I don’t know about you, but 2020 did not turn out the way I had expected. If you’re like most of us, we spent the end of last year trying to figure out what 2020 was going to look like. And then boom, everything changed. As a matter of fact, I started the year out in the hospital and I almost died. If you want to hear more about that, go back to Episode 544 of the Bacon Podcast or my earlier blog post. But as with most things in life, that was just one episode in a tumultuous year. There are many episodes in everybody’s life that we didn’t expect. But also many business and life lessons to be learned.
What Did You Learn From 2020?
Today I’d like to talk about three core business and life lessons that I believe everybody should have learned from this year that can help us better understand what’s going to happen next. First and foremost, no matter how hard you planned, no matter what you thought it was going to be like, it was different. I think that’s true of every year, but this year was accentuated. We had a pandemic and we had a presidential election. There were a lot of things that got into this melting pot of 2020 that really upended our lives. But maybe more of a focus for us, it upended our business. So what can we learn from that today?
Right Place, Right Time?
Well, I think one key thing to ask yourself is, was your business acting as the right business at the right time? Every business has that basic problem to solve in normal times. But, were you solving the right problem for the right people at the right time? That’s what this year coming up is about. When you take a recent inventory of your business, think about your perfect clients over the last 10 months. What were their issues? What kept them up at night? And, what part or portion of your business helped them to solidify their own business?
It could have been something they adapted to in their world. Who would have guessed that we would have had companies getting into the mask-making business and that specialty companies who were producing pens are now producing masks with your brand on it, or funny masks with dog faces, monkey faces, and more. Nobody would have predicted that last year, but yet people found a niche and embraced and profited off it.
Some people actually took advantage of people and the shortages of supplies. There was the guy who bought up 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, hoarded it and tried to sell it at very inflated prices. There are other people that built a legitimate business or expanded their business based on problems where they had real solutions. I can almost guarantee you that moving into 2021, it’s going to be more of the same if not a bit worse.
Do we have a new president? Maybe? Do we have a COVID vaccine? Maybe? Now that it’s winter, we know that more people are going to be stuck indoors Restaurants are closed. Businesses are still working remotely.
What business and life lessons did you learn that can help you adapt to what’s going to happen next year? And how can you take what you do and help solve new problems that will not only get you through the first quarter or the first half, or maybe even the next three to five years?
The second most important lesson is around relationships. This past year whether you follow politics or not, it showed how divided our country is.
I remember back in one of my networking meetings, somebody said to me, “I refuse to work with anybody who does not believe in my religion.” Now I understood where they were coming from, but was that really foundationally smart? Yeah, they had a decent supply of potential customers, but they were really limiting themselves.
I saw business relationships dissolve like paper in acid when some people posted opinions on social media. People were beating them up because of their beliefs.
You really have to ask yourself, “Would you not do business with somebody because they have a different belief than you?” Does that make them a lesser person? In your eyes, it might. In their eyes, they may not want to do business with you. We all have to step back and get our arms around that. Does somebody’s point of view actually affect the way that they do business?
If it’s an ethical thing where you’re going to get taken advantage of, that’s one thing. But what if it’s simply a philosophical thing, meaning they have a different belief in a potentially toxic topic, or they tend to think differently than you do. Does that mean that they can’t fulfill what you need or that you have to boycott them? I think we really have to look at the core of what are we purchasing? Are we purchasing that person’s beliefs or are we purchasing their skill set, products, or services?
Don’t let people’s frame of mind change the way that you do business. What should matter most is how it will affect the way you do business for your customers. That’s the key. Are you solving the customer problems that I talked about in the first section?
Me, Myself, & I
The final lesson I think we have to learn concerns us. What did we learn about our strengths? What did we learn about our weaknesses? How did you manage your time? How did you deal with adversity? What were we really good at?
One of the things I think is uber-important is surrounding yourself with people who support you. Not just by joining groups where people have the same beliefs as you, or not people just in your industry. You need to surround yourself with as many smart people from as many different types of businesses as possible to give yourself the best opportunity to learn from that collective mindset. It’s called the mastermind for a reason. The collective brain of everybody in that room or on that Zoom call is worth 10 times more than hanging out in your own echo chamber.
It’s important that we actively search out people who we know, like, and trust (trust is the key thing here) who we are able to share our fears, our strengths, and our weaknesses with. They should not just confirm what we think, but be willing to challenge what and how we think.
Can you find a group of people that you believe in so much that you’re willing to fully and honestly open up to, and who are willing to listen and let you open to them? The main goal should be to help them while helping yourself and your business! That, my friends, is a win-win.
Now is the time to take inventory. What did you learn? Who did you learn from? Who made you feel bad? And, who made you feel good? Get yourself in a position for your next chapter of change.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas or questions about the business and life lessons you’re taking away from 2020. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?
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