There's no doubt that 2020 will go down in history as a bad year, and that's certainly held true for many Kiwi merchants. But as we reach the end of the year, the forecast looks a little brighter. With several vaccines likely to begin being distributed around the world in December, hopefully we'll see life return to normal in 2021.

Once you've happily said farewell to 2020, how can you turn around and make 2021 your best year ever? The team at Paymark has some tips to help 2021 be a huge rebound for your business:

Learn the lessons of 2020

Take stock of what helped you make it through 2020. Maybe it was a leaner structure or better systems. Or did you change your focus, cut costs or eliminate low-profit offerings? Think carefully about the changes that worked so you can reinforce those in 2021 - and remember what didn't work, too.

If you only take one lesson from the pandemic, perhaps the one to choose is the importance of good leadership. Rod Oram spoke to Kiwi business leaders and identified key leadership skills, including rapid decision-making, being future-focused and digitising business. Aim to lead decisively and effectively in 2021.

Invest in systems and technology

Sixty percent of New Zealand's small businesses had tech issues during lockdown and the experience forced many Kiwis to improve our online skills, learn to video call and buy a new laptop. Embracing new technology will have improved productivity for many Kiwi businesses; continuing to invest in systems and technology could boost your profits even further as our economy rebounds.

Be prepared for ecommerce to keep gaining momentum

The future for shopping is digital - the massive jump in online consumerism will continue to gain momentum next year and into the future. Lockdown was the catalyst for 15% of small businesses to set up an ecommerce website for the first time, while 55% looked into new technology to help the business.

Your ecommerce solutions need to be reliable, flexible and user-friendly. If your business is to solve ecommerce issues, talk to us about CLICK for better customer experiences and secure, simple online payments. Successful ecommerce also means making transactions more seamless to avoid abandoned shopping carts. If you're only offering credit card payment, it's time to investigate more options. Online EFTPOS has been gaining popularity because it allows your customers to pay online using their smartphone. It also offers savings of up to 80% per transaction for merchants, as well as no monthly fees, no gateway fees and no chargebacks.

Make the most of a potential economic rebound

There is debate about whether 2021 will bring a "strong rebound in economic activity" or whether there will be a secondary slump. Only time will tell, but for now, local economic indicators are positive. Consumer confidence is on the rise, with retail trade jumping strongly in spring, although we're still not back to pre-Covid levels in some categories. Even the global recovery is happening more quickly than expected, despite all the setbacks from the pandemic.

International travel is likely to see the biggest post-Covid boom, with so-called 'bucket list' trips already being booked for 2021. Economist Tony Alexander also predicts a strong summer for furniture, whitewear, hardware, electronics and domestic tourism. Having your systems and ecommerce in place should allow you to make the most of any rebound in your industry.

You survived, now its time to thrive

One last thing before you launch into another busy year: take a moment to celebrate. Congratulate your team and give yourself a pat on the back. Not all businesses survived 2020, so you've being doing something right. And you should feel more confident than ever. If your business survived 2020, it's well positioned to thrive in even the toughest conditions.