2020 in Retrospect: A Year of Valuable Lessons for SMEs

December 30, 2020 | Joyce Ibrahim


2020 needs no introduction—brimming with unprecedented events, market disruption, and economic shifts, this extraordinary year presented countless challenges and opportunities to businesses all over the world.

In December 2019, Coronavirus was still a foreign concept slowly creeping up in news headlines. Now here we are in December 2020, with COVID-19 having become an integral part of how we behave in life and in business. And life for small business owners has dramatically transformed over the last year. While businesses may have set specific goals early in 2020, there’s no doubt that the pandemic the pandemic has forced many to change course, adapt, and assume a new way of doing things.

If 2020 was a year of challenges to overcome and transformations to embrace, 2021 may be a year of continued growth for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Here are some of the most important transitions that emerged in 2020, and which will likely continue to guide companies through 2021.


Flexibility & Adaptability Are Key

For almost every business owner around the globe, the most vital business feature that was highlighted by COVID-19 was adaptability. When the pandemic swept in, bringing along with it difficult and crucial change, businesses had to pivot, adjust their strategies and goals, and prepare ahead for what’s to come.

From developing new products, to offering safer and more innovative delivery and payments methods, companies worldwide had to get creative and reinvent their offering to keep up with the new normal.

Although there is no way to really gauge how the pandemic will continue to affect business in 2021, 2020 shook small businesses at their core and reminded business owners of the importance of keeping an open mind in their strategy with both customers and employees. Be it embracing remote work to accommodate staff and their concerns, or shifting your offering to better align with clients’ needs, embracing agility as a mindset will allow your business to find innovative solutions to 2021’s potential challenges.


There’s No Growth Without Digital Transformation

COVID-19 has moved most marketplaces and business operations into the digital world. And with a growing tech dependency to undertake daily task, there’s no way around digital transformation.

According to a study conducted by IDG, 89% of organizations have already adopted a digital-first strategy or have made plans to implement one, which means that companies that fail to embrace digital transformation will likely fall through the cracks of competition.  2020 was first and foremost a year of accelerating digital transformation. From digitized work processes, communications, to sales and marketing, businesses understood the importance of digital as a tool to simplify operations, but also a vehicle to meet customers where they are.

In 2021, and with the pandemic still going strong across the globe, digital transformation will maintain its momentum, and more and more businesses will adopt it as a cornerstone of their upcoming strategies.


One Step Ahead of Customers’ Shifting Needs & Behaviors

Digital transformation also allowed businesses to accommodate customers’ needs through data insight. In 2020, there was a heightened focus on customer experience and satisfaction. According to a survey conducted by Salesforce,  73% of consumers expect businesses to understand their needs and expectations, making customer-centric approaches vital for companies’ growth.

2020 reshaped consumer behavior and preferences, and gave customers’ needs and concerns increased importance in the way a business operates. This past year underlined the importance of wellness, empathy, and understanding when addressing consumer needs, as companies rushed to refine their customer experiences to bring their clientele more personalized services, to drawing up innovative solutions and methods to answer their current and future needs in light of the pandemic.

In 2021, successful businesses will be the ones that truly connect with their customers, be it in their concerns for sustainability, SDGs, wellness, or ease and convenience.

While many of us want nothing more than to bid this turbulent year farewell, it has nevertheless accelerated much needed change in the way we work and in the way businesses perceive themselves, their products, and their customers.


Get in touch with Brakket Consult, and let us help you with a strategy that will only help you grow in 2021 and beyond.