Jumping into the new year, we've come up with some key questions businesses should be asking themselves, and where they see opportunities in the market. Use this document as a road map to guide your 2021 thinking. We’d love to hear what you think of our ideas — and where you see business headed in 2021.

Is it time to rethink the need to scale?

Everyone knows the recipe to business.  Once you find product/market fit,  you figure out how to scale. When you ask, “How much should we scale?” there only ever seems to be one answer: bigger.

This is such an ingrained part of the startup playbook these days that it’s a little shocking to pause and remember that the concept of scaling a business is actually a relatively new one.

Holy hockey stick!! (Source: Google NGram)

A search through the world’s literature on Google Ngram shows that the term appeared at the dawn of the internet era, and really took off in the mid-2000s when companies like Facebook and Instagram were grabbing huge valuations despite one very important fact: They had no revenue.

It was hard to monetize on the early web, and the ability to scale helped those early players attract funding and hang on. They needed to be huge. But scaling is not a cure-all. Indeed, it will repeatedly break everything inside your company. So it’s worth questioning whether you need it in the first place, and if so, why. The internet is full of millionaires you’ve never heard of who are printing money in quiet niches you never thought of. These are people who understand that there’s a difference between growing a business and scaling it.

Should you have an online store?

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated double-digit eCommerce growth globally, with new consumer behaviours emerging. These shifts require some brands to alter their strategies. Brands need to achieve an efficient omnichannel media presence to influence consumers across the funnel. They go beyond upper-funnel activities and use data to activate consumers across the full funnel on social media. And they need to consider retail media’s importance in driving awareness and consideration. These new market dynamics will make it possible for small insurgent brands, to grow and capture share from the incumbents. To counter this, incumbents need to be more agile and utilise community-powered platforms like Facebook Shop and WeChat social eCommerce in conjunction with content and influencers during promotion periods. Brands also need to re-imagine direct-to-consumer with an omnichannel strategy to provide the right consumer experience.

Who are 5 of your raving fans?

You can do all the strategy you want, but if you can’t list 5 of your biggest fans by name — and ideally say a little about what’s going on in their lives — it’s time to get back in touch with your audience.

Who do your customers care about impressing, and what would help them do that?

As Kathy Sierra points out in her excellent talk, “Building the Minimum Badass User,” no one dreams of engaging with brands. Your customers dream of being impressive to the people they want to impress, and if you can help them do that, they’ll talk about you.

What is one subconscious assumption you’ve made about 2021? What’s your backup plan if it’s wrong?

Some examples: “Things will go back to ‘normal’ in 6 months” or “the shift toward [ecommerce, remote work, telemedicine, etc.] will be permanent.”

What are the 2nd-order questions that you should be asking to better understand your customers/clients/community?

Think of questions related to your audience but not directly related to your product, that you could explore, that would help you better connect with your customers?

What are the 3-5 values driving your company/decisions?

Here at 2C, we try to embody our values in our work every single day. Three of our core values include:

  • Customer Experience
  • Trustworthiness
  • Honesty

List your values, then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you match an action/decision/milestone you made in 2020 to each of them?
  • Can you match an action/decision/milestone you want to make in 2021 to each of them?

As you add or change priorities for your business in 2021, what are you saying no to?

What are you going to shelve or deprioritize to make room for what matters?

Are you prepared for (more) supply chain disruptions?

We have vaccines to tame COVID-19, but don’t assume that we won’t have further supply chain disruptions this year. Here are a couple of resources for insulating your business:

If your best employee or contributor leaves, quits, or dies (we're in a pandemic after all) — will your company still thrive?

This is something our team has been fearful of as our business has superstars and a daily deliverables. We’ve worked hard to fix this, but it has required a lot of proactive behavior.

Is your business built off a temporary need or a moat that deepens over time?

Jeff Bezos encourages entrepreneurs to focus on “what’s not going to change.” (In Amazon’s case: people always want lower prices, faster delivery, and more selection).

What is the one thing that you do tangibly better than your competitors?

For example, Costco does cost tangibly better. Apple does quality tangibly better. Amazon does speed tangibly better. What’s your secret sauce?

2C's predictions for 2021

  • Live-streams and an increase in influencer content because COVID is still wreaking havoc on society.
  • More goodwill and purpose-driven missions from brands. Out with 'the Man', in with positivity.
  • Your favourite brands will begin to use AR, VR and interactive video content (and you should too - yes, we can help).
  • Brands will put an emphasis on sustainability and inclusivity.
  • Consumers want more easy to consume content (podcast, audio notes, short newsletter, short videos. think Clubhouse).
  • Video's ability to convert will increase dramatically as UGC rises.
  • The new Instagram growth hack is Reels. PRO TIP: If you don't have a TikTok, get one. Use it as a research platform (if you don't want to use it for your business) to see what's trending (sounds, themes, etc) to blow up your brand on Instagram Reels. SUPER PRO TIP: Any time a platform releases a new feature, test on it as much as possible. Platforms favour early adopter accounts using new features and will boost organic reach on that content.
  • Brick and mortar will continue to further shift online.
  • Successful FB Ad campaigns will be tied to customer lifecycle.
  • Brands will use video content omnichannel.
  • Increasing use of video content on online shopping pages.
  • LinkedIn will be incredibly successful for those who don't spam/mass market and create genuine conversation.
  • Virtual events will increase in production value as user experience becomes more important.
  • Training videos will enable businesses to scale quicker and decrease overhead.
  • Google will favour video in search results, so strengthen your keywords.
  • Consumers continue demanding more dynamic content.