Let’s face it, I don’t think there can be many of us who aren’t glad to see the back of 2020.
So now we turn to 2021 with its promise of a vaccine, and although it is going to take time for this to be rolled out across the population, it signals the ending of this chapter of the pandemic and the start of a new, and more hopeful period.
For many businesses this has been a truly torrid time. Whole sectors effectively shut down and many relying on government support just to continue to exist. We don’t know the long-term effects of all this, but we can guess that it’s not going to be good.
But there have been businesses that have survived and those who have thrived through all of this chaos. What can we all learn from these businesses? What can we take into 2021 and apply to our own situations?
- It’s digital stupid!
If being digitally savvy wasn’t important before…it is now. The digital revolution started over 25 years ago, but not everyone has been convinced. They should be now. Making your business, your offering, as digitally connected as possible is now imperative. It may cost money and take resource, but haven’t we just learned that this was money well spent? Businesses that thrived in 2020 understood this. From simple things like making working-from-home work, to sales and client retention. It all works in pretty much any circumstance if you’ve made it digital. Ok, not every business can go 100% digital, but you don’t need to. Just look at what you do on a day-to-day basis and see what you can improve and convert.
2. Yes, relationships are the bedrock of business, and yes, you can build relationships on Zoom and Teams.
The age of hefty travel expense accounts is looking decidedly wobbly right now. If your team just can’t wait to get back out on the road again, you are making a big mistake. Many of the largest and most successful businesses during 2020 don’t rely on any face-to-face meetings. They build and manage relationships cleverly by using video, audio, and web presentations to get information and help to their prospects and clients. Every off-line trip needs to be scrutinised and justified. It is a refreshing and liberating fact, that you can operate efficiently in almost any business environment without helping add some exhaust fumes into the atmosphere.
3. Your business plan could probably do with an overhaul.
A lot of businesses were caught on the hop with outdated and incomplete business plans. A great business plan serves many purposes. It can help keep staff and management on the same page, working to the same goal and a great plan is a sign of thoughtfulness and preparation. This is the type of document that a lender or other partner will expect to see if you are trying to grow your business. But above all, a well prepared and thought through business plan allows you the time to really think through what your business is all about and what you need to do to succeed. It is a great discipline and often overlooked.
4. It’s all about me and how I feel!
Your staff have been through a weird and crazy year. Many have taken the time that they haven’t been on holiday, or the months they were on furlough to think about what their work means to them and how their current situation affects their health and mental wellbeing. It may come as a surprise to some employers that this sense of individual satisfaction and concern for their personal future trumps getting a paycheck! One of the clear lessons of 2021 is that keeping valuable staff involves being a lot more creative with how the working week looks and feels. Downtime shouldn’t be looked as unproductive, if it means that the happy staff member steps up in a more engaged way when required.
5. Good management matters more than ever.
One of the most important lessons from the last year has been the importance of good communication. When everyone is in the same office or workshop, we take communication for granted. With remote working becoming the new normal, it is all too easy for individuals to drop through the cracks. We need to figure out clever ways to keep communicating with our teams to keep them in the loop. It’s not just about the weekly round up anymore. It’s the small interactions that show you know what’s happening in their work and their life. Your employees want this and expect a good leader to be able to be a solid communicator.