2020 was probably the most tumultuous year of our lifetime. We saw unprecedented changes and challenges throughout the world. Globally, our families, jobs, and futures were all put on hold or changed dramatically. For a while, it felt like we were stuck in a rut, waiting for this all to end and get back to business as usual. But there came a turning point where the time to wait was over, and the time to create began. What we once viewed as a great pause, a hurdle to overcome, was also full of opportunities.
This year changed us, and the world, profoundly. But we also were given the chance to grow, innovate, and evolve in ways we couldn’t have imagined prior to 2020. So here are the 5 biggest lessons we learned from this whirlwind year as we greet 2021.
Adapt or perish
This was the first, hardest, and most important lesson of the year. Business models that held strong for decades, established companies with deep pockets, and small owners alike were impacted by 2020. Unprecedented economic downturn caused many businesses to shutter. It became evident, quickly, that adaptation is paramount to survival.
Companies had to be able to adapt or risk losing it all. In order to stay in business, countless industries made changes, and fast. We saw a big shift to more operations being done virtually. We saw businesses forced to implement new protocols overnight—setting up remote teams, implementing new digital tools, and adapting their processes across the board. And we saw essential businesses upended their operations to ensure the safety of their staff and customers, while tensions were high. Even as an agency that deals in the digital realm, we needed to make necessary changes in order to thrive.
We take this lesson of adaptability into the future, beyond COVID. When we take note of our rapidly changing world and are flexible enough to adapt right along with it, we can stay on top of our game. Embracing these changes as opportunities is the key to success.
There are no guarantees, so give it your all
In the spirit of embracing opportunities, we also learned to take risks. There’s no way to adapt to a pandemic without incurring a bit of risk. In business, risk is the one thing you usually avoid at all costs since it can mean lost profits, lost jobs, or lost customers. It is scary to put out the resources to create something that might not succeed. Among the uncertainty of 2020, taking a big leap felt particularly scary.
But here’s the deal—big leaps are always risky, pandemic or not. Life and business don’t ever offer guarantees. As the saying goes, the only things you can count on are death and taxes. So if there are no guarantees—positive or negative—then the best thing to do is go forward at full steam, and give every project and opportunity your all.
This year, we gave our all to projects and embraced that uncertainty. We started a webinar centered around surviving and thriving, and met with business leaders and influencers taking this crisis head on and seeking out opportunities. We were familiar with the format as we have produced webinars for several clients. But in the midst of the pandemic, we looked to connect with new people, and highlight the ways business leaders were adapting and succeeding.
We felt the need, saw an opportunity, and tried something we had never done before as an agency. And from our guests and the overall experience we confirmed the age-old adage: no risk, no reward. So, we’re going to keep pushing it in 2021.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
In order to combat 2020, we learned that along with taking risks, the more diverse our skills and our offerings, the better suited we are to face anything that comes our way.
In the most practical sense, keeping your eggs in a few different baskets can help you navigate the storm. Under this year’s unique pressures, many companies diversified their offerings, developing new products or new experiences—many of which were virtual, and likely here to stay. And beyond just products, the way that brands promoted themselves or their offerings changed, and now we see Mom and Pops shops having their own e-commerce platforms or advertising on social media.
This was a crucial lesson in circumventing crises, but taught us a lot more about growth beyond just this year. This taught us all that there’s no one way to do anything, and no one “basket.” Branching out within your current industry or into a new one, diversifying what you offer, and even changing the way you produce can only serve to benefit you.
This was a key lesson for us too. Prior to 2020, a large majority of our work revolved around the travel industry, which notably took a big hit this year—threatening our very existence. Diversifying our clientele was the key to overcoming it. We also learned to branch out beyond just video solutions, strengthening our digital marketing portfolio exponentially. Everything we do is now centered around our business’ sustainability, not only to adapt to this demanding year, but to better serve our clients.
Connection is vital
In a time of forced isolation, we learned to never take connection for granted. Connection with our employees, our clients, and our audiences became more crucial than ever.
We’ve always been an agency that values communication and collaboration, and with part of our team in Colombia, we’re familiar with staying connected virtually. But once the option for in-person communication was off the table, our daily virtual huddles became a touchstone for teamwork and staff check-ins.
Maintaining our existing relations with our team and our clients virtually has been essential to the innovations we were able to achieve this year. But on top of that, being able to leverage communication tools and changing our perspectives around remote work to make new connections has been vital for our business growth.
Don’t be afraid to rethink everything
Finally, we learned that in times of crisis and upheaval, the biggest evolutions can emerge. But you have to be willing to embrace it, even if it means rethinking everything.
At the onset of an idea or even a brand, the model you start with doesn’t bind you for life. If the moment arrives, and the time to innovate is here, seize that opportunity. An artist who relied on in-person painting classes can start selling virtual lessons—even including shipping the art supplies—and keep the model going forward. A medium-size business can forgo rent, keep a remote work environment, and invest in other resources to keep the company going. A small retailer that never touched a social media app can set up a digital store that eclipses their in-person sales. Rethinking can be scary and can mean a lot of things in different industries, but all it takes is having the strategic mindset to achieve the goal.
We learned, more than anything, that keeping those future evolutions top-of-mind can only help us as we grow. Rethinking, to us, meant not just putting a band-aid on 2020, but thinking about real, concrete changes that would not only prepare us for challenges, but make us a strong, more sustainable business. We rethought our brand, the way we present ourselves, and our strategic mindset. We rethought our goals, the work we do, and how we can continue to diversify and expand what we offer. We rethought our priorities, and began focusing on helping our clients and our agency to reach long-term growth. Heck, we even rethought our name, and what it means to combine the elements of design, digital, and video to represent who we are.
Reflecting on these lessons allowed us to appreciate how much we have grown and strengthened during a time of global challenges. It also powered us into the next year, with the motivation to keep adapting, giving it our all, diversifying, connecting, and rethinking.
From our team to yours, happy new year!