2021 is Coming, and Not Soon Enough!
by Frank L. Williams
It’s safe to say that 2020 has not been the year we hoped or expected. This year has thrown a bevy of curveballs at us, with the biggest of them being COVID-19. I’ve spoken with some who are excited that 2020 will soon come to an end, while others are concerned that 2021 will simply be an encore presentation.
My view is that 2021 is coming whether we’re ready or not, and we should strive to make the most of whatever hand we’re dealt.
The events of 2020 — particularly the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 — have wreaked havoc on businesses large and small. Restaurants and other hospitality and service businesses have been forced to close their doors. Some were able to shift their business model to takeout or delivery and were quite successful. Others are sadly gone forever.
Large businesses with big offices were suddenly forced to transition to remote working, with virtually no time to prepare. This involved much more than simply telling employees to work from home. Business leaders were forced to consider a wide range of issues, including data security, timekeeping, internal team communication, how to route phone calls to employees, and so on.
Salespeople who relied on the ability to travel to clients’ offices, shake their hands and talk to them across a table were forced to find new ways to make those connections.
Almost overnight, people who had never been on a video call were forced to sit through multiple Zoom calls every day. I’ve personally observed some of the least tech-savvy people I know functioning effectively on video calls in recent weeks.
As 2020 has so clearly demonstrated, there are many things in this world that are beyond our control. We can, however, control our attitude and mental approach to life. We can choose to view life’s curveballs as opportunities, not obstacles. The people who succeed in 2021 will be those who choose to see out the opportunities hidden in every challenge and who adapt to and conquer circumstances rather than being owned by them.
Business and organizational leaders should ponder a few key questions as 2020 comes to a close:
- What are your strategic goals? What do you want your business or organization to look like in one year? Five years?
- What worked for your organization in 2020? How can you build upon these successes?
- What weaknesses or vulnerabilities did the events of 2020 expose? How can you guard against them in 2021?
- How have the events of 2020 changed your clients’ expectations? What research should you do to ensure that you have a clear understanding of what they need and want?
- If COVID-19 restrictions continue into the New Year, how might they affect your ability to serve your clients, and how can you adapt your product or service delivery model accordingly?
- Does your online presence enable customers to quickly and easily find accurate information on how to do business with you in today’s environment?
- How should you adjust your marketing and public relations activities to reach the right people in 2021?
- How can you leverage the more widespread use of videoconferencing technology to reach new clients?
As a business leader, you should also consider what you can do each and every day to keep your head up and keep your eye on the ball. I believe this begins with having clear goals and is sustained by focusing on those goals, reading or listening to positive information that educates and motivates you, and surrounding yourself with optimistic people.
Paul Harvey said, “I’ve never seen a monument erected to a pessimist.” Let’s each resolve to make 2021 a year that enhances each of our professional legacies.