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Top 9 Brutal Lessons Learned From 2020

2020 was a brutal year but as business owners and as entrepreneurs there have been valuable lessons learned that you can take into 2021 to improve your business and to scale your brand. 

I like to learn from the hard challenges in life and find the upside in them and leverage them for progress, success, happiness, fulfilment and money.

So I’m going to share  9 brutal lessons learned from 2020 that could perhaps give you one of your best years yet to come in 2021.

So I’m going to cover expectation vs. Reality, the unexpected upside of a very difficult year and the ongoing discussions about having no plan B. Number four will be dealing with fear on a global scale, maybe you’ve not experienced that before, number five will be agility and number six will be launching scalable products. Then number 7 will be low overhead models followed by number eight, managing loneliness and emotion and number 9 will be what goals you set and how you set them for 2021.

1. Expectation vs Reality in 2020. 
Alright then, number one Expectation vs Reality in 2020. 

So, in reality, no one could have the predicted 2020 COVID-19 lockdown and I spoke to hundreds of entrepreneurs this year, many of which were struggling with the changes to their business as a result of the lockdown and that they had to adapt their business model quickly and many will have lost revenue, lost enthusiasm and have been left feeling extra fearful for the future but what they didn’t do was adjust their expectation.

Many entrepreneurs were left saying ‘2020 should have been’ and ‘I should have made’ or ‘I should have done’ but these are all words of delusion because they’re only is what is there, not what one dreamed or wished there was in 2020.

The lesson is that entrepreneurs must emotionally mentally and of course commercially adjust the expectations in your mind. Scrap the old 2020 plan to make a plan B, make a plan C, make a plan D and pivot the business model or face the fact that you’re going to lose revenue here, but can you gain revenue in another area of your business?

And the quicker you do that, the quicker you let go of an old fantasy expectation and embrace the new reality of the situation. The quicker you pivot, the more agile you are and the more successful you will become.

In business, the best way to be agile and always to evolve is to expect the unexpected and plan for what you cannot plan for. This is how you will stay ahead of the curve and keep your business going and end up thriving and not just surviving.

2. The Unexpected Upside of a Very Difficult Year 
Okay, so the second brutal lesson of 2020 and beyond is that whilst there was a mass downside and disruption to the year, the harm to our products and services, our inability to get out and about and the strain that the lockdown has put on our mental health and emotion, the reality is everything has an equal upside.

Now to list some, it could be going for long walks, spending time with your family, doing more planning, evolving your business model or realising that you now have lower overheads and higher margins.

By thinking more laterally and by having emotional and situational awareness you will be able to see the world from a ‘glass-half-full’ type of view and essentially when making a decision be able to debate a situation from both sides.

Ask yourself, What’s good about it? what’s bad about it? And plan for both the upsides and the downsides. Most entrepreneurs only want the goals, the vision and the results, they don’t want the challenges and the difficulties that will come their way as a result, but in reality, you have both so make a note of all the upsides to 2020 and how it’s made your business more agile, more adaptable or maybe it’s forced you to start that part-time side hustle or get rid of lots of costs. 

My business definitely leaned up during the pandemic, our companies revenue initially went down by nearly 50% but our profit margin is increased by 250-300% because we were forced to adapt and change.

3. Having No Plan B
Okay moving on to point three of nine brutal lessons from 2020 is always having a plan B. Often people tell you not to have a backup plan as it can distract you from going all-in on plan A, but what’s wrong with drafting out a plan B in case your business model gets disrupted? what’s wrong with having a plan C case plan B doesn’t work? 

Now, when the lockdown was announced, I was getting up at 3 AM in the morning and working through till 9 PM at night for a good few weeks and I created not just a plan B, but a plan C, D, E, F and G.

The trick is to think of your business as if a competitor of yours is trying to disrupt you, trying to out-hustle you, and trying to be better than you.

What would you do to you? Well, instead of waiting for someone else to find the weaknesses in your business, find them yourself and make a plan for if this happens or if that happens and by doing this you will stay ahead of the competition and always be prepared for when something changes that could affect your business. 

4. Dealing With Fear on a Global Scale 
Most of us have never felt fear on a mass scale like we did during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic but as entrepreneurs and as business owners, we must not let the fear of the pandemic seep into our business so that we end up making irrational decisions. 

You must be very careful of who you follow and the media that you watch, I’m not saying that you should always be high-five positive but that you should always aim to remain balanced and level-headed. Say YES to information but only deal in facts, as soon as a conversation turns into a debate, a bitch or a moan try to remove yourself and remain positive by following the people who are creating solutions and who have figured out how to use COVID-19 as an opportunity.

5. Agility
Alright, lesson number five of nine brutal lessons learned from 2020 is agility.

As a business, you need to be agile. If you’re not, you’re the opposite of lean, you’re bloated, slow, thick and lazy and probably have loads of fixed costs and really low-profit margins.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that you need to be able to think, decide, and act fast. You need to always be in testing mode and always be testing testing testing.

By staying agile and by testing you are able to change and adapt your business really quickly and then you can scale what works and scale back what isn’t working. 

As entrepreneurs we don’t need to spend months planning and trying to be perfect, we need to be agile and to ‘start now and get perfect later

6. Having a Scalable Product in 2021
In 2021 is having a scalable product is essential. Clearly, the most scalable product is something that you can leverage online because it can go from local to national too intercontinental and too global very, very quickly. 

So, ask yourself is your product or service scalable?

If you have an informational product, you’re on e-commerce or you connect human beings online socially then your product leverages the internet and is immediately globally scalable.

Remember, if your product or service is scalable then it is sustainable. 

7. Low Overhead Models
Okay, so as a result of lessons five and six you should realise that now you have a product that has low overheads and a higher margin. 

The more lean your business is and the more dynamic your product is the easier it will be to keep your fixed costs to an absolute minimum. When Mark and I started Progressive Property we didn’t go and get a lot of computers on a lease. we didn’t go and raise a load of cash, we didn’t get a load of loans, we just funded it through cash flow.

And when as a business we sold a couple of properties we would then reinvest that cash back into the business and back into marketing so that we could generate more leads. The aim was not to put too much stress on our overheads, keeping the long-term fixed costs low and allowing our product to scale.

8. Managing Loneliness and Emotion
Feeling lonely is nothing to do with how many people are in the room, it’s all to do with how you feel but you must not go into that place of being a victim, you must not take full, final and personal responsibility for the things that happen. 

As entrepreneurs, we’re quite misunderstood, there’s always people criticising and picking at us and we’re taking risks that other people aren’t. So, therefore, you’ve got to get around more people who understand the emotion of being an entrepreneur.

You know, I’m a big fan of managing your mental health and your emotions as well as your financial health and wealth, I think that they’re very related and now I’ve been doing this a long enough I’ve found that as an entrepreneur it’s pretty much a full cycle. You can’t go for 15 or 30 years without managing your mental health and your emotions because you’ll just burn yourself. 

And as for managing loneliness, globally human needs have not changed, regardless of the pandemic. We want connections, we want recognition and we want to feel important.

We want to feel loved and connected and together and understood, these have not changed. In fact, these have grown greater through the lockdown. So that is your upside opportunity.

9. Goals You Set and How You Set Them For 2021.
I think that as an entrepreneur you should set a minimum of 100 goals on everything from who you want to be to how you want to be known and from your business and personal metrics to the places that you want to see and people that you want to meet. 

And if you can achieve even 50 of your goals you will have been successful. But it’s important to remember that when you plan your goals you must also plan the for the challenges that will come along with them.


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