Let's flush 2020 and move forward!

Goodbye, 2020! Ready for what’s next…


Whether we’re managing a business, starting a career or just trying to keep life in order, years like 2020 don’t do much to convince us that things are going to keep running smoothly. Many of us are just ready to move past the year 2020 and get on with what’s next. It feels like the year has been one frustrating lump of setbacks that are still somewhat undefined and unknown. We want to give the year 2020 a big flush! Let’s take a look back at the year and then a look forward to find what’s in store for 2021 and beyond.


Looking back on 2020


2020 brought a mix of all kinds of lessons for businesses and individuals alike. Even with several weeks to go before we’re done and we can fully put it behind us, there are still many lessons that can be learned from the craziness of the year. There have been many lessons over the course of the year, but here are three of the most relevant lessons from observations we’ve made.


  1. Businesses must actively seek out customers

  2. Innovation and education are critical to success

  3. Customers are still looking for great products and services


While this list is far from a comprehensive view of everything to be gleaned from 2020, it’s a great starting point for some thought and conversation about the year and what moving forward looks like.


Businesses need to seek out customers


If you’re like most businesses, customers don’t just come to you – you need to go out and find them. While this may seem like an obvious observation, many businesses may have taken for granted the momentum of a great economy and the high readiness and willingness of customers to buy. When it feels like customers just come to you with little or no marketing effort, it is easy to get lulled into thinking things will always be that way. Well… nope! 2020 has certainly been a wakeup call to many businesses and they’ve remembered that customers’ trust and money must be earned.


The year has also highlighted the reality that standing still is likely to put you behind. Holding the pause button for too long can have dramatic and undesirable effects on your business. You’ve heard the analogy that life (and business) is like walking up the down escalator. If you stop even for a few moments, you quickly realize you can drift back to where you started. In our fast-paced economy, combined with shutdowns and uncertainty, standing still has never been more dangerous. And even though our businesses may have powered down for a while – our minds don’t have to. Instead of fretting over the difficulties, we can dust off our thinking caps and get to work solving problems and leading with our minds and coming up with creative solutions.


Innovation in business is alive and well


Despite the global pandemic and uncertainty in so many parts of life, innovation is alive and well and people are coming up with new ways of doing things. With such a rough year, many would assume that the rapid pace of startups and innovation would have come to a grinding halt. But quite the opposite has happened. Faced with difficult challenges, brilliant minds have come up with new solutions that help us adapt to the challenges in front of us. Communication channels have changed through video conferencing technology. Restaurants have adapted to keep customers fed and happy. Individuals and businesses have found new ways to work from home effectively. Businesses of all kinds have started offering better solutions to get products to their customers quickly and more efficiently. The healthiest businesses are the ones that adapt to their customers’ preferences in addition to situational factors outside of their control – ignoring either isn’t the right recipe.


And as the increasing pace of innovation and adaptation continues, if we don’t know how to do something, we buckle up and learn it. Our modern age is the age of learning. We can’t be content sitting around and waiting for the world to slow down for us so we can catch up. With so many ways to learn and experiment, there’s no excuse NOT to learn how to do new things that can keep businesses moving forward. “I don’t know how to do that” is no longer a viable excuse when we’re trying to move our businesses forward. With many skills and areas of knowledge, we can experiment on a small scale in the business. We can even take courses to learn more about elements of running our business we may need help with.


People still need and want products and services


Even when the economy is in turmoil and uncertainty seems to be the state of things, people still need products and services. When many were expecting the economy to come to a grinding halt because of Covid-19, it didn’t necessarily happen that way everywhere. Even with many businesses closed and people working from home, businesses have found ways to adapt and make the most of a less than ideal situation.


When your business is deeply affected, sometimes you have to come up with new and creative ways to get your products and services to customers. Sometimes that means we need to adapt our business model, our delivery method, our purchasing process, our supply chain, or other elements of our business. But when businesses are attuned to the needs and wants of their customers – even in unprecedented circumstances – there are many opportunities that may have been unseen or unheeded before that offer a new way forward.


We’ve only scratched the surface with these little nuggets of wisdom gained from 2020. There are many more out there to be found and certainly ones that apply specifically to your business. Armed with those lessons, now it’s time to look forward into 2021 and to chart our course to success there.


Looking forward to 2021


With lessons learned from looking back at 2020, the next direction to look is forward. Ultimately, the only way we benefit from all the opportunities to learn and grow this year is if we decide to move forward with a fresh perspective and determination.


While we don’t know what 2021 will look like – as we’ve seen in 2020, nearly anything can happen – we should still be planning for the coming year and what we’d like to accomplish. That may mean we’re trying to make up ground we lost in 2020 or it could mean we’re working hard to maintain some advantages we gained in the mix. So, what does 2021 have in store? The true answer is that we don’t know. But that shouldn’t prevent us from moving forward and charging ahead towards what we want 2021 to look like.


With the same points drawn from 2020, here are some ways we can develop a strategy to have a better year in 2021.


  1. Develop a strategy for finding and attracting new customers

  2. Evaluate how your business can adapt to meet customer needs

  3. Keep making great products and providing excellent service


While these points are far from all we can do in the coming year to improve and grow our businesses, they’re a great starting point. And the same model can be applied to other unique lessons we’ve seen this year. Evaluate lessons learned and then determine how your business, methods, products or other aspects of the way you function can be improved.


Make a plan to attract customers


With the knowledge that customers aren’t just going to find us without help, we need to create a strategy that will bring them to us. At AlphaGraphics, we focus on helping businesses find their customers and to get their attention. This can be with printed products, signage or digital marketing services. We develop strategies that will help us accomplish this goal of helping other busiensses. Your business’ objectives may be very different than ours or other businesses near you, but you still need a strategy specifically tailored to your strengths and your customers’ needs.

Your plan could include an evaluation of many different parts of your business. Do you have adequate staffing? Do your employees need training? Are your policies and procedures clear? Are you offering the right services and products to customers? How are you communicating with and getting marketing information to your potential customers (We can help here!)? Is your pricing model right for current circumstances? Are there operational changes that need to be made? When you’re answering these questions, you may discover elements that need immediate attention and see others that are further down the road, but that will need to be addressed at some point.


Once you’ve pinpointed a few areas to improve and build upon, then it’s time to develop a strategy to move forward. Focus less on having a perfectly tailored business plan for 2021 and more on taking the daily actions that will help you get closer to where you want to be. When you plan your work and work your plan, you’ll discover areas where you need to adjust and tweak – this is a normal part of the process and isn’t something that should be avoided. In some ways, it’s proactively doing the types of evaluations and adjustments that 2020 forced on us. And it feels a lot more productive when it’s us holding the steering wheel!


How can you better meet customers’ needs?


Meeting customers’ needs should be the focus of your business. While you’re ultimately in business to earn money and deliver results to your shareholders, the way you do this is by providing a valuable product or service to your customers. It’s likely that you’re already doing a pretty good job – but it can be easy for a business to lose touch with their customers when things are changing rapidly.


So, what’s the best way to find out what your customers need? Ask them! You may be surprised by how readily your customers will give you information about what you’re doing well and what you could be doing differently. In our connected age, many customers are eager to give feedback about businesses and what is being offered. Yes, there are some people out there who never seem to have anything positive to say. While their opinions will certainly be included in your research, make sure you’re focusing on the opinions of your key customers. If one of your best customers is thrilled with your service, but five small customers aren’t loving it, take a closer look. Does it really warrant any changes? When you’re focused on better meeting your customers’ needs, make sure it’s the right customers you’re evaluating. Don’t give up and don’t stop moving forward. The better you’re able to stay on top of things and keep learning and growing, the better able you’ll be to steer your business successfully into the future.


Keep giving customers what they’re looking for


Sometimes our culture focuses too much on fixing the bad things rather than continuing the great things we’re already doing. It seems to be in our nature to want to spend our time and effort getting those final tweaks so everything is just perfect. But, oftentimes, our efforts are better spent maintaining the things that we already do really well. If our customers are happy with our products and the services we provide, we should keep doing that at a high level.


Whatever it is that has brought our businesses success so far in our journey are probably worth continuing. While it’s important to stay up on updates in technology and processes, don’t change something just for the sake of change. If it will help you deliver the same kinds of benefits your customers have come to expect in a better or more efficient way, give it a good long look. Ultimately, any business decisions made need to keep us moving in the right direction. Any decision to change things up should be based on appropriate research and evaluation of the impact it will have on customers and the business as a whole.


Make 2021 a great year!


Regardless of what 2020 looked like for you, the only direction is forward. Even though we don’t know what’s on the horizon or coming up next, we can still make a difference in the lives of our employees, partners and customers. While there will undoubtedly be setbacks and challenges in the coming year, that doesn’t have to stop us from making 2021 great! What is driving you forward? Come talk to us and we’ll help you get there!


If you want to learn more about the services AlphaGraphics Sandy offers to help businesses get noticed, contact us at 801.733.9320, at us431@alphagraphics.com, or through our website. If you'd like a free marketing review to evaluate your marketing communications, speak with your sales rep or give us a call and mention this post. We're here to help you!

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