Reflections on 2020
What a crap show of a year. A pandemic biased against the most vulnerable. Unequal societies laid bare. Polarised politics across the globe. Economies and industries destroyed.
Yet some businesses made the most of 2020 and scaled up. The businesses that did well share some common traits.
Firstly, they have a clear mission that resonates both internally and externally. A team that is entirely working remotely needs a rallying point and a clear mission provides that – it makes the hundreds of hours of back-to-back zoom calls worthwhile. An evocative mission also helps recruit talent to quickly meet the business opportunities that emerge from crises. And, especially in these times, potential customers are won over by a strong mission.
Secondly, they have highly adaptable leaders. Leaders who are open minded to new opportunities, quick to assess signals and, importantly, quick to implement. Rigid leaders who didn’t search out feedback didn’t do well in a year like 2020.
In fintech and tech generally, 2020 was not a bad year at all, with very healthy levels of investment and M&A globally. In the UK, where a EU trade deal was not agreed until Christmas Eve, investors never stopped seeing the UK as the pre-eminent place in Europe to start and scale new technology. This was evidenced by UK tech firms attracting record levels of VC funding, more than the rest of Europe combined. Outward VC’s own portfolio of fintech start-ups raised over $150 million in follow-on funding from global investors.
In these bleak times, it is comforting to know that many of these start-ups will make transformational contributions to building back a better post-COVID world.
Here’s to better things in 2021. We all need it!