3 Things to Know: Getting Your Business Ready for 2021

As a small business owner, 2020 probably threw a lot of things your way. Now is the perfect time to get caught up and prepare for the new year. Check out these three things to know about preparing your business for 2021.


Many small businesses experience some level of slowdown in business around the winter holidays. But every small business owner knows that there really is no downtime when it comes to maintaining your business and all the responsibilities that come with it. 

If you have a lag in time spent working with clients around the holidays, now is a great time to get caught up from all that 2020 threw your way and prepare to head into the new year. Check out these three things to know when it comes to getting your business ready for 2021.

First Thing to Know: Fresh marketing content can go a long way in 2021. 

Time spent online skyrocketed in 2020 and is expected to continue into 2021. Now is a great time to freshen up your marketing materials—especially your website.
Get your business noticed online and at the top of the Google results by effectively writing your website copy for search engine optimization—find out how to improve your SEO with these nine tips

Also, what does your website say about you? Now is a good time to review (or create) your website strategy. Ensure your site is adequately communicating the messages you want to get across to current and prospective clients and customers, and that it’s making the right first impression.

Second thing to know: It’s a great time to review and update your policies and procedures. 
It’s something you’re always meaning to do, but checking up on your company policies and documents such as your employee handbook, contracts and agreements, and other important documents always seems to fall to the bottom of the list. Use this time to make sure your policies and procedures are updated and communicated well to your staff and other constituents.

To help you get started, here are the answers to seven questions regarding non-compete and non-disclosure agreements to make sure those documents are in order. And, check out this year-end checklist that includes information on reviewing your employee handbook, your finances, and your security practices and equipment. 

Third thing to know: It’s perfect timing to put together a wellness program. 

As everyone is thinking about New Year’s resolutions, the start of the new year is always great timing to motivate your team with a wellness program. However, during a time of a global pandemic, it’s even more at the forefront of our thoughts and actions. Here’s a rundown of the costs and benefits of an employee wellness program. Hint: This is a win-win for your business and your employees.

  • Email
  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Internship Programs

    3 Things to Know: Internship Programs

    A good internship program can be a win-win for students and small businesses. Here are three things we think you should know before internship season comes, and be sure to scroll down for details about the 2020 Cleveland Internship Summit.


    There might be snow on the ground now but summer will eventually come to Cleveland. And it’s never too early to start preparing for your summer internship opportunities. In this edition of our 3 Things to Know series, we are focusing on internship program planning. And, scroll to the bottom for information about the 2020 Cleveland Internship Summit on February 27.

    First thing to know: Don’t wing it

    It might not sound like something you have to give a lot of time and attention to, but in order for an internship opportunity to be an effective experience for all parties involved, you’ll need to do some advance planning. Here are nine tips to help you build a best-in-class internship program.

    Second thing to know: Don’t discount high school students

    Many people automatically think of college students when considering potential interns. But high school students can bring a lot to the table for a small business. From being tech savvy to being eager to learn, here are four reasons why high schoolers could be a good fit for your internship program.

    Third thing to know: Take it from an intern

    You don’t have to just listen to us—hear directly from an intern. In this piece, one of Greater Cleveland Partnership’s former interns shares eight tips for making the most out of an internship experience. You can use this advice when thinking through internships from your end, but be sure to also pass it along to your interns.

    And, if you or your interns would like to share your experiences working together, please contact Marie Zickefoose so that we can feature you in an upcoming blog post.

    Attend the 2020 Cleveland Internship Summit

    But you know one of the best ways to get your internship program prepared and perfected? Attend the 2020 Cleveland Internship Summit on February 27 at Corporate College East.

    The Summit will bring together business community representatives and educators to discuss how to increase and improve internship opportunities in Northeast Ohio through a range of panels and conversations.

    New for this year is programming that includes a track targeting those with long-term, established internship programs, and a track of topics for those who are seeking the foundational information, or the “nuts and bolts,” of building or growing an internship program.

    All attendees, no matter how established your program, will learn valuable information from local employers and experts, and discuss the value of internships to building a strong talent pipeline.

    Learn more about the Keynote speaker and breakout sessions, and register today!

  • Email
  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Starting the New Year off Right

    3 Things to Know: Starting the New Year off Right

    You might be tempted to wind things down in the office as the holidays come and go and we say goodbye to 2019. But if you want a good start to the New Year, take the following advice from our small business experts.


    The New Year is quickly approaching, and while there are parties to throw, gifts to wrap—and perhaps even vacations to take—now is actually a great time to start thinking about how you want to approach your business in 2020. Here are three topics our small business experts have written about when it comes to starting the New Year off right.

    First thing to know: Understanding the worth of your business is crucial

    It might not be something you think about often, but a new year is a good time to figure out one of the most important questions about your business: How much it’s worth. Knowing the true value of your business is crucial when it comes to proper business planning and achieving personal goals. Learn more about why this is important and how to conduct a business valuation.

    Second thing to know: It’s a good time to spruce up your brand

    There’s no better time for a brand refresh—or at least a brand touch-up—than a completely new year. Many small businesses don’t regularly evaluate their branding, which can lead to a stale and outdated look and feel. A business does not have to go through a complete rebrand to stay modern and interesting. Every business can see value in making simple updates to better connect your brand with the continually evolving perceptions and values of customers. Here are four easy and cost-effective tips to freshening up your branding.

    Third thing to know: Be mindful of your money

    The end of the year is a great time to review, correct and forecast your financial strategies to better leverage your company for growth in 2020. From consolidating debt to putting a succession plan in place, here are nine ways you can ensure your business is well-positioned for financial success in the new year.

  • Email
  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Vacationing as a Small Business Owner

    3 Things to Know: Vacationing as a Small Business Owner

    Before you decide that you can't get away for some time off this summer, check out these three things to know about vacationing as a small business owner. It will have you packing your bags in no time.

    Even small business owners need to take a break from their work from time to time. Since we are in peak summer vacation season, here are three things you should know when it comes to stepping away from your business.

    The first thing to know: It’s always a good idea. Vacation time, paid time-off, unplugging—whatever you call it, it’s an important part of any workplace wellness program and an effective way to better your bottom line. With a little time off, morale can be improved, stress can be lowered—leading to lower healthcare costs, and your business can witness increased productivity—among other benefits.

    The second thing to know: Your business doesn’t have to suffer. With the proper advanced planning and an effort toward blocking off your schedule, as well as making sure you prepare your clients (and staff) for your time away, you can make the most of your time off. Click here for four ways to recharge without neglecting your business.

    The third thing you need to know: You don’t have to stop learning. Lounging on the beach, being confined to the car on road-trips, and hanging out at home for a stay-cation are all great times to get caught up on topics of relevance to your work and to your growth as a business owner. In fact, here are 11 business books you should have read by now—and if not then add them to your reading list for your next vacation. And, if you’re the one doing the driving, you need to multitask, or the sun glare from your spot on the beach is just too much, learn why audio books and podcasts are good options.

    Speaking of learning, Mind Your Business would like to start featuring books, podcasts and other resources that have had a positive impact on you as a business owner, have helped you grow your business, or that you have personally had a role in writing, creating or producing. Contact us for more details or if you have a story to tell for this new series.

  • Email
  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Running a Business During the Holidays

    3 Things to Know: Running a Business During the Holidays

    Holidays for small businesses mean special offers, holiday parties, and maybe even some down time. Here are three things to know about running a business during the holidays. And, scroll to the bottom for an invite to COSE's ultimate holiday party and annual meeting.


    The holidays are quickly approaching so we’re making a list and checking it twice of some of the things our small business experts want you to know about running your business during this (most wonderful) time of the year.

    Need to know no. 1: It’s not too late to come up with a holiday strategy.

    But, the longer you wait the more likely you’ll be to miss out on getting your share of the nearly $1 trillion eager holiday shoppers are expected to spend this season. From offering value to your social followers to ensuring your customer service doesn’t miss a beat, check out these 10 takeaways when it comes to connecting with shoppers. And, here are 8 social media strategies to remember this holiday season.

    COSE is here to help! Small Business Saturday, which is November 30 this year, is a great opportunity for you to unveil your holiday offers—whether that includes discounts or a special event. COSE can help you promote these offerings. Send the details to Allison Halco and they might be featured on our social accounts or in a special Mind Your Business article.

    Need to know no. 2: Make the most of the downtime.

    For many companies—excluding, of course, retail—business slows down during the holidays as people take vacations and defer new decisions on purchases for the following year. This downtime creates a wonderful opportunity to reenergize yourself and your business. Here are five ideas on how to leverage your downtime this holiday season.

    Need to know no. 3: Balance recreation and liability at holiday parties

    Company holiday parties and other social events can promote a winning work culture. But mixing business with pleasure comes with risks. Here’s how to avoid liability at your company’s holiday party or next social event.

    Speaking of holiday parties—Register to attend COSE’s Big Party for Small Biz on December 11 at Music Box Supper Club. Join us as we celebrate another year at COSE’s Annual Meeting, including the ultimate holiday party celebrating all things small biz.

  • Email
  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Business Challenges

    3 Things to Know: Business Challenges

    Owning a business isn't always cupcakes and rainbows; facing obstacles and dealing with challenges are a consistent part of the job. Check out these three things our experts think you should know when it comes to business challenges.


    While there are many benefits and rewards to owning a small business, it certainly does not come without its struggles. In this month’s 3 Things to Know article, we challenge you to take a look at your business challenges.

    First thing to know: You are not alone

    You probably know this already but let us reiterate: every business and every business owner experiences hard times. Over the years, Mind Your Business has brought you several opportunities to hear from COSE members about the specific challenges they deal with on a regular basis. We featured interviews the Young Entrepreneur Institute conducted with COSE members, asking them about the most challenging obstacles they face as entrepreneurs. Here’s another interview with Cleveland Chain Reaction finalists who reveal what they find to be the most difficult parts of running a business.

    The blog’s Q-and-A series with investor level members is another way we’ve put a spotlight on these challenges. Here is one under-the-radar challenge that most business owners aren’t talking about from the perspective of one of COSE’s own.

    Second thing to know: Your challenges may be a result of your success

    With new sales, more demands from clients and increased staff needs, it might be hard to keep up with the onslaught of responsibilities of a growing business. If you have trouble delegating or don’t know when it’s time to ask for help, check out these tips to keeping up with your growth.

    Third thing to know: You can be prepared

    Speaking of difficulty keeping up with your growing business, this MYB article features COSE member Tim Dimoff, president of SACS Consulting and Investigative Services, who talks about his struggles with doing just that and how he could have been better prepared.

    COSE is always here to help you overcome small business challenges. Perhaps your challenge is in social media, pitching your business, or finding the resources you need to effectively run your business. Join us October 16 for the Small Business Resource Fair and meet entrepreneurial support organizations, discuss business challenges and opportunities, and more.

  • Email