Business Lessons from 2020 that We Can Apply Beyond
It may be a cliché to say that 2020 was unexpected, but in a business world where less than 10% of businesses make it to year 6 was it really? After reviewing our own 2020 where we helped over 1,500 businesses worldwide, here are seven lessons that we’ve taken away.
1) Expect the unexpected. Contingency planning may be an unfashionable part of your business and marketing plan, but it is in there as a section for a reason. Every business should have a back up plan in case you cannot sell your usual products or services to your usual customers. You may never use it, but you still need it!
2) Cash flow is king. This saying has often been quoted by countless business advisors around the world. What was very evident in 2020 for countless industries was the need to have cash on hand to pay staff, suppliers and advisors to keep going through the tough times. If not you needed great trust-based relationships to lean on.
3) Keep marketing. In the early days of lockdown we saw an explosion of marketing and social media efforts by thousands of businesses, offering their various services and products, many times for free. The issue was that, as we predicted at the time, most people stopped those activities within 3 months of starting. Meanwhile, those that kept going prospered.
4) It’s never too late to review your costs. As an online training business with international clients, we typically use around 10 different software types to deliver our various solutions. During lockdown #1 we took the time to review those costs, analyse and test alternatives and the result was a 75% reduction in software costs while also moving to platforms that create BETTER, attendee engagement!
5) You don’t have to be average. While the mass media often spoke about industry contraction by 20%, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to lose. I.E. simple maths shows you that for every business that contracts by 40%, someone the same size stays the same; and for every business that losses everything, someone of the same size must grow by 80%! Your mindset on this point alone can be enough to get you taking positive action.
6) Be generous. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, you’ve likely read countless people saying that what you receive in life and business is related to how much you give your time and/or money to others. If there’s one thing we learned in 2020 ourselves was that you can sometimes give more to help those in a worse position than you, even with your own challenges.
7) Have fun. While I don’t recommend an unsafe workplace, one of the best ways to build mental resilience and positivity is to ensure you find ways to enjoy your work or your homelife (and for many millions of people in 2020 there was a VERY blurred line between these two elements!) For our youngest, Tik Tok was a great source of fun, plus a way to bring our family together to laugh at the craziness of 2020!
While 2020 led to huge global shifts from a social perspective such as how families interacted, how schools taught and how people holidayed, most industries traditionally go through a downturn and upswing every 8 years. Addressing the 7 lessons above have certainly helped us be more successful and ready for 2021.
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