of them!

I wish you all the best of luck in developing your 2021 goals, and creating a list of how you will achieve them. Happy Hew Year!