The words to describe 2020 are overused. There can’t be many of us that won’t be pleased to see the back of it.
Amongst all the terrible news, there were always parts to conversations during this year that provided a glimmer of something better. Like weak watery sunshine breaking through on a winter’s day, it showed that even the smallest of businesses can have a positive impact on someone.
As we reach the calendar end of the year, even if the first quarter might feel like more of the same, these are the positives I took out of the conversations with business owners and marketing teams during this year.
Community means more
For many of us, there was a moment of inertia when the first lockdown was announced. A kind of “what now?” moment. Some businesses were very slow to react; generally the bigger they were, the slower the action. The quick, nimble and flexible were off, doing what they could for their community.
It meant different things to different businesses. It might have meant the town they were based in. Perhaps it was about supporting their suppliers. It could have been their customers and fans, even just with a check in to say “we’re here”.
Whatever community meant, communicating with them became more important than ever.
The internet was a lifeline
There were a few businesses in February 2020 that (still) didn’t have a website. There were a few that didn’t have e-commerce capabilities.
I imagine those numbers are considerably lower as we exit the year.
This was the year to stop waiting for things to be perfect and to get on and do it. Next year might be the year to go back and tweak it, make it work harder, make it work better for people. The important thing this year was to do something good enough.
That might end up being the basis of one of the big positives for their business in the future.
There is no perfect time
Imagine you’ve been working on your idea for quite some time, getting everything ready to go. And then a pandemic hits.
What do you do?
It seems for many the answer was just get on and do it. I have three clients who launched anyway this year. They might not have had everything how they thought it would be on launch day, but sometimes it’s better to get something away than nothing.
In the case of Melted Inside, it gave artisan food and drink producers another route to market. It gave consumers access to different products that they weren’t able to discover in the physical sense. It might not have had every function Candy had planned for, but it was more than a minimal viable product, so worth launching as it was.
Sometimes it’s better to do something than nothing.
We don’t know until we try
Pivot is one of those overused words this year, but so many businesses have done exactly that. A bit like there not being a perfect time, there may not be a perfect pivot, but this year gave businesses licence to give different things a try. There are delivery services and food trucks that only figured in idle daydreams this time last year that are now viable parts to a business.
For some, they may be the only part of the business going forward.
Investing in our own property
If community mattered to businesses this year, then always being able to make contact with them is key. There continues to be quite a lot of big tech noise this year, and changes in algorithms continue to make posts in different channels a bit hit and miss in terms of how many people get to see them.
People seemed to like the thought of “control” this year. When so many things are out of your control, having that little patch, whether it’s your website or email list, that belongs just to you seemed to grow in appeal. I spent a lot of time talking about newsletters and emails this year, much more so than in 2019.
Sharing truly is caring
Some say I’m ridiculously optimistic in my approach to life, always looking for the rainbows. It was challenging at different points in this year to do that. But there was always some good somewhere. One of the bright spots for me was businesses supporting each other.
It could be it was about collaborations, or just literally sharing each others content to bring things to a wider audience. There was resource sharing, and sharing of contacts to help make things happen. Of course, there was all the crappy behaviour, the lack of respect for personal space and safety, the hoarding of bog rolls. But there was also more generosity than ever. I hope we hang onto that.
Most of us won’t be seeing out this year in the way we might want to, or with the people we would want to be with. And some of us might be having just the kind of night we always craved (hello to the introverts). Whatever you’re doing, I hope you can find your positives out of the craziness of 2020, and here’s to better days ahead in 2021.