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Stop, start, accelerate

It’s been a really tough year to lead a business. As leaders we are expected to face problems and hurdles, but 2020 has thrown up more than most and in the most unexpected ways.

Here are some tips for successful business leadership at the end of 2020.


It’s been a really tough year to lead a business.

While there is undoubtedly hope on the horizon there are also more challenges ahead. Common challenges we are seeing leaders face are:

Emotional exhaustion and feelings of overwhelm

The past year has been overwhelming for many on a professional and personal level. Your business may have faced unprecedented challenges due to shutdowns, restrictions, and quarantines. You may have faced business-related stress like never before and had to manage this while continuing to operate a company. This combined with concern for the health and safety of family and the shift in everyday life has been tough – and for lots of us understandably overwhelming.  

Navigating change and managing teams

It’s been a time of incredible change and leaders have been called on to support their teams in navigating it. Changes in structure and focus mean your team may have taken on new responsibilities and new relationships in the business, while outside of the office the uncertainty of the world and concern for loved ones has tested resolve. Keeping energy and motivation high against this backdrop is tricky but keeping communication flowing and fostering a culture of open conversation can really help.

Dealing with market uncertainty

The dual challenge of Covid and Brexit is creating uncertainty in many markets. When pipelines are unstable, clients struggling, and trade regulations uncertain it’s difficult to budget, predict revenue and make strategic decisions for the future of your business.

Following unusual trends in demand

Current demand for services and products is hard to predict. Unusual trends have seen some go from being vital to no longer useful in a matter of months as working and socialising patterns shift at a pace. Even if these trends don’t affect your business directly the knock-on effects from your client pipeline and future client work might. This makes it hard to plan, approach new clients and ensure you have the right team in place to meet demand.

How to manage challenges and move forward.

As we leave 2020 behind and look to the future, try to take a step back and form a clear action plan for your business. A ‘Stop, Start, Accelerate’ framework can ensure you keep a clear focus and energy high.


Ask yourself what things you need to stop doing and why to ensure your business can continue to succeed. These can be things that help improve your wellbeing and that of your team (e.g. working past 6.30pm), or things that improve your cash flow such as cutting back on unnecessary subscriptions and services.


What do you need start doing to ensure your business thrives? Implement ‘no meeting Fridays’, where teams can take a break from zoom meetings and have a day to recharge. Or consider introducing more digital services as a way for clients and customers to communicate with you via your remote social media pages so you can remain at the forefront of their minds.


When you’ve stopped the things that are having a negative effect and started to implement the things that will benefit business you can accelerate your company in a way that will work.


Support your clients.

Make sure you have regular sessions with your key clients to understand how you can support them – even if they can’t commit to projects right now. It’s key to maintain relationships and let people know you’re still thriving, so they’ll be excited to start working with you again when the time is right.

There’s lots more advice on the Form blog focused on helping your business survive (and even thrive) during this very uncertain time. You will find direct, simple next step actions that leaders can use to improve critical thinking and make better decisions about where to go next.