I think we all breathed a sigh of relief to finally be looking at 2020 in the rear view mirror, and being the resilient humans and optimistic business people that we are, there was something hopeful and almost “cleansing” about the very act of turning the calendar page to a brand new year.
We learned a lot last year – about non-traditional communications tools and techniques, and about flexibility and working under pressure. Zooming became a verb, masking-up became a habit, and human interaction became a treasure to never be taken for granted again.
A lot of businesses suffered, and a lot of business owners had to reset their goals and expectations. Most of us grew up in an economy which, while it had its various ups and downs, for the most part, offered us a myriad of opportunities if we were smart enough to recognize them and quick enough to capitalize on them.
The past year vividly showed us that sometimes it doesn’t matter how smart or creative or connected we are. Sometimes the brute force of a catastrophe as widespread, frightening and even paralyzing as a worldwide pandemic outstrips our ability to control our own destinies.
But here are some of the good things that came out of this unprecedented year – some of the key learnings that business owners can take with them into 2021:
· Flexibility is the name of the game. The winners are businesses which are not stuck in only one way of doing things. They can create contingency plans on the fly and can go with them quickly before their “old model” takes them down.
· People matter the most. Businesses are comprised of people, not just products and services. Good people make the products and deliver the services, so it is important for employers to take care of “the geese who lay the golden eggs” because without them there are no eggs.
· Communication became more important in 2020. And I don’t mean just communication tools and technology. I mean clear, concise communication with a company’s key internal and external audiences and stakeholders. Because of the volume and intensity of information that came at us last year, businesses needed to have the ability to quickly take it in, determine what it means to them and their audiences of importance, and then repackage it for dissemination in real time.
· Facing reality became critical for many businesses last year. There is a fine line between buckling down and trying harder, and recognizing when it’s time for major changes and then implementing them in a timely way.
· Innovation became more important that ever in 2020. Businesses who could be true innovators in their industry were the winners as last year drew to a close. From implementing small changes that made a big difference to literally turning their companies upside down and entering brand new markets with brand new products, many companies were saved by their abilities to think outside the box.
So all was not lost in 2020. We may feel a little “beaten and bruised,” but many businesses find themselves stronger and more resilient with honed-down but more committed teams, as well as new opportunities that they may never have previously recognized or seized upon.
Our struggles are not over yet, but I believe we are better positioned to face them and to hopefully capitalize on interesting opportunities that we may not have even recognized previously.
Here’s to 2021 and putting to work all that we have learned!