What lessons did 2020 teach you that you will build into your 2021 business plan?
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that business processes require some significant changes. Have the lessons of 2020 affected how you will run your business next year and how have you built this into your 2021 business plan so that you can, hopefully, have a stabler, more prosperous and possibly even more 'normal' year?
I've always considered myself to be a 'glass half full' type of person, so 2020 was always going to be a year that tested my mettle. Due the unknown factor of COVID, I spent way too much time in the early stages glued to the TV taking in the daily stats, until I realised that all it was really doing was making me feel anxious.
Once I turned my focus away from mainstream media, and back onto business, was when I remembered that on the other side of crisis - is opportunity! My lesson was understanding that there will always be some sort of crisis happening, whether it be financial, political, environmental, or other, and that spending too much time in that arena is counter-productive both personally and in business.
Planning for 2021 is therefore about incorporating techniques into the business that create habits to minimise outside distractions and refocus on what our own mission is. This mostly involves swapping media time for professional and personal growth time so that when the next so-called crisis develops, we are ready financially and mentally to pursue the opportunity that follows.
Plan, but be ready to adapt when circumstances change.
By doing the planning, you will know all about your customers and what they care about. So when circumstances change, you will be in a great position to understand how you need to adapt to ensure they're still your number one priority.
I think one of the big things that I learned from 2020 was that the flexibility I thought I had worked into the business wasn't enough for the number of changes necessary in a short amount of time.
Also, as I've been ramping up for a new venture to kick-off after the new year I've learned a lot about logistics and international planning that previously I wouldn't have even thought to consider. I had narrowed down vendors to Italy and China, but both were hit extremely hard early on in the pandemic. I realized that change is often out of your control, so these priorities were put on hold indefinitely while trying to find vendors in areas not as impacted by the pandemic (I had narrowed prior to the pandemic happening).
Another lesson learned, don't be afraid to change directions and seek advice. I reached out to a mentoring organization (in the states called SCORE) to get some legal advice on some items I couldn't seem to figure out on my own even after research. When you realize you are spinning your wheels it is best to have someone else give you a different perspective and a way to regain momentum.
Additionally, using the unplanned downtime to learn new skills and tools is always a positive thing to do for personal and professional development. I've also tried to pay it forward by helping those around me that had to make some adjustments to keep working during this year of uncertainty.
Don't let a good pandemic go to waste!
Thanks Mark for the perspective of glass half full / glass half empty. How we view things is critical. If COVID has taught me anything it is I was using the wrong sized glass. There are opportunities available in every situation. We need to change our thinking from how bad the situation is to: how can we take advantage of it?
Don't think inside the box - think outside the decagon.
The world has changed permanently. Don't wait for it to return to "normal" because we are living in the new normal. What can you do to set your business apart from your competitors? You don't have to reinvent yourself.
Look at McDonlads as an example - they do not have the best product on the market (the burgers are better at Hungry Jacks) but they do it consistently better. You can do the same. But know your skills, abilities and limitations. Remember the proverb "If at first you don't succeed, sky diving is not for you." Work within your skill set, but push it to the limit. If necessary, employ the skills you need.
Don't take your eyes off the long game. As with most things, this too shall pass. Even if you can't follow-up on everything you want to do, plan for it so you are ready as things ease.