What’s the most important thing you learnt in 2020? Seven entrepreneurs weigh in

Alex Zaccaria Linktree

Alex Zaccaria

Co-founder and chief executive officer at Linktree

Creating a culture of open communication is pivotal to cultivating a successful business, and 2020 has truly brought this learning to the forefront.

During the pandemic, our user base grew from 4 million to over 9 million, and scaling our team through this growth has been a unique challenge.

Moving from 12 employees pre-COVID-19, to 50 during two lockdowns, required the adoption of new tools and completely new ways of working. From creating rituals around sharing daily goals and activities through Zoom and Slack, to making sure staff had the appropriate digital tools and support they need to stay connected and motivated, our goal has been to enable transparency, community and openness within our teams.

It’s this mindset that we’ll take with us into the year ahead.

Laura Keily

Founder and managing director at Immediation

A key takeaway for me is that rapid digital transformation is possible when there is a demonstrated need.

I’ve seen this firsthand with the legal industry, which, during the pandemic, adapted swiftly to provide the services that Australians need most.

Before COVID-19, it was estimated that 75% of legal disputes would be resolved online in 10 years. The lockdown saw 100% of disputes resolved virtually almost overnight.

Our platform saw a 1000% increase in its number of users from March to October.

This year has made it abundantly clear to the legal industry that technology can play a powerful role in making justice more accessible for all. We’ve seen that virtual courts, virtual mediations and virtual hearings are not just possible, they are critical to alleviating the mounting pressures on our court system.

In a year of unprecedented challenges, I am proud of how our industry has risen up to greet necessary change and innovation. I look forward to what 2021 has in store.

Jenn Donovan

Jenn Donovan

Co-founder of Spend with Us

Community! I think the ‘lack’ of being able to be part of a community in 2020 (due to restrictions on travel and isolation) highlighted to so many of us just how important being a part of a community is.

Whether it’s a community of like-minded business owners, your local farming or town community, or just your community of family and friends, 2020 showed us what a huge roll in our day-to-day lives community plays, especially in business.

Whether your community is offline or online, the human need to ‘belong’ is always strong, but even stronger in 2020 and beyond.

I feel, as a country girl, that the people who didn’t know their neighbours, such as in the cities, now know what us ‘country’ people have always known: community, being a part of it and having one, is one of the highlights of life!

While 2020 may have been a horrendous year, it’s somehow brought us closer together in so many ways.

Sonia Gibson

Founder of Accounting Heart

The importance of having three months’ working capital (in other words, enough in cash and collectable debtors to cover three months of expenses).

It took three months for government stimulus to start flowing. The days between, when shutdowns were announced and JobKeeper was revealed, were absolutely terrifying for small business and not something I will forget.

Those in bushfire-affected communities really could have done with six months, given they missed out on their Christmas trade.

This year really was the perfect storm for business, and it is unrealistic to expect businesses to have six months cash around to keep going.  

Rachael Ferguson

Chief executive officer at Synxbody

My biggest takeaway from 2020 is the importance of being able to adapt and find opportunities in the midst of chaos. This year has forced me to pause and reflect on how I can do business better for my fellow Australians.

This relates to everything from supporting small Australian businesses and hiring local companies, to planning to manufacture and develop more products in Australia. 

We will continue with our international expansion plans when the timing is right, but as a business owner, we all need to support the Australian economy and come together through collaboration.

I have also realised just how vital it is to have a solid network of fellow entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off, tackle challenges with and support during these uncertain times.   

Dan Jovevski

Founder and chief executive officer at WeMoney

The greatest lesson I learnt in 2020 is the importance of building a strong team dynamic and company culture while working remotely.

We’ve had to be very deliberate with the curation of the team by bringing on those with the right skillsets, who are not only compatible but also believe in our company culture.

Your team and the people around you are the ones who will help you achieve what you’ve set out in your mission.

Our team members span from Perth to Sydney and Melbourne, and are as far away as Thailand and Canada. So building a strong, skilled, connected team that shares the one vision was crucial to achieving our goals and upholding our company vision.

Sam Arcadipane

Founder of Fusspot Collagen Beauty Tea

This year has taught me that you can’t always rely on your forecasted business plan, and you have to be adaptable and nimble.

We’re all taught over the years in business to set up a business plan and stick to it. But 2020 was the year where I had planned to launch my exciting new business (a consumer brand) and debut it to the world. However, never would I have thought a global pandemic would have halted all of my launch and marketing plans, and hinder the end user’s purchase power due to lost jobs and freedoms. 

This year has taught me to become robust in quickly pivoting plans. I have had to reallocate financial investment to areas that can still contribute towards the business and make a difference, even though it may be completely off-track from the business plan I’d put together months before I launched.

Learning to be nimble in business is a skill that will no doubt be needed time and time again. Being adept at changing your immediate objectives and goals quickly, and without stress and fuss, is a great skill.

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