There can be no doubt that 2020 has thrown up challenges that we have never experienced before. The world has faced a global pandemic (as if I need to tell you), lockdowns have encircled the globe and businesses have faced some of the toughest times in their history.
Whilst the news has been filled with what seems like an endless stream of bad stuff, there have been some positives to come out of it. So, what are the lessons we can learn from 2020?
1. Small businesses are very resilient
Lockdown 1 showed us immediately how adaptable and resilient small businesses are. With the large corporations struggling to meet their customers expectations, small businesses leapt in and filled the gaps.
From local stores offering delivery services, to Brewers, unable to sell their beer, altering their process to make hand sanitizer for Hospitals.
Small businesses are at the heart of the UK economy and have, once again, shown just how important they are.
2. There’s never a bad time to start a business
How many times do we hear (or tell ourselves) “now is not a good time to start a business.” For most, 2020 must seem like the worst time possible. The truth is there’s never an ideal time to start a business, because it will be hard no matter when you do it.
But history has taught us that many great businesses started during a recession – AirBnB, Disney, Microsoft and Uber to name a few.
This year I have helped a number of new businesses get up and running, and I can say, without exception, they are all loving it!
Thinking about it?
With redundancy either threatening or already a reality, starting your own business is an option many people are considering. Others have enjoyed the experience of working from home, spending time with their family, and having their own business can make this a long-term reality.
My advice – do your planning properly and don’t wait for perfect market conditions, there is no such thing!
3. Even the mighty can fall
The collapse of Arcadia and Debenhams, amongst others, shows us how even the biggest companies can fail. What we must learn is why they failed, and whilst the Pandemic may have been the final nail in the coffin, the failure goes much deeper than that.
4. Business has changed
I admit I had never heard of Zoom until around mid-March. Now it, along with Teams, Remo and others, seem to have taken over the world. The way business is conducted has changed dramatically in 2020.
Working from home has become the norm for a lot of people, some like it, some don’t. For businesses there are pros and cons. Lowering of office costs and reducing the office space needed could have a long-term benefit for a business. However, there can be a loss of control and a lowering of the collective spirit that comes from working together.
Keep in touch
I have no doubt these online meetings are here to stay, and we will all have to get on board with it. It may mean that we all travel a bit less which could be good for the environment as well as the wallet!
There are still times when there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. But keeping in touch with clients and customers by other means is more important than ever. This is where small businesses hold the advantage, and the most successful one’s are great at it.
2020 has been a year to adapt to a new way of life, and whilst many are hoping this is only temporary, I, for one, hope we can learn that going back to ‘normal’ should not be an option.
Through lockdown 1 we saw:
- A national coming together in support of our NHS workers, a real sense of community.
- Neighbours talking to each other and helping each other out.
- Families spending quality time together. This has been a wake-up call to many people that I have spoken to, who learnt (like I did a couple of years ago) that there is nothing wrong with prioritising friends and family over working long hours just to keep the boss happy.
- With the lack of traffic and other pollutants, I could feel that the air was cleaner. It may have only been temporary, but the environmental impact could be felt, and showed us how permanent changes really are needed.
Don't go back
I hope we can take these improvements and make them permanent. Rather than just dismissing 2020 as a year to forget, I prefer to look at it as a wake-up call that we need to change. And 2020 has shown us that we can!
The local community made a big comeback in 2020. Small businesses were able to play a major part in that, and I’m sure will continue to do so.
Happy new year everyone.