January 8, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The beginning of a new year brings an important opportunity for both personal and professional growth. It is a time to reflect on successes, failures and what you want to bring with you as you move forward. In 2020, a year with seemingly endless challenges and uncertainties, companies adapted and innovated to survive the “new normal” of conducting business during a worldwide economic crisis.
The changes we’ve experienced will not revert to our previous “normal” overnight. Some of those changes — such as remote work — will likely become a permanent part of our professional lives. Still, 2021 is a perfect opportunity to recharge, rethink and restart with the lessons from the previous year in mind.
You might want to ask yourself which aspects of the “new normal” show promise for your company’s future and which you’d rather leave behind. How can the experience of 2020 create momentum for 2021? Here are three more questions you can ask yourself to make sure you’re on track to let the difficulties you faced this year empower you, rather than derail you.
1. Are you going to hire more people?
Many companies big and small had to face the unfortunate reality of furloughs, firings and mass layoffs this year. Unemployment rose drastically and fell back down somewhat in a roller coaster ride over the course of the year. There are still many talented people looking for work.
If you’re planning on hiring and it is financially feasible to do so, it may be wise to roadmap your hiring right away and begin to bring people on as early as possible in 2021. This is a good time to acquire top talent among recent graduates and recent layoffs alike. As vaccines are distributed and restrictions are lifted in the coming months, the economy will likely improve and traditional recruitment will resume, so don’t wait if you don’t have to.
2. How supported do your current employees feel?
Heading into the end of the year is a good chance to reflect on the people who work for you — not only how they’re performing, but also how they feel at work. With traditional office parties off limits, it is more important (and more challenging) than ever to find other ways to create a feel-good environment for your employees, both as a group and as individuals.
Bonuses, handwritten notes and even verbal praise can go a long way to boost morale and make everybody feel appreciated. That in turn increases their motivation to do their best work for you in the new year. The holidays were particularly rough last year because they’re usually a time for togetherness and gathering. Many people spent the entire time alone.
Going forward, make sure your employees know they are an important part of your company community and support any additional needs they might experience, to whatever extent you can.
3. How will 2021 impact your business differently than 2020?
Although there is still significant uncertainty around the year ahead, 2020 taught entrepreneurs important lessons about adaptability and preparation. I’ve written in recent months about how many small and medium sized businesses were suddenly forced to undergo faster digital transformation without much warning.
Whether the ongoing crisis continues in full force in 2021 or wanes quickly, planning for a breadth of scenarios is crucial. Take the time now to think about how your business could be impacted in the months ahead so you can prepare. How did you react in 2020 and how can you react in 2021? Consider creating two business plans for the upcoming year: one for post-crisis conditions and another for a continuation of restrictions and changes.
Adaptability is everything
No industry is immune to this type of planning, regardless of whether this year has adversely impacted your business or helped it grow. Zoom transformed overnight into a mission-critical app for both the workplace and the household, while businesses that require gathering indoors (brick-and-mortar retail shops, for instance) have encountered hurdles that are seemingly unconquerable without a widely distributed vaccine.
At both of these extremes, and everywhere in between, accounting for multiple scenarios is essential for continued success. Cruise lines are figuring out how to operate safely during the crisis, and companies that have grown as a result of the the crisis are finding ways to remain both profitable and relevant when it subsides. No matter what type of business you run, your adaptability quotient correlates with success now more than ever.
When asked and answered together, all of these questions will provide a strong foundation for you to begin the new year with confidence in yourself, your business and your team. During crises, interrogating uncertainties and making sure you have a strong team doing it right along with you will let you attack 2021 with full force from all sides.