Seven Tips to Get 2021 Off to a Great Start

Don’t be fooled by their simplicity. These tips work. And they work very quickly.

  1. Review 2020 Performance. No one’s 2020 went according to plan. But you still have to work from it. Your ability to get to now in one piece deserves some evaluation to make 2021 stronger.
  2. Don’t try and plan your year out now. There are too many variables yet to try and make value calls for 11 months from now. For now, use broad strokes for planning. The business landscape is going look different 7 months from now.
  3. Review who your ideal customer profile is. Understanding your best customers helps you refine your market. But you need to know who are your current customers? What challenges do they face (that relate to your product or service)? What is something they all have in common?
  4. What’s your competition look like now? You need to know who grew out of last year, who pivoted and who shut down. Maybe it’s time to do a SWOT analysis? You can review:
    • How they talk about products or services?
    • How are their products the same as yours? How are they different?
    • Are they more or less expensive than you?
    • How can you win against them?
    • What are your competitive advantages?
  5. Review your finances…again. Your revenue plan, combined with your cost plan, gives you insight into how profitable your year could be. start with your revenue goal and then figure out how you will get there based on what you have to sell. Then, identify what you have available to sell, and then how much you can earn from that. Then you figure out how to bridge the gap.
  6. Prioritize opportunities. Start by doing a brain dump—getting all those ideas out of your head and onto paper. If you’ve been collecting up ideas over the course of the year, get those out too. Then use these questions, inspired by Charlie Gilkey’s self-help book Start Finishing, to evaluate your opportunities and goals.
    • Which of these items wouldn’t actually hurt at all if you cut them?
    • Which of these items would you be relieved to no longer be planning to do? (Remember, some of them may still be non-negotiable, like paying quarterly taxes!)
    • Which of these goals are “shoulds,” or relate to other people’s priorities, rather than your own?
    • Which of the items are good ideas, but don’t directly relate to something that frustrates, annoys, angers, inspires, nourishes or calls to you?
    • What’s the most important thing you want to celebrate this time next year?
    • Which causes the most gut-wrenching anguish when you consider cutting it?
    • Which are you most likely to wake up two hours earlier or stay up two hours late or steal time elsewhere to create two hours to do?
    • Which will matter the most in five years?
  7. After you’ve identified your top priority—the first big thing you want to accomplish in 2021, it’s a great time to break down that goal into action steps.

Remember, each step of your action plan needs to be concrete, measurable and attainable. If you have a team, you’ll also need to assign the person responsible for getting it done.

By following these seven steps, you’re ready to kick off the year with a bang. You’ve done the important work of digging into the lessons learned from 2020 and come up with a business plan for 2021. That means you’ve set yourself up for success, no matter what 2021 brings.

There’s a lot of planning and implementation, lots of “big think” stuff to work through.

P.S. Bonus tip, and this is actually a big one…

To help you get started, use the brick and block planning style. Haven’t heard of this one?

Bricks and blocks help you get more done, even on your busiest days. Bricks and blocks are categories of tasks based on how long they take:

  • Bricks are smaller tasks and activities—things that take 15-20 minutes to complete. This could be delegating part of a project, testing a workflow or creating the first draft of a blog post.
  • Blocks are bigger tasks that take longer and more concentration—up to two hours. These are where a lot of magic happens with your projects—and often when you get into a flow. Examples of blocks are writing sales pages or email sequences, recording lessons for a new course or digging into programming.

If your action is bigger than a brick or a block, then break it down further. Smaller steps make it easier to get started and easier to keep going.

In fact, whenever you finish a task, your brain releases a load of dopamine—the neurotransmitter which supports feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction and happiness.

In most project management systems, you can apply your own labels—often through some sort of a tag or color. Pick colors that stand out and make it easy for you to see where you can spend time to advance your goals.

When you sit down to work, pick tasks based on how long you have and what your energy is like. Sometimes even if you’ve got two hours to work, you may choose to knock out five or six bricks instead of a block.

Bricks and blocks aren’t just great tools for your big projects. You can also use it for anything that you need to do in your business—from blog posts to scheduling social media posts.

Darren Slaughter is the founder and president of, a digital agency focusing on website design, social media management, and content creation for home improvement contractors.