I just returned from my first business trip since our world was shattered by the pandemic. It was, in many ways, just another business trip. But in other ways, it was so much more.
I was meeting with a small group of international leaders. The goal: to inspire these leaders to break barriers. The pandemic has created so many new barriers.
We began our time together with a simple icebreaker, sharing our highs and lows for the year. It was humbling to hear, even in this small group, the people whose lives and families have been touched and forever changed by this disease. It became apparent as we went around the socially distanced room to share our highs and lows that the theme for 2020 was survive.
And yet, here we are. Conquerors. Because there will always be challenges, there will always be new difficulties. We have survived them before. They pass. This, too, shall pass. We are committed to breaking through any barriers to conquer fear and thrive.
Together, we outlined how they will return to business, in many ways the same but in so many ways altogether different. We spent a full day planning and asking ourselves these questions:
“What will we do differently this year? We are smarter this year and we can begin with a plan that supports our current economies and restrictions. By taking some time to reflect on this, we can build a thoughtful, intentional plan that takes all we have learned in this past year and enables us to break through the barriers. For my client, we came up with five innovative strategies that will drive new revenue.
“What will we stop doing this year?” It’s a new world. Many of the things we did last year and even prior years are no longer effective. For this company, as it went into lockdown, it began to provide many webinars. The company’s clients buy from it for its technical expertise — and it was giving it away for free. The company’s leaders decided they were no longer going to give away the company’s knowledge for free. We tweaked a few things in their plan that will allow them to drive more revenue, and still offer impeccable knowledge and service to the company’s clients. This game-changer will enable them to be productive, not just busy.
“What will we keep doing?” We didn’t get where we are by not doing right things; these are often the reason that customers buy from us, and certainly the reason they stay with us. Let’s make sure we are clear about what we want to keep doing this year.
It was wonderful to see the leaders, beaten down by all the challenges they have willingly tackled this year, begin to be inspired. As we planned for our future with realistic actions, it was as if you could physically see their spirits lifting. With each new strategy, each conversation, they could see their future and it wasn’t just surviving — they could now see the road ahead to thriving.
How about you? Are you doing things the same way you ended 2020? Ask these questions of your own business. It’s a great team exercise. At the very least, I recommend that you, as the leader, spend some time contemplating what you have learned and the current state of your business. Then apply these questions. You will be amazed at the fruit that a few hours of reflection and intentional thought yield. Build a plan to thrive in 2021.
With a clear, focused plan in place, these leaders were once again encouraged. As it inspired them, so, too, was I inspired. Our world will never look quite the same, the things we do won’t be exactly the same, but there is sunshine on the horizon.
Wishing you all an abundant 2021!
NAWBO Phoenix President
Before launching her own business, Jean Briese spent 25 years creating and leading award-winning teams for a Fortune 10 technology firm. She is the president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Phoenix and a 2020 recipient of PBJ’s “Outstanding Women in Business.” During the pandemic, Briese was awarded a Bronze Stevie Award as “Solo Entrepreneur of the Year.” Briese speaks to worldwide audiences on how to unleash the power of your team and achieve breakthrough results.