How to survive and prosper in 2021

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that “business as usual” can be flipped on its head at any time. In fact, “unusual” seems to be the new usual.

So how do you prepare for uncertainty, reach your goals and even prosper in these “uncertain” times. This article aims to assist you with some of those steps and how Holmans is here to help guide you through 2021.

Importantly, Holmans made some key observations during the turbulent 2020:

  • Those that plan each year did better than those that didn’t
  • Those that had cashflow buffers/reserves for working capital (or personal reserves) did better than those that had none
  • Those that review their monthly figures and truly understand their business (business drivers and key performance measures), tended to do better than those that didn’t. Importantly, they could also pivot quickly and take decisive action.
  • Those that sort advice and/or had other owners to liaise with tended to recover quicker and were less anxious as the problem solving and stress was shared.

The above doubles as a pretty good shortlist for a survival guide to 2021… remember, if you change nothing, nothing will change.

So let’s work through how to set a plan and make the necessary changes to survive and prosper in the 2021.


Now more than ever, we should reassess what we want to achieve from business in the next 12 months. Is it:

  • Launch into a new business
  • Make more profit, have more free time, or both*
  • Better cashflow
  • Different clients
  • Expansion or targeting a niche
  • Simplification of your business
  • Making the business more resilient; or
  • Preparation for sale

*A NAB Business Survey in 2018 indicated that only 24% of small-medium business owners got into business for financial rewards… instead most do it for flexibility, being the boss or a sense of achievement. Business Planning is about reaching your goal, even where that doesn’t mean more profit.

So spend some time having a think about what you really want to achieve and then determine what that actually “means” to you. After all, you can’t hit a target that you can’t see and having a real purpose for achieving it will keep you on track.

For example, don’t think about the goal in terms of “I want to make more money”.… that is a nothing statement. Instead, think about it like “if I can make an extra 2% Gross Profit, that means an extra $x per year, which means I can… go on my dream holiday, buy my dream house, retire early, get the kids into a private school, hire a manager to free up my time” and so-on. It is that last part that makes it real and meaningful to you and will give you purpose.

Pin that last bit to your fridge to help you stay motivated.


Be really clear on what that goal is, ensure all the team are on board, and then put in place little steps to get there. Think about it like a ladder… the end of the ladder is the goal/achievement, the rungs are the steps you must take to get there.

Planning sounds boring… but it doesn’t have to be tedious or some wordy documents no one looks at. It should be the opposite … it should be short, to the point and meaningful to you…. like a list of “Critical Success Factors” and actions to achieve each month to get you to the goal.

Accountants are experts at helping our clients plan and manage that process – so don’t be afraid to seek assistance.

A good way to get started is to consider the following:

  • Where am I now?
  • Where do I want to be in the next 12 months (works just a well for longer term plans)?
  • What does that goal mean… in terms of staff, premises, output, working capital so-on. Essentially, what must I do (or have, or do differently) to get there. Ignore cost/hurdles at this stage. Just prepare the list… the hurdles (& solutions) are considered later.
  • What one thing if I implement now would have the biggest impact … and/or will help give me momentum?
  • How can I remove the hurdles listed above? How can I work smarter? Is the goal important enough for me to make those things happen?

Remember, most problems in business have been solved before. Think outside the box and/or consider what other businesses have done. Seek advice from experts.

Action and Motivation

Time to implement those steps on the ladder… start with the ones that provide good “bang for buck”, those that must be completed before the next “rung on the ladder” and those that are easy.

Communicate clearly with your team on the “why” you are making the change. You need to bring your team (family and staff) with you on this journey. Change is hard, but the consequences of doing nothing could be dire.

Looking for motivation:

  • Consider your result last year without the Cashflow Boost or JobKeeper – Is that satisfactory? Or the year before?
  • Is your business allowing you to achieve your personal goals?
  • Did you get into business to work longer/harder and have more stress?
  • Calculate your hourly rate – Total profit/wage, divided by total hours (including management/working “on” the business hours)?


Now the hard part… how do you make sure you do what you are say you were going to do? How do you remind yourself of the goal and why it is important? How do you stop being distracted by other pressures? How do you resolve issues as they pop up?

You could start by having a monthly meeting with key decisions makers… whether that is your spouse, key team members in business so-on. Diarise it and make sure you assess how you are going each month (minimum). Spend dedicated time and measure your progress. Make sure those “steps” to the top of the ladder are included in your monthly to-do list. What gets measured, gets done as the saying goes.

Accountants can also assist you with the above…. They are like the Personal Trainer for your business. Holmans complete business advisory/mentoring services for a number of clients, many just so we can help keep them accountable and to act as a sounding board.

Work on your personal goals at the same time

While you are working on business goals, it helps to set some personal ones too. COVID has certainly made people reassess family time and personal goals. Tying the personal goals into the business goals often make the goals more meaningful.

For example, improving the business profitability, might allow for more staff/assistance, which then in turn may result in more family time/holidays. Business and personal goals are often linked.

The value of advice and experts

Holmans have assisted many of our clients get organised, set goals and achieve them. We can help you too. A problem shared, is a problem halved.

We have solved, or have seen solved, many of the problems you may be encountering. We can also direct you to those that can assist you where it is outside of our expertise.

As a business owner, you are not suddenly blessed with all the knowledge and skills required to run a successful business. Instead, we all tend to be very good at what we do (the product or service), not necessarily all the business administration, human resources, IT, tax, legal and strategic/planning requirements of a business. Accountants are no different. We rely on experts where we need to, and you should to. Using experts can short cut your journey to success.


Would you be interested in a Podcast/Webinar series on setting goals, how to improve your business or reviewing and understanding your Financial Statements? Let us know.

Need assistance and want to know more?
Contact Holmans today;

Holmans Noosa: (07) 5430 7600 or email
Holmans Maroochydore: (07) 5451 6888 or email