It has been an interesting year to say the least, and surely one that none of us were expecting when we were making our goals at the end of 2019. As the end of 2020 looms near, it’s a good time to start considering your business’ future and the goals you’ll set for 2021.
Of course, a large part of future-planning is rooted in the lessons you’ve learned in the past. Looking back can help you avoid making repeat mistakes or show you the best way to approach a previously-faced challenge with foresight. With COVID-19 turning 2020 on its head, it’s safe to say that most of us have learned quite a number of lessons this year.
Some businesses have had to close shop for the time being. Others have had to lay off or furlough their teams. Many of us are dealing with the daily challenges of balancing remote work with childcare and virtual schooling.
Fortunately, humans are naturally adaptable beings and most people have found some semblance of a ‘new normal’ in comparison to the confusion and uncertainty of early spring. As we look back on the lessons of 2020, here are our top business takeaways from a truly unprecedented year.
Your team is your most valuable asset.
This lesson was especially driven home this year as many businesses faced the difficult challenge of letting go dedicated employees due to the downturn in revenue. For those that retained their team, it became a mindful approach to sending them home and collaborating from a remote basis. It suddenly became crystal clear why a reliable team was so instrumental for a business’ success.
In that, many have had to learn the ropes of remote leadership on the spot. We’ve discovered the importance of team morale and how we can help our employees become better in all aspects. We may have even filled in for emotional support as we navigated this year as a team. There is a lot you can easily do on your own, but running—and scaling—a business is hardly one of them. Your team is worth their weight in gold and, after this year, you likely won’t forget it.
Rest is a resource.
When the pandemic struck in March, many of us found ourselves with nothing to do but worry in the weeks that followed. Events were being postponed and cancelled, storefronts and restaurants were closing, and we were all instructed to stay home as much as possible. This is a rather jarring transition for event professionals who are used to being busy.
However, when the dust started to settle, it became clear that there was a silver lining: time to relax, refresh, and recharge with family. Prior to the pandemic, this simple blessing in life was often overlooked in favor of ‘the hustle.’ Now that we’ve all had a chance to remember the truly important things in life, this is a lesson to retain today, tomorrow, and beyond the pandemic. Life is short and there’s much more to it than nonstop work.
Communication is essential.
It might feel like the time we didn’t spend on event production was, instead, dedicated to communicating with our clients, creative partners, and team members. In the confusion of shutdowns, social distancing, and group mandates, it became our sole responsibility to keep our clients as informed as possible. Even when things were changing by the hour, we were making phone calls, sending emails, and checking the news for updates to ensure everyone was on the same page.
It's clear that communication is vital for effective crisis management, but a proactive approach is just as important as a reactive one. Going forward, keep your communication skills strong and prioritize your relationships with clients, employees, and other vendors. When you communicate effectively, you will earn a worthy level of trust that will see you through the ups and downs of life.
Be firm but flexible.
There’s a certain value in holding firm to your stances, but 2020 has forced even the most rigid of us to learn how to be more flexible in business and in personal life. You may have made some concessions on your contract’s cancellation clause or perhaps you decided to let your employees set their own hours. Maybe you even gave yourself a day off here and there to manage the pressure of running a business during a pandemic.
Flexibility is in the nature of a crisis that is constantly evolving, as businesses need to be prepared to adapt and pivot their operations according to the latest updates. With that said, it’s no reason to toss out all of your principles; staying firm to your business values is what keeps the wheels turning whether you’re in a crisis situation or not.
More than anything, the biggest takeaway from 2020 is that the event industry is resilient. We’ve seen businesses pivot (and thrive), relationships grow, and communities bonded for life. While there’s a lot that can be said about the pandemic, the silver lining is that it has brought us closer together—even if it’s forced us to be physically distant. Shared pain becomes shared healing and, rest assured, the events community will rise up and return to ‘business as usual’—and it will be stronger for it.