Start Your Future Success Today

Guest Post by Robin Suomi, Founder of Startup to Growth

The business landscape changed in 2020, and savvy business owners adjusted. The entire nation went digital in record time, including small businesses. So what is the future for business?

Some people believe that once the pandemic is over we will go back to “normal.” If this describes you, please…just…stop.  Instead, start winning your future success today, no matter what the future holds.

How do you do that? Focus to basic business principles.

Know Your Industry and Competitors

Your job is to successfully manage and grow your business through COVID and the whatever-comes-next waters. Will there be another pandemic? I don’t know. Will there be another big disruption? I’m pretty sure there will be.

Regardless of what is next, start by staying current with your industry knowledge and know what your competitors are up to. Calendar time to read articles and blogs by respected authors. Ask yourself:

  • What new trends are emerging?
  • Are my competitors changing their services by offering new ones and retiring others?
  • Are they delivering their services through different platforms?
  • Are they beginning to schedule in-person events?
  • Are they raising their prices?
  • Are they introducing tiered pricing?

Use the knowledge you gain to adapt and pivot in ways that make strategic sense for you and your business. Hint: Just because others are changing their services or prices does not mean you should change.

Regardless, you do need to know what your industry and competitors are doing so you can make the best strategic decision for you and your business. Be flexible, informed, and ready to pivot quickly.

What New Business Skills Do You Need?

While we do not know what the “new normal” will look like, we do know that successful business owners need to have an extremely strong digital presence. In-person events and meetings will likely increase, and your digital presence will continue to be critical to your success.

You might be thinking you are too far behind the curve to have an effective digital presence. Hogwash. It is never too late to learn a skill that will help you compete successfully.

First, decide what skills you need. With the information you gained from reading articles, trend tracking and looking at your competitors, decide what skills you need to update or learn from scratch.


  • Do you need to boost your impact by changing your digital marketing strategy?
  • Are you thinking of writing a book to become an undisputed expert in your field?
  • Are you considering launching a podcast and want to know how to market it?
  • How are your social media graphics? Can you use Canva to up your game?
  • Is it time to revise your elevator speech, so you shine in those Zoom calls?
  • How about sales? Is it time to finally embrace sales, once and for all?
  • Are you ready to investigate YouTube Live marketing?
  • Do you need to take a fresh look at your entire marketing strategy?
  • Your website is critical. Is it time to update it?
  • Are you ready to tackle Facebook and Instagram marketing?

These are all great areas for new business skills.

Be Prepared to Feel Awkward

Have you ever watched a toddler learn to walk? Within a few months they move from awkward to walking with confidence to zipping around the room at breakneck speed. That can be you with your new business skills.

Let’s use video as an example of a new skill. HubSpot reports that, “Explainer videos have seen huge success. An overwhelming majority of people (94%) report watching explainer videos to learn more about a product, with 84% being swayed to make a purchase.” How quickly can you say WOW?!  Biteable states that, “YouTube has the best ROI for video content, followed by Facebook and Instagram.”

Let’s say you have decided you want to dip your toe in the water and start using video. First, congratulations! I love that you are stepping up and using a marketing tool that is so powerful!

Keeping with the video example, let me set your expectations a bit. At first video will feel awkward and extremely uncomfortable! I am basing this upon personal experience as well as helping others through their first few videos.

You will be like that toddler learning to walk. However, with time and practice, you will soon master it and be the toddler equivalent of zipping around the room.

The same awkward feeling will likely occur whenever you tackle most new business skills. New elevator pitch? Ugh. Sales? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Properly armed with your new mindset and sales process, those first few sales calls and meetings are still going to just feel awkward. Do not give up!  Work through those awkward feelings because what you want is on the other side of awkward!

Find Trusted Resources to Guide You

There is a plumber and there is a plumber. You want the plumber who has a known reputation, and rocks at plumbing. The same is true when finding trusted resources for your new business skills.

You are reading a blog from a trusted resource right now.  Jill Kurtz of Kurtz Digital Strategy is an expert in her field and is one of my go-to resources when I refer clients out for digital strategy.

How do you find other high-quality resources for writing a book, podcasting, graphics, elevator speeches, sales, YouTube Live, marketing strategy, your website and Facebook and Instagram marketing? You can check out your local chamber, review reputable websites and ask friends for referrals.

Another resource you can check out is MEG (My Entrepreneurial Group) membership, an affordable resource Startup to Growth launched. Members get on-demand access to educational videos produced by trusted subject-matter experts. The videos cover the topics discussed in this blog, and we are adding more videos regularly. On the near horizon are LinkedIn, creating your newsletter and a video about women-owned business certifications. MEG allows members to expand their knowledge base on their own schedule and at their own pace.

Create a Plan

It is time to put a plan in place.  Survey your industry and competitors, decide which skills you want to refresh or learn from scratch, be prepared to feel a bit awkward at first, find trusted resources to guide you, and put your plan in place!

These steps will let you start winning your future success today. I wish you much business success in our ever-changing small business world!

About the Author

Robin Suomi, Founder of Startup to Growth, is a small business coach who believes that success is rarely accidental and that results require action. She has worked with thousands of small business owners through business planning, individual and group coaching, training and membership programs. She helps her clients realize their dreams their way. If you have feedback or questions about this post or about MEG, connect with her at

Instagram Reels and Your Brand

Instagram Reels is a relatively new Instagram feature. They offer a way to build your community and grow your reach on Instagram. Reels make it easy to build relationships with your customer base and strengthen the community you’re trying to build.

They are also a fun and engaging way to share viral (and creative!) snippets with your audience. Users create 15-second video clips set to music and share to their Stories, Explore Feed, and the new Reels tab on a user’s profile.

You can find the Reels feed on the Instagram Explore Page. Instead of only seeing Reels from accounts you follow as you scroll, you will see Reels from popular and trending accounts on Instagram.

While the Reels algorithm isn’t known, it is likely influenced by who you already follow, what content you interact with, and where you’re located.

How to Create Reels

Select Reels at the bottom of the Instagram camera. You’ll see a variety of creative editing tools on the left side of your screen to help create your reel, including:

  • Search for a song from the Instagram music library. You can also use your own original audio by simply recording a reel with it. When you share a reel with original audio, your audio will be attributed to you.
  • An effect gallery, created both by Instagram and creators all over the world, lets you record clips with different effects.
  • Use the  timer to record any of your clips hands-free. Once you press record, you’ll see a 3-2-1 countdown, before recording begins for the amount of time you selected.
  • You can speed up or slow down part of the video or audio you selected. This can help you stay on a beat or make slow motion videos.

Product and Branded Content Tags for Reels

Product tags, which are also available for Instagram posts and Stories, make Reels posts shoppable. Posts with product tags, from businesses and creators, can now be promoted as ads as well.

In addition to product tags, Instagram has also added branded content tags to Reels and Live. These tags are intended to improve transparency for sponsored posts.

What’s Next: Instagram Reels on Facebook?

Speculation is that Instagram Reels will soon appear in Facebook news feeds. The option to share Reels across platforms advances Facebook’s vision of interoperability between its family of apps.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags make or break your Instagram campaign. Without them, your audience will not see your posts. The right tags also help shape your brand image on the platform.

The Power of the Instagram Hashtag

Hashtags are a crucial component of Instagram’s categorization system. They create the content streams that people use to find content.

Instagram hashtags are clickable, so people can see them on another person’s post, and click a tag to find your content elsewhere. Plus, users can choose to follow hashtags, giving you yet another method of discovery.

Types of Instagram Hashtags

The best Instagram posts usually contain about 11 tags that are one or more of the following types:

  • Basic words that describe the service or product
  • Specialty area or industry
  • Event tags
  • Location tags
  • Day of the week themes like #MotivationMonday
  • Branded hashtags specifically designed for the business

Use Hashtags Wisely

Develop a list of the hashtags that are best to use with your content. Don’t just make them up – research what is in use and double check the meaning of any hashtag before you use it.

Find tags by looking at related content and what’s trending on the platform. You can also use a hashtag generator to suggest hashtags based on the words and phrases already associated with your business.

Where to Use Hashtags

Hashtags should be used everywhere on Instagram: stories, videos, reels, captions and your bio.

Assess Hashtag Performance

The easiest way to discover which tags are working best for you is to use the Instagram Insights feature in your Business profile. The data will show you impressions and engagement.

Under the Discovery section, Instagram will tell you how many of your impressions came from hashtags, compared to the number coming from your profile or the Instagram home page.