This certainly hasn’t been the year any of us were expecting back in January, but we’ve almost made it to the end. While we’re all thinking with glee about putting 2020 behind us, we have one month left to look on the bright side. How can we use these final thirty-one days of 2020 to get us in pole position for 2021? Here are a few ideas we’ve gleaned from our founders. 

Get your house in order. We’re not talking about the glorious place where you live (and work and entertain yourself and everything else). Envision your business as a structure with rooms and floors comprising the various facets of your work. Now, is that a Marie Kondo-type image with clean lines and tidy folds, or are all the closets about to burst? If it’s the former, congratulations—the rest of us kind of hate you. But if it’s the latter, start small. If you just do one thing, organize your electronic files. Decide where to house them (iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive), set up your dream folder system (the one you would have created if you had started your new business with an abundance of free time), start filing things away, and get rid of the rest. You may be surprised what a liberating and clarifying experience this is.

Budget like you mean it. If you do not already have a thoughtful, informed budget for 2021, get started. Budgeting serves multiple purposes, the most important of which is that it forces you to actually make a plan for the next year. Of course, your budget may change as the year goes on (whose 2020 budget contained a pandemic contingency?), but at least you will always have a framework to gauge your progress. We’ve found that budgets also provide something we entrepreneurs need on a daily basis: peace of mind. Knowing your situation, regardless of what it may be, is almost always less scary than not knowing.

Marketing is a real thing worthy of your time. Okay, fine, this sounds obvious. But we know this community well enough to say with some confidence that not everyone loves marketing. For some, it’s the one item on our to do list that gets pushed off every week. For others, it’s something we do on an ad hoc basis but never seem to find the time to invest in. For yet others (I’m talking to you, fellow attorneys), we see marketing as something that marketing people do, so we can stay busy doing the real work. We challenge you, as you look forward to 2021, to ask: what does a strategic marketing plan look like? A real plan, with a real schedule, and time set aside to analyze the results of those marketing efforts. If that seems like too much, just pick one thing for Q1 that feels almost too easy—one newsletter per month, one LinkedIn post per week, or one email to one person each day.   

Give gratitude for 2020 before bidding it adieu. We all appropriately caveat this statement before we make it, but I’ve heard many of you celebrate bits of good that have come out of this year—relationships that have deepened, new businesses that have launched (like ours!), new human beings that have entered the world, a greater awareness of inequity, a revived passion for change and social citizenship, learning to live with less, enjoying the longing for human contact without hesitation that we will hopefully enjoy next year. We have all learned a lot this year. So thank you, 2020.

You can’t start 2021 with a clean slate, but you can start with one that is organized and intentional. Just imagine waking up on January 1 (or 2—we’re never ones to begrudge a night of champagne indulgence) with all that mental space that opens up when the clutter is removed. Happy cleaning!

--Jessie Gabriel

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