This was not the year we were planning when we were ringing in the new decade at the end of 2019. Instead, this year has presented challenge after challenge and, as business owners, we have had to adapt our companies and our lives to navigate it all. As we move closer to 2021 (and, hopefully, a resolution to the pandemic), it can feel like there’s a lot of uncertainty that lies ahead.
What will the event industry look like once the dust settles?
Although there are no guarantees for what 2021 will bring, we should still be preparing our businesses to take on whatever may come our way. Here are a few ways to wrap up 2020 as you would any other year, but with the extra precautions necessary during this time.
Evaluate your year
There’s a good chance that your numbers are down this year and, while it’s hard to accept, it’s still essential to run through all that you’ve accomplished this year. Review your year-over-year numbers to see if there is a loss and, if so, how drastic it is. Connect with your team and discuss the year as a whole—from pre-COVID Q1 results to actions taken to navigate the spring and summer, all the way through for expectations of the rest of the year. There’s no doubt that you’ve learned some lessons along the way, so get clear on your 2020 takeaways and set aside any negativity that you might associate with this year. It’s time to set our sights on the future.
Start planning for reopening
Although we’re still somewhat working on a week-to-week basis, now is a good time to start making concrete plans for the transition back to full capacity. We might not know when it will happen, but we can be certain that it will—and savvy business owners will be proactive to ensure they are prepared for it. Check in with each of your current clients, particularly with those who have had to postpone, and start discussing best-case and worst-case scenarios. Put everything on the table so you can make internal plans to accommodate the changes.
Then, get with your team to explore solutions—perhaps you need to hire temp workers to get through the backlog of events or maybe the added revenue can translate to overtime for staff. The more outcomes and situations you can map out, the more agile and adaptable you’ll be while facing the months ahead.
Set realistic goals
Take a moment to revisit your goals for 2020 and consider where you are in terms of achieving each one. Don’t feel discouraged or place any negativity over anything you didn’t accomplish; instead, give yourself grace and evaluate your progress objectively. This year has been difficult for everyone, so there’s no reason to carry any blame and guilt into 2021. Now, it’s time to look forward and start making new, realistic goals.
Much like the plans you discuss with your team, map out a few alternatives to your goals to account for best-case and worst-case scenarios. If everything goes perfectly, what is the stretch goal you would love to achieve in 2021? If the pandemic continues to have an effect late into the year, what is the bare minimum that would keep you satisfied? Having these options will help you navigate the uncertainties and keep you motivated to keep reaching, while also acknowledging the reality of the circumstances and how they might impact your business.
For all of your goals, make sure to attach a quantitative value to it so you can measure your progress throughout the year. Perhaps you want to earn two new testimonials each month or maybe, in light of COVID, you’re inclined to decrease your cost of goods by 15%. When you get specific with your goals, it’ll make it easier to check in regularly and create milestones along the way to success.
Nurture your network
The holidays are the perfect time to revisit your network and connect with creative partners you may have lost touch with (and, of course, those in your inner circle!). COVID-19 has impacted everyone on a global scale, so it’s helpful to have peers that you can bounce ideas off, commiserate losses, and celebrate the good times.
Since the industry at-large will be picking up around the same time, it may be a fruitful time to start discussing creative partnerships that can mutually benefit everyone involved. Perhaps you plan for a holiday-themed style shoot to fill in the content gap left by the pandemic. Maybe you’re thinking about launching a campaign to raise funds for those badly impacted by the economic downturn.
We are an industry full of movers and shakers, so use this downtime before returning full swing to grow your relationships and make a real difference in your community.
While there is no guaranteed “post-pandemic” timeline to hitch your horses, the best thing you can do in this waiting period is to safeguard your business and ensure that you’re prepared for the peaks and valleys of what may lie ahead.