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COVID-19 business takeaways
Relationship Manager at Future Processing
In 2020 doing business became very difficult and unpredictable all around the globe. The pandemic was unexpected and none of us was truly prepared for it.
It’s been almost a year now that we live in a world, we do not dare to call normal yet, however, it is a world which we are involuntarily getting used to – businesswise too. It’s impossible to predict when COVID-19 will cease to be threat to business, but what we can do is look at 2020, reflect upon it and draw conclusions for the future.
How organisations can adapt to the new normal, how to stay on top of the situation and make use of the situation to gain momentum? We’ll ask our guest, Anton Lewis, a serial entrepreneur and a founder of a digital agency.
Michał Grela (MG): Hello and welcome to yet another episode of IT Insights by Future Processing. Today, we’re going to focus on how 2020 and COVID pandemic changed the way we do business. Doing business recently became very difficult and unpredictable all around the globe. The pandemic was definitely unexpected and obviously none of us was truly prepared for it.
It’s been almost a year now that we live in a world that we don’t dare to call normal yet. However, it’s a world which we are involuntarily getting used to, business wise too, of course. And although it’s impossible to predict when COVID-19 will cease to be threat business. But I guess what we can do is we can take a look at 2020 and reflect upon it and draw conclusions for the future.
We can ask ourselves how organizations can adapt to the new normal. How to stay on top of the situation and how to make use of the current market situation to gain momentum? And these are the questions that I’m going to ask my guest, Anton Lewis, a serial entrepreneur and a founder of a digital agency. Thanks for joining me today, Anton. I’m happy to have you.
Anton C. Lewis (AL): Thank you very much, Michael. It’s an honor to have the privilege here and discuss with you some important factors around our way of living during these unprecedented times. Now, I guess a little bit more about me. I started a digital agency just over a year ago in High Score, or over in London, we call it Secondary Score.
Since then, we’ve grown tremendously from a small graphic design studio, designing logos and digital art, to becoming a fully-fledged agency, providing top level web development, digital marketing, and SEO for our clients. As it stands, we now operate in over a dozen countries, boasting a strong team of 130 developers, strategists, and solution-driven techies here to bring our client’s projects to fruition. We exist purely to help businesses reimagine, reinvent, and transform their digital world.
MG: Thanks for sharing your background, Anton. I’m really happy to have a chance to speak with you. Definitely your entrepreneur experience makes you a very relevant speaker. So since 2020 is already behind us, luckily, but although it’s behind us, we still see that the pandemic has not magically ended. Although I guess some hoped. Nevertheless, last year allowed us to draw some conclusions based on what’s happening and learn how to handle the crisis. So what are your takeaways from the last year to remember business wise?
AL: That’s the thing, that’s a very good question, Michael. I think COVID-19 has really shaken the world and it’s not been the same. And to be honest, it’s going to be a very, very, very long time for it to be even remotely close to, let’s say, normality. One thing I can say is that us humans, we seem to be very good at adaptation and in today’s society, I think the best way to adapt, to stay relevant, to continue this normality bubble that we’ve become so accustomed to is to get ourselves online.
And I think we’re in a very pinnacle moment in history right now, and I believe COVID has influenced that tremendously. I think where we are with technology is truly unimaginable. I mean, for the last 20 years alone, many businesses have been gradually transforming themselves with digital technologies to adapt to new realities of the internet and mobile. And you’ll often hear brands discussing their digital transformation initiative. And as a powerful step forward, though not very easy to implement, businesses had to really compress their digital roadmaps into a matter of days and weeks in order to respond to the realities that we now all face. From figuring out how to reach their customers, patients, students in an economy that literally changed overnight.
But Michael, I do think there’s one thing that’s quite clear. Businesses, entrepreneurs need to be digital. This isn’t bricks and mortar. This is clicks and mortar. This is E-commerce. We’re now accelerating in new ways of doing commerce and engaging with really powerful channels. And 2020 has been marked as the digital accelerant of the decade. Unfortunately, there’s many entrepreneurs though that still refuse or lack the knowledge or the need to create a digital presence and are slowly becoming obsolete as a result. There’ll be dinosaurs by the time this pandemic is over Michael.
And look, I’d say there’s three core things that entrepreneurs need to do more than ever. One is to adapt. I think it’s absolutely vital. It’s important for us to learn from the mistakes that many businesses major in the early days, and to get into a new regime to prepare ourselves for the year ahead. Two, I think it’s to implement a solid digital transformation plan. As an executive, a CEO, an entrepreneur, steer yourself into a position of power. Create a plan to take your business to the next level and really, really, really put good thought into this. And the third point, follow it through. Plain and simple. No ifs or buts, get it done. There’s no explanation needed. This is preparing yourself for an already changed world and setting yourself up for success. These are aspects that entrepreneurs should definitely pay attention to right now, if they haven’t really started. No one wants to be a dinosaur.
MG: Yeah, I could definitely agree to that. Doing business is not easy, especially in the challenging times we live in. So this definitely entrepreneurs should pay attention to now, to make the business adapt to the changes the pandemic evoked. But from your perspective, are there any definite losers or winners of the situations? What verticals from your experience or your perspective you think gained the most out of the current situation, in terms of long-term growth and potential?
AL: Winners or losers, 100%, there are some strong winners as a result of COVID. Winners that are still prospering today even early 2021. And of course there are some losers as a result, some losing more than others, and sometimes it was completely out of their control. Though the businesses that excelled are often the businesses that had used digital and went full throttle ahead.
Apple being one of them and became a $2 trillion company last year. Last quarter in fact, they made just over a $100 billion dollars in revenue. The highest the company’s ever seen. PayPal profits tripled, as for a surge in online payments. Amazon Web Services, the world’s most comprehensive cloud platform performed way better than expected due to pandemic shield E-commerce and digital growth. Even us here at Pixify, we’ve been the busiest we’ve ever been since conception.
So busy, I was juggling 16 to 18 hour days, seven days a week, practically around the clock just to stay on top of everything and meet client demands. Everyone was off the streets inside their homes with their families. And the only way we got connected was through internet technologies and Zoom also being another clear winner here. Marketing skyrocketed, people having to rethink their daily lives. Many of which started an online side hustle, others perfected their online side hustle.
It has really sparked a new era of technological innovation that has never really been seen before. It’s been revolutionary and with the growing demand of social media platforms and intricate path, we’re creating a digital presence has gone through the roof. Hundreds of millions of people now taking into the internet to discover, to learn, to perfect. This is going to be start an era of long-term growth, not only for businesses, but for people. And that’s what happened.
MG: Very, very nicely said. As an entrepreneur and as a visionary, who you definitely are, you have to look ahead and not only in the perspective of week, month, year, but also in decades. But from your perspective, what will be the impact of the current situation, the pandemic situation, on the industry in the next, say, five, 10 years? Do you believe that those effects, what you’re just explaining about, going digital, turning brick and mortar into digital and click and mortar, I really liked that one. Do you believe that these effects are long-term, or at some point we’ll go back to what we refer to as normal, at least pre COVID normal, and slowly forget our pandemic experience?
And I think that’s particularly relevant and especially when you look at examples. For example, personally speaking, I was not a big fan of working from home, but eventually after a month or two, I thought, “All right, I’m never going back to the office.” But right now, after a year at home, I feel like I’ve never missed the office as much as I do now. So I went from new normal to missing the old normal back again. And I’m just wondering if that’s not something we’ll be seeing. So what do you think are these effects, long-term or will we go back to what we were at?
AL: And I think that’s a very good point that you’ve made as well. From being at the office every single day, to then now being at home every single day, it’s definitely a change in what we’re really used to. And I know that even your big tech firms, Facebook, Twitter, they didn’t put processes in place that when the world starts opening back up again, that employees will have the option to still work from home, work remotely, or go back to the office.
And it does have that pros and cons on both sides of the spectrum. And I do also believe it’s a long term effects and the world was already heading in that direction, in my opinion. COVID has only just accelerated it. In five years, we’ll be more tech-infused than ever before. The world is already moving as an ever-increasing rate and businesses have already expedited their digital transformation processes.
One thing that we’re very good at as humans is not going back to the past. We’re always innovating all around the globe and we’ll continue to be, for at least a very long time. We’ll create a new normal way of living, and we already started doing that many years ago from digital meetings and interviews to digital note-keeping, digital television, digital communication, and the list goes on.
We’ll never though forget 2020. I think it’s really made, and it will forever be a hallmark and foundation for at least a lot of businesses and people. Lives have really changed tremendously and I think there’s no turning back at this point. There will be a new normal, just not the normal that we’re used to.
MG: Yeah, most definitely. Anton, you started your first business at the age of 13 and correct me if I wrong, but at the age of 18, you already had a six digit result. So I believe that-
AL: That’s correct.
MG: Congrats on that, that’s really impressive. It is. I believe that this kind of creativity and passion is still present in young people today, regardless of the pandemic. Of course they are now kept under the roof, but eventually they will come up. So what advice would you give to the young entrepreneurs wanting to start a business now? Despite all odds.
AL: My advice, love what you do. It’s imperative. Your business is your baby. You want to treat it with as much love, tender and care and more. You will nurture. You will be there for the birth of your business. Now, the moment you neglect, the moment you start having doubts, is where things can often go left.
And they say nine out of 10 businesses fail within the first year of starting. There’s statistics that point to money being the main cause of that. But it’s not really the money that’s the cause. That’s just the main excuse they give. But really it’s the time invested by a set entrepreneur. Now, when you’re very invested in what you’re doing, you will go above and beyond to make sure what you do is worth it. You will learn, as with anything you do. You will adapt. You will create, curate, strategize. You will test, you will fail, you will test again, you will fail more before you get it right. It’s life. And that’s how you get stronger, especially in business.
As a boxer, you can’t expect not to get hit. There will be times you’re caught off guard and you get a nasty blow to your face. Tough. It happens, but it gives you the reason to hit back harder. Don’t tap out and run away when you’ve only been in the ring for eight seconds. Invest yourself, align yourself, and start making strategic moves. That’s when you’ll be making a real difference.
MG: That was really inspiring. Thank you. Thank you, Anton. That sounded like something you really do believe in.
AL: Of course. I speak from your heart.
MG: It definitely came straight from the heart. Thank you, Anton, for sharing your thoughts. I believe, just summarizing this short conversation up, I believe that of course I 100% agree with what you said. The pandemic in 2020 was perhaps not a gentle, but a notch, towards going digital and the ones who understand it will be the ones who will stay on top of the situation. If you think that the changes brought by COVID will be temporary, then that’s a mistake probably. And as long as there’s passion in what you do, the success is just around the corner.
AL: That’s right. That’s right. I think you hit the nail on the head. That’s it.
MG: Thank you, Anton. And thank you, our listeners for listening to yet another episode of IT Insights. If you liked it, do share it and let us know if you’d like a topic covered in one of the future episodes. Thank you.