Why 2021 will be our best year yet…

Gareth BuckleyBlog, Covid-19

If you’re reading this, then congratulations on making it to the end of 2020, easily one of the worst years, ever. We all know why so I won’t dwell on it, but to prove my point (not that you disagree, I’m sure) I just looked up ‘worst parts of 2020’ on Google and I got 534 million results.

Despite all the hurdles that 2020 threw at us, we all managed to band together, and get creative – something to be proud of! Communities all over the world united to face whatever came their way, and show that we can withstand anything if we’re all in it together!

The year has also been a great opportunity for entrepreneurs everywhere, and many businesses thrived during this time of uncertainty! From online salsa classes to home-made cupcakes, people found ways to come out of the year on top – so join me as we go back through the ‘interesting’ year of 2020 to see the highs, the lows, and the ways people have succeeded despite everything that came their way!

January and February –

Koalas saved from the Australian wildfires (source: BBC)

The year started as it meant to go on, with the worst wildfires we had seen in decades raging since July 2019 continuing into January, killing hundreds of thousands of animals, and turning thousands of homes to ash – and that was just the beginning. Add to this what many thought was the start of World War 3, and the eruption of the Taal Volcano in the Philippines, we were starting to get an idea of what the rest of the year might look like.

But people came together to donate over $500m AU to help combat the fires, including American entrepreneur, Bethenny Frankel, who used her resources to mobilise relief efforts in Australia, to help combat the wildfires. We also heard murmurs of a new virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan, but I’m sure that won’t be a big deal right?


NHS support during the COVID lockdown (souce: The Times)

I may have been wrong about that new virus.

The world grinded to a halt in March, as countries all around the world entered lockdown. In a new and history-making time, people stayed in for the next few months – but we were all in it together. As we stayed home, protected the NHS, and saved lives, whilst a lot of people struggled, many decided it was a great opportunity to start up their own businesses! Between March and July, here at The Insolvency Company, we were stunned by the intuition and entrepreneurial spirit of the British public!

As I write this now, just thinking of people I know personally, many people set up the following businesses during lockdown: earrings and necklaces, candles, furniture, cakes and baking, successful and profitable YouTube channels, acrylic nail businesses, face care products, homemade cloth facemasks, and more. Across the country, many others have had success with businesses in the food and food delivery sector, fashion and clothing, floristry, online networking events, and the list really does go on. It’s truly amazing how the people that we used to see every day, went out on their own two feet (or stayed in, rather) and made something of their own!

Just by looking on Facebook marketplace, you can still see the extent to which people have had success in their own small businesses, whether it be full time, or alongside another job. This only strengthened our sense of community, especially in smaller places like towns and villages in Somerset. It helped us to feel like we were really supporting each other when we bought from local businesses like these – something for us all to continue doing in 2021 to support the many businesses that, still face financial difficulty due to the impacts of Coronavirus.

COVID restrictions saw thousands of businesses have to close (source: Times of Malta)

Thousands of new people set up vendor accounts on Etsy – a great platform to sell homemade goods – in the first 6 months of 2020, Etsy’s sales numbers grew 71% year on year! Furthermore, Etsy’s revenue is predicted to have grown 22% from 2019 to 2021.

People managed to do all this, whilst still fitting in their daily walk!

In the UK, the Government brought in the furlough scheme to help struggling businesses all across the country – providing up to 80% of wages, saving thousands of people’s jobs and preventing redundancies and dismissals across the country. In May, 30% of the UK’s workforce was on furlough. By October, the cost of the furlough scheme was estimated to have been in excess of £80 billion. As of December 2020 there were just under 10 million people who were still on furlough.

July and August

Risha Sunak launching the Eat Out to Help Out scheme (source: The Times)

People across the country rejoiced as we were all allowed back out into the new world – obviously whilst doing so 2m apart and with our masks on! Picnics and celebratory garden drinks took place all across the country, and some people even managed to grab a quick holiday abroad.

For businesses, it was salvation! As all types of SMEs, from clothing, technology, and hairdressers (to the delight of many people who were sporting a lockdown hairdo) reopened with all their COVID measures in place! It was a welcome and relieving moment for many business owners across the country.

The next big step for the country was the introduction of the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme that was introduced at the start of August, with the goal of getting people to get out, go to restaurants, and reinvest in the local economy! Now – we don’t want to get political here. Regardless of your views on the scheme, you can’t deny that it was a fantastic way to get money back out to local restaurants, as well as to see the loved ones that we had missed over the last few months! Small and big restaurants all benefitted massively from the huge amounts of business that they received, and were back to normal, after the large-scale investment in home-delivery meals that many pubs and restaurants had to do over the previous few months. The good news of the #EatOutToHelpOut scheme was that restaurants that took part saw an increase in visits, anywhere between 10% and 200% over August of 2019.

November and December

We all looked forward to seeing our families over the Christmas period (source: Groupon)

November, unfortunately, came with the news of a new lockdown in the UK – lasting until the end of the month. This was something the public agreed with, in the hope of a white and merry Christmas ahead. Christmas tree markets actually saw an increased sales margin in this time, as millions of households looked to lift the lockdown blues with some festive decorations. Not only this, but almost all markets across the UK sold out completely before December even came, and many Christmas tree farms delivered trees to peoples’ homes – it’s great to see that some businesses still found success in these times – although it’s just not the same as picking out the tree yourself, is it?

As shops reopened in December, unfortunately they didn’t have the same scale of success as in recent years, in fact high street retail hadn’t been as bad in 25 years, due to the huge boom in online sales over lockdown! Some businesses made up for this in their online stores, but our sympathy goes out to those whose businesses have struggled due to the decline in high street sales – if you need us, we are here.

Christmas got closer, and although the amount of households you could see on the big day became more and more restricted, we all found our way to have a ‘Merry Little Christmas’ – 2020 style. The festive period came and went, and hopes for a happier year ahead were in the minds of everyone across the country.

January & February 2021

New Years celebrations in London (source: BBC)

Here we are in February 2021, and although all the problems of last year aren’t gone, we’re all hoping for new opportunities and better times ahead. I don’t know about you, but we are all looking forward to the next few months, and the roadmap back to normality.

Looking back, it’s been action-packed: Fires, COVID, Lockdown, furloughing, the NHS, Black Lives Matter, Social distancing, Lockdown 2 and much much more. But also we’ve come closer as communities, started new businesses, become closer with our families, donated to charities, helped local businesses, but most importantly – we didn’t give up.

It’s been a ‘unique’ year to say the least; we can’t deny that many small and large businesses everywhere have struggled. Although it’s been difficult, I hope I’ve given you an idea of some of the upsides that we saw through the year too.

To everyone who has persevered, been resilient, and helped someone else through – we want to say thank you. And to those of you who have started your own business, congratulations on the start of something brilliant; it’s truly been great to see how people can make good out of any situation!

And for everyone reading this, we send you our best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2021 – and new beginnings for everyone!

Written by Tom Towers

Mental Health

Although here at The Insolvency Company, we work in finance, we can all agree that the toll on us over the last year has been much more than just financial. For those of you that have struggled mentally, emotionally, or financially, remember that you are not alone! In fact, current estimates say 30% of the population are struggling with their wellbeing. We can help you with business debt issues, and there are always people who can help you with mental health problems. We are in this together!

The Insolvency Company – 01823 216156    |    info@theinsolvencycompany.co.uk

Samaritans – 116 123