As we prepare to turn the calendar, I think we can all say that 2020 has been a unique and challenging year.
Many of the small businesses we know and serve spent much of the year in survival mode. Their primary focus was often trying to generate enough sales to pay the bills to keep the lights on. They worried about employees they laid off due to lack of business but were grateful for the ones that stuck with them.
Restaurants learned how to navigate a more takeout-style menu and a constantly changing landscape when they were told their dining rooms were to close, open, and then close again. Medical professionals took PPE to a whole new level. Most offices suddenly employed more remote workers than they ever imagined. Everyone learned how to get more comfortable with video conferencing software such as Zoom. “You are on mute” was likely one of the most commonly heard phrases of 2020!
The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided additional benefits for employees in the form of Emergency Paid Sick Leave and the Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided benefits for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Neither Act was perfect and the PPP was fraught with issues in application and required several updates. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that individuals and businesses would have been much worse off without these programs.
Through it all, our team rose to the challenges of the year.
We spent many hours studying each new change to the PPP program.
We presented webinars to help businesses navigate the information in partnership with the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, and Fergus Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.
We assisted small business clients with applications for these programs on the front end, and forgiveness applications on the back end.
We supported organizations’ employees’ needs and responded to questions about the FFCRA: how to handle employees who were sick with coronavirus, employees who were caring for someone with coronavirus, and employees who were unable to come to work because of daycare and school closures.
We also learned more about proper mask etiquette, social distancing, and close contact rules than we ever wanted to know!
For the first time ever, our QuickBooks training classes moved from an in-person format to a virtual one. Although this is not ideal, we are grateful for a format to continue to provide training to businesses owners, their staff, and other accountants.
In the midst of our “regular work,” we challenged ourselves to continue to grow our business and better ourselves. We completed an 8-week Scaling Up course. From it, we solidified our purpose, values, and BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). Our values exemplify what we commit to each day: Progress, Leadership, Reliability, and being People-Focused.
Although none of us want to repeat 2020, we are happy to say that we weathered the storm – some days more gracefully than others. We learned that just because you’re struggling, doesn’t mean you’re failing. Instead, the struggle makes you stronger.
With businesses and schools still shutdown in some places and the pandemic still very real, January 1, 2021 is not likely to bring any immediate relief. Hopefully, as the vaccinations become more readily available and additional stimulus relief is passed for individuals and businesses, we will all come closer to our former “normal”.
Looking to 2021, it is essential that organizations continue to focus on their core capabilities, while also looking for new opportunities. Understanding your finances and looking at your key performance indicators daily or weekly is paramount. Becoming a better leader and growing your employees is also more important now than ever before. Employee burnout, stress, and mental/emotional health issues are very real. If your numbers or your people could be improved in 2021, contact us – we’d be happy to help!
While we do not know each of your personal situations, we know that 2020 has been challenging, to say the least. For 2021, we wish for you peace, hope, health, and business success!