2020: A Year of Lessons We Never Knew We Needed

Well, 2020, we did not expect that!

Toilet paper panic buying, elbow-bump greetings, work from home, takeaway cocktails, Zoom meetings and home schooling. This year has been a chaos of unimaginable lifestyle changes, pivoting businesses and economic shutdowns.

But it has also seen inspiring moments of genuine change, a rise in “buy local” campaigns and an upsurge in kindness and compassion to one another.

And within our own local businesses, it has been one we will never forget.

Working with our clients this year, we saw that doing business during a pandemic was challenging (to say the least), but we also saw you become more adaptable and resilient.

Here are four important lessons we learnt during the year that was, and what parts you should hold onto.

We saw businesses pivot

“Pivot” became the buzzword of 2020. Perhaps the biggest lesson of the year for businesses was how to be agile and respond super quickly to ever-changing events. The situation made small business realise how important it is to change with the times and to be willing to shift gears when necessary. We helped our clients respond quickly, creatively and with more flexibility than ever before.

For some businesses, the shift unveiled the gaps and weaknesses in their businesses, helping to pinpoint errors and improve them for future. We saw so many examples of businesses adapting and learning new lessons in order to survive and succeed.

We saw businesses really value relationships

The relationships your business has with customers and employees has always been key. As businesses shut down, confusion was high and morale was low, and it was communication that allayed fears or grew them. Many business owners found that empathising with their teams and customers, and focussing on unity was essential.

“We are all in this together” took on a whole new meaning, where we saw business competitors helping each other out, and unlikely partnerships forming.

As we are all returning to a somewhat “regular” workplace, plan to keep up the improvements in communication. And continue to nurture that feeling of community with customers, suppliers and employees. That goodwill may be the best advertising your business has ever had.

We saw businesses become more resilient

Resilience is all about preparing your business for the hard times. This year has certainly highlighted the importance of building strategies for handling this change. Crisis management and continuity plans were put in place and we saw time and again how local businesses quickly adapted to provide services outside their norm. Cafes became take-away outlets, gyms found Zoom classes and schools became distance education centres. As most businesses were impacted by the crisis, they had to quickly readjust and find what products or services were more profitable, which channels reached more customers and what campaigns were able to get more leads on.

Don’t have a crisis plan or strategy? Get one. Have a good, hard, honest look at how the pandemic affected your business, what steps you needed to take to notify and protect workers and what was needed to continue meeting customer expectations. As you review what worked and what didn’t, this should become the starting point for you to address any future issues.

We saw businesses embrace innovation and technology

This year, technology was relied on more than ever before. The disruption that COVID caused highlighted how critical it is to be online. As employees started working from home, clients communicated through Zoom and customers shopped online, the digital collaboration tools quickly became essential and will definitely remain a staple well after the pandemic ends. Email became the go-to for getting information out quickly and directly to customers and staff. Social media served as effective messaging channels to stay in contact and became powerful channels for marketing and advertising, as well as spreading messages of support and compassion. Keep riding the wave of technological communication because it isn’t going away.

These are just some of the lessons of 2020. No doubt, you have learnt about yourself and your business more than you ever thought possible. It’s been such a big, full year of challenges and uncertainty, and the speed and scope of the COVID crisis posed extraordinary tests for us all. But you did it. You made it through. Pat yourself on the back. And don’t forget we are always here for you -pandemic or not. We are your partners in business, and when you succeed, we succeed.

Thank you for trusting us. Bring on 2021.

Find more great tips, stories, and other seriously useful information in our Business Resource Centre.

Disclaimer: Whilst this publication has been carefully prepared it is written in general terms and is intended as general information and to provide commentary. It does not purport to be comprehensive or render any advice. No one should rely on information contained in this publication without first obtaining professional advice relevant to their specific situation.

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