2020 has been an unprecedented year in many ways. The biggest challenge of 2020 was undoubtedly the novel coronavirus we know as COVID-19, which yielded a global pandemic the likes of which we haven’t seen before, a virus that negatively impacted families, companies, industries, economies, governments, countries, and ultimately the way we live our lives. 2020 has been the year of loss and misfortune. The year we ALL failed.
Nearly 40 million people have filed for unemployment in the U.S. since the beginning of March. In mid-April, the country’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7%, a statistic we hadn’t seen since the Great Depression over 90 years ago. According to a Washington Post article, over 100,000 small businesses have closed their stores for good. This doesn't even count the businesses that closed indefinitely or those that are in danger of closing because of the virus. Even major companies were hit hard. Diamond Offshore and Whiting Petroleum, two oil companies, were some of the first larger companies to file for bankruptcy. Popular retail companies such as J.C. Penny, J. Crew, and Brooks Brothers have all filed for bankruptcy since May. Even Tuesday Morning, Chuck E. Cheese, and Hertz have declared bankruptcy since COVID struck. Simply put, no one was spared, however, this does not have to mean the end.
It is very clear that the people are fighting back and haven’t totally given up hope. Businesses have adapted to the world we now live in. Companies have shifted focus, altered products, and catered to new target audiences in order to stay afloat and, in some cases, create great success. For example, distilleries across the country have allocated part of their production towards creating hand sanitizer during a time when we need it the most. There are four distilleries in Louisville alone that have done this. Let us not forget the millions of essential workers and employees that have adapted with the times. They wear masks and sometimes gloves for an entire shift. They have to sanitize every surface that someone may come in contact with. They attend several video conference calls a day while working from home. Some have to look after their children while doing so. These things are not as easy as they appear and they have been done by millions of people every day for the past few months. People and businesses are fighting to get back to normal.
The ability to adapt is perhaps the most underrated aspect of humanity. When faced with extreme adversity and calamity, humans have and will overcome. We’ve been doing it for centuries. Yes, it is difficult at first, and you will most likely fail. However, with time, we will analyze, learn, create, innovate, and adapt to these difficult challenges. This goes for people and for businesses. Look back at our previous blog, “How to Turn Failure Into Future Success”, to see how you can turn things around. Learn, strategize, and execute to achieve the COVID bounce back.
I leave you with a quote from author Tim Harford’s book, “Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure”,
“No plan survives first contact with the enemy. What matters is how quickly the leader is able to adapt.”