Three Things I Have Learned in 2020

The challenges we’ve faced throughout 2020, both personally and in business, are unprecedented. We’ve all invariably met struggles but have found opportunities as well. I’d like to share three things I’ve learned during this crazy year that relate to business, but that also speak volumes about the human spirit.

These insights arose primarily from the Peer Advisory Board (PAB) on Exit Planning I facilitate, in which owners of closely held businesses share their experiences and challenges related to operating their company and maintaining its value, all with an eye on the prize – their eventual planned exit. We’ve continued these meetings throughout the pandemic, switching for most of the year to meeting remotely rather than in person.

Lesson #1: Peers can be a lifeline.

The Exit Planning Peer Advisory Board (PAB) provides a safe place for business owners to discuss their challenges and offer support and insights to their fellow members. A look back at this year’s meetings reveals another layer of the group’s value. The events of this year have put businesses and their leaders to the test – more than any event in recent history, and all business owners faced their own challenges. PAB members found that their peers dug deep to find and offer business solutions as well as personal and moral support, rather than withdrawing to focus on their own problems. Board members have together found creative solutions for challenges of all kinds. To learn more about solutions they found and how our PAB members benefited from each other’s support during the crisis, read our blog, Peers – A Lifeline Through the Pandemic.

Lesson #2: Business owners embraced innovation and found ways to pivot.

An election like no other in history, a volatile economy, a global pandemic – sometimes it is hard to comprehend all that we have experienced this year. Change is inevitable in any environment, but 2020 has mandated that we remain poised for change, requiring many businesses to pivot over and over. In a business climate for which we’d had no practice, it would have been easy to give up out of frustration and hopelessness, especially for businesses that were hit especially hard. Yet I’ve been amazed at the entrepreneurial spirit I’ve seen in our world during these challenging times, especially within our Peer Advisory Board. Innovative business owners have continually adjusted and reinvented their companies to remain relevant to their customers and prospects. Being ready for change became a necessity. Even as some situations start to resolve, the need to be ready for potentially rapid change is not going away overnight. Read my blog, Three Ways to Position Yourself for Change, and consider how you can be prepared.

Lesson #3: Resilience can transform strife into empowerment.

Lack of predictability characterized the year with circumstances sometimes changing on a daily basis. We were forced to respond quickly, sometimes resorting to what we had to do, rather than what we’d typically choose to do to keep our businesses open and operating. It often seemed that we didn’t have much choice. But over and over, members of our PAB have shared how changes they made of necessity have led them to improvements in the way they will do business going forward, how they connect with customers, valuable services they can continue to offer, and insights they wouldn’t have had without the challenges they’ve faced this year. The ability to be resilient and adapt is one of those characteristics that makes us stronger and more confident after we’ve faced a crisis and is invaluable when it comes to keeping your business relevant. My blog, What Does Emergence Look Like for Your Business? was written in July when much of the nation thought emergence from the pandemic was imminent. But now that we truly do seem to be on the threshold of COVID recovery, you’ll likely find some ideas and insights from our PAB members that will be of value to your business.

Our Exit Planning Peer Advisory Board has grown this year – a testament to its relevance and the value that is found in the support and insight of peers, not only for planning and carrying out their exit strategy, but making their business better now, and having access to a ready lifeline when faced with tough times. I’m honored to be associated with its members who are not only exceptional business leaders but incredible human beings.

I invite you to start the new year by being a guest at our next Peer Advisory Board meeting – January 20, 2021 – and see for yourself how much it can benefit the way you do business and enrich your life. Contact me for details or for a complimentary discussion of your individual situation.

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