In this column James Pinchbeck, Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants, considers opportunity in 2021, the year of the Ox.
At the time of writing this we were on day two of the programme of vaccination to protect the most vulnerable from Covid-19. Boris Johnson, nearly 4 years since the Brexit referendum, was embarking on a visit to Brussels for dinner with Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, in an attempt to secure a trade deal with only days left until the end of the transition period on 1 January. All this at the end of what has been an unprecedented year to say the least for us all on a global scale.
It is widely claimed that the impact of the pandemic is likely to be significant and lasting, something that not only us a nation but the world probably has not seen since the end of the Second World War, if at all.
The long period of business and life disruption experienced for nearly a year has given rise to changes in the way we work, how we live our lives and, in many cases, what we value and what is important. Therefore, it would be naive to think we are going to return to ‘normal’ or as it was before as our Covid security, including use of vaccinations, allows us to lead life with less restrictions.
2021 though, even as it sees a slow start to an upturn, should be viewed as one of opportunity and excitement. Perhaps ironically, according to the Chinese horoscope, it is the year of the Ox. It is said to be a year that is deemed to be a lucky one and that financially rewards hard work and effort but that also embraces a focus on relationships and working together.
This perhaps sets the scene for the year ahead. With the adversity of the last year giving rise to significant opportunity in terms of fresh thinking about the businesses and organisations we run, the chance to respond to changing needs for the workforce and customers alike and a time to consider the lasting impact of the pandemic – especially in terms of how our lives impact on society and our natural resources.
2021 is likely to mark the start of a lasting period of time that brings about new perspective for us all but especially businesses, with more of a focus on sustainability, use of technology to enhance our way of working and also the quality of our lives. The pandemic saw many businesses and individuals develop new ideas, products, services and new ventures. Certainly, such creativity and enterprise is likely to be rife not just over the coming year but in the years ahead.
Whilst business leaders no doubt will continue to feel the burden of managing the situation, hopefully, and not least through collaboration and team effort, those with a flexible, visionary, creative mindset and strong engaging leadership will recoup the fruits of their labour. Whilst new and different can be scary it also can be exciting and invigorating.