The year we just left behind is one that will be remembered for many negative reasons. But it has also given us extraordinary demonstrations of resilience, adaptability and innovation. As we reflect on this challenging year and start a new one, we asked fellow business owners about their business lessons during the pandemic, so that we can all learn from each other and start the new year with a fresh and optimistic perspective.
Don’t fear failure
Last year Marja Verbon, Founder at Jump learned that it's ok to fail. Marja shares: “With Covid, I have had to become comfortable with failure because it was so inevitable - both in the plans I had set for our business, as well as in my personal life. As a result, as a professional, business leader and in our company as a team, we have actually been able to be a lot more productive. Instead of worrying to make something perfect, we got things out quicker, even if there was a chance they'd fail. Roll on 2021, when we can turn this being comfortable with failing into a big success!”
Learn new ways to communicate
Dhruvin Patel, Optometrist and Founder of Ocushield found opportunities in remote working. ”This year has taught me that business can carry on remotely without the need to be under one roof. We have adapted, executed and succeeded with challenges of poor internet, being stuck indoors etc. It also has shown we can hire best talent from anywhere in the world as we are not stuck by demographics anymore”, shared Dhruvin.
Last year, Tae Hea Nahm, co-founding MD of Storm Ventures had to do all his meetings with potential founders he’s looking to invest in over Zoom. Here’s what he says: “The thing that I’ve developed most is learning to read people over video. I would usually have lunches and dinners with potential founders to invest in to get a sense of them as a person and assess the chemistry between any co-founders. At first this was hard to replicate in a video conference. It’s a challenge to stay on video for longer than the set time. So, I’ve initiated longer video calls, and learned to encourage more open-ended conversations in the same way as a dinner may go. With multiple people on a call, it’s easy for one person to monopolise, so I’ve learned to watch their faces and know when they have something to say and to actively encourage them to speak. That’s the only way I can establish if the chemistry is right in the companies, I might want to invest in.”
Accept, adapt and evolve
“Your heart will feel like it's broken as you see years of hard work, turn into ambiguity, maybe even an end. Nevertheless, adversity shows our capabilities of transformation. Being able to transform your business in days to adapt to a certain circumstance. When things go rough, it's an opportunity to discover how creative one can get. Seeing things from a different perspective so that you can see all the possibilities there are, where there seems none.” says Melanie Ramone, Founder of LuxurWeddings.
“Working in the events industry with our 1970s campervans, this year has required a lot of thinking. No more Glastonbury to rock up to, or weddings and parties to pootle to. We used our time to collaborate with other industry suppliers to create styled photo shoots that benefitted us all and showcased our skills, products and services - from venues to photographers, models to stylists - we all worked together for free to help each other. The results not only gave us incredible media to showcase our business - but grew our industry network connections, and social media presence. Sitting back was not an option - looking at the problem, acting fast and building services with little capital investment and collaboration was the way forwards to a stronger 2021.” shares Nathalie Selvon-Bruce, Managing Director of Buttercup Bus Vintage Campers.
"As recruitment is such a fast-paced and rapidly changing industry, I'd considered myself and my team to be incredibly adaptable in the first place. But 2020 has taught me the significance and importance of being as flexible as you can be, as quickly as you can be. For me and my team, surviving this year has not just been about managing the changes in my business and industry, but the evolving circumstances of my clients and learning how to continually support them and meet their expectations,"
added Mandy Watson, Director at Ambitions Personnel.
Focus on work-life balance
Kyle Borgman, Chief Executive Officer of Circletree Enterprises has learned that consistent and constant action is the answer to bad economic times. “However, as a CEO or business owner, that can't stop with business. That must be involved in your personal life too. Most CEO's in the U.S. aren't troubled by their business life, but they're troubled by their personal life. I started a consistent morning routine which even helped me start my day off in a much better mood.”, added Kyle.
Focus on building trust
Shilpa Panchmatia, Business Growth Coach believes that trust is the cornerstone of all business relationships. “During a crisis like a pandemic, employees, customers, team members and suppliers are going to really value trust in a relationship more than ever before. If the business has not developed deep relationships with their stakeholders, you may not swim across an emergency as smoothly. Take care to develop and nurture these relationships of deep and reciprocal trust”, recommends Shilpa.