Most would agree, 2020 wasn’t great. It will always be remembered for the global pandemic that took the lives of many and forced us apart, for racial injustices that shattered delusions of harmony, for fires that burned through major swaths of Australia and later the United States, and the for largest global economic recession since World War II.
It’s natural to look upon 2020’s end with optimism. With vaccines being distributed and over a trillion dollars in pent-up demand in the U.S., there is some reason for confidence. However, a week into the new year, we’ve seen surging hospitalization rates, new virus strains, and an assault on the American democratic process. And all that unspent cash remains so unevenly distributed that its impact may be uneven as well. These are sobering reminders that recovery in 2021 is not guaranteed.
So what’s it going to take to make 2021 a successful one? If we have any hope of turning this year around, we’ll have to apply everything we learned during 2020. Here are 5 key principles that 2020 brought into focus:
1. Strive for the best and plan for the worst. When COVID-19 started affecting business travel and office attendance in mid-March 2020, we began to hypothesize the pandemic’s impact on our business and planned our response. Part of that plan was to ensure we could withstand 18 months of the worst environment we could imagine: a wholesale drop-off in mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), no new clients, non-performing contracts. At the same time, our team identified potential growth areas in our new environment. We established new targets for how we wanted to grow. We were fortunate that our nightmare scenario did not manifest and we were able to develop new opportunities. Just knowing that we were prepared for the worst actually gave us confidence to pursue new opportunities in measured ways.
2. Actions speak louder than words. We are approached by prospective clients on a weekly basis who tell us how big they are going to grow their business on our platform. We’ll go out of our way to support and nurture some, but we’ll let others walk away. Why? The successful ones tell us who they are by their actions. They haven't just landed in MaaS because they are chasing a growth market. They’ve been toiling in this space, accumulating real world experience, and they've elevated the industry along the way. They put their money where their mouth is, actively investing in their own business and learning. They are looking for the right long-term partner and not just the best short-term deal. And they actively seek insights from other experienced individuals, always trying to learn and improve. At a time when get-rich schemers are out in droves, and the margin for error may be smaller than ever before, it’s critical to pick your partners carefully.
3. Nurture your relationships. Once we make the commitment to work with a client, we treat the partnership like a marriage; we’ll do everything in our power to make it succeed. We realized that customers could benefit from our experience running mobility operations, so our tech company built an Operations Services practice. If a partner needs to defer a payment in order to invest in marketing, we’ll find a way. Success isn’t always within our reach, and being a good partner requires having honest conversations when that’s the case. But when we have an attainable goal, we won’t stop building toward it together.
4. Be patient. Now, more than ever, success is a long-term endeavor. I’m hopeful for what 2021 brings, but it certainly won’t be without its ups and downs. If we learned anything from 2020, it’s that sometimes we have to put aside our personal impulses for the greater good. With the right plans, the right partners and the right attitude, we’ll be ready to make the most of what this year has in store.