While this has been a hard year for so many, there are lessons in everything we experience, opportunities to grow and become better versions of ourselves. We can easily focus on all of the things that challenged us and confronted us with their brutality, but we serve ourselves so much better when we focus on the good. Certainly, there must be something beautiful that came out of this year. Read through the lessons I learned as a small business owner in 2020.

Listen to your customers.

This year, you simply could not avoid listening to your customers. With so many changes, we had to pay attention to what people were saying or risk losing our businesses entirely. This is always necessary, but this year certainly served as a reminder of just how important it is to not only just listen but to do so with compassion and empathy.

Position your offers based on what your customers are saying.

As a brand strategist, it was refreshing to see businesses redefine their messaging, focusing on the true, present-day needs of their clients. Although an adjustment or reposition may have not been the goal for 2020, it was necessary. I worked one-on-one with several small business owners who went through this exact process — regrouping and strategically positioning their offers. These business owners refreshed brand identity visuals as well as their digital presence with updated websites. They communicated more with their clients. They honed in their messaging to be more clear and concise. I worked with business owners that opened new facilities and offered new services, even started new businesses. They understood how important it is to be ready when things change, to remember why we run our businesses and how we can serve our clients in the best way possible.

Don’t throw in the towel.

Yes, we could have kept doing things “the way they’ve always been done,” but that would have led to failure. Instead, we restructured how we did things and didn’t give up. That’s something to be proud of … and our 2020 is what offered up the opportunity to look at our businesses differently, to look at our clients differently, and to determine how we need to change to serve them better.

Shine a light on your weaknesses.

This year meant extra time for some, to increase skills or shine a light on weaknesses that may have not been of much interest previously. At the Agency, we used the time to increase our skills in the area of brand strategy and messaging. We’ve acquired training and certification in storytelling. We’ve grown, added skills, and considered strongly how we can do more for our clients.

Celebrate progress.

Progress is a beautiful thing, and even if hard times were what pushed you forward, it’s still something to be celebrated. Like a lot of our clients, we took the time to refresh our brand identity visuals and create a new website. With new processes involving brand strategy, we needed to update the site to match this work. Stay tuned for a new website launch in the coming weeks!

Look for the silver linings.

This year served as an unavoidable shift. Going with it was the only choice. Growing up, my father always said, “the good outweighs the bad” and you know what, he was right then and it holds true for all of us now. We can all find something to be grateful for, a silver lining, a blessing… Tell me, what was your silver lining from a year that some wish to hurry into the past?