Every challenge brings opportunity. From that perspective, perhaps like no other 12 months in history, 2020 has offered unprecedented opportunities.

The reality is one of two stark differences. What has propelled many to new heights has brought others to their knees. If you are one of those with skinned knees, it still isn't too late.

By changing your attitude and gratitude, you can change your latitude. (Yes, a bit of a nod to any Parrothead friends out there. ๐Ÿฆœ ๐Ÿ)

2020 has sucked!

Nobody would argue this has been a year we don't want to repeat; the list of reasons is long. But, despite the challenges and forced change, there are unexpected reasons to be thankful for the lessons and opportunities it has brought to our businesses.

Like so many, maybe most, businesses, we had anxiety about the economic impact of the pandemic. We had to wonder what the domino effect would be for us as the economy slowed and was locked down. So, as a team, we took control of what we could.

We know there is still a lot of economic uncertainty tied to the pandemic. However, we feel we would be remiss if we didnโ€™t stop and acknowledge our year-to-date reality that it has been a really good year for us. For that, we are beyond grateful.

It has proven to be a good year, not simply because we took control. It has been a good year because others (new and existing clients) reached out to us as part of their plan to take control of their own businesses.

Together, we have tackled the challenges of running our respective businesses in the midst of a pandemic. We have pride in what we have accomplished together and pride for subtly giving 2020 the middle finger salute it deserves. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

We're also incredibly thankful for many other things:

  • We're thankful to have an internal team that supports and challenges one another every day.
  • We're thankful for our amazing clients who allow us to be a part of their journey as they positively impact countless employers and their employees.
  • We're thankful to be part of an industry community that shares so openly and operates with such giving hearts.

We're not alone

Whether it's over Zoom calls, emails, or social media, we are fortunate to participate in conversations every day where we get to hear of others who have found the #2020Opportunity in the midst of the #2020Challenge.

Hearing of these successes gets us excited, and we wanted others to share in that excitement. We did a LinkedIn poll to learn what the industry is most thankful for this year. LinkedIn limits the polling options to four answers, and here are how the responses broke down.

We are also providing some ideas to help you find a similar silver lining if you haven't already seen it for yourself.

Our LinkedIn poll question asked

What hidden silver-lining have you found from the disruption brought by 2020? (If yours isn't on the list, please leave it in the comments.)

Meeting new needs of clients โ€“ 29%

Wow, where to even begin with this one? The world of business owners has been turned on its head. Most have been facing challenges they have never encountered before on a scale nobody could have imagined.

Many of the challenges have to do with having employees working from home, technical issues, communication, efficiency concerns, engagement, processes, to name a few.

Depending on the business, many are challenged with decreased demand or accessibility issues because of shutdowns. Others face specifically unique challenges.

The thing here is to take off your insurance/benefits hat and put on your problem-solver hat. Have conversations as one small business owner/leader/employee to another. Your clients need someone willing to help them look at, and navigate, their situation.

Suggestion โ€“ Go to your prospects/clients and ask,

"If you could solve one problem for your business right now, what would it be?"

Sure, you may not solve the problem, but you would be shocked at how often you can help them find the solution. There is unbelievable value is in the conversation alone.

Finally embracing technology โ€“ 9%

In some ways, this can be summed up with one word: Zoom. But it doesn't end there.

Many have been forced to embrace new technology. Project management tools, such as Asana. Communication tools like Slack. Marketing automation platforms. CRMs. Agency management systems.

Technology is rarely a complete answer; it merely helps to automate solutions. Even before work-from-home became the norm, we have all been forced to be more intentional and process-driven. However, the virtual environment has forced us to automate those processes as much as possible.

Suggestion โ€“ You have already made a financial investment in technology, but you also need to invest time to learn how to use it effectively to get the ROI. Block out 15 minutes on your calendar each day committed to working in a technology platform that will help you become more proficient at your role. The consistent time spent will make the platform more comfortable and manageable, which, in turn, will lead to increased proficiency.

Sense of prospecting urgency โ€“ 18%

Perhaps nothing has been scarier in our industry. Keeping healthy pipelines has always been a challenge, but now the pandemic has brought it to a new level. Nobody wants to appear tone-deaf or insensitive. In some cases, this has brought a genuine concern and commitment to figuring it out, resulting in unbelievably healthy pipelines. In others, it has just provided a convenient excuse not to prospect.

Suggestion โ€“ Leverage the great relationships you already have with clients. Put on your big boy/girl pants and set up a call with your best clients to ask for referrals/introductions to other decision-makers. Check out our blog + video on how to prepare for and hold this referrals conversation most effectively.

Virtual selling works โ€“ 44%

I don't want to say, "We told you so." Oh, who am I kidding?! That's exactly what I want to say. ๐Ÿ˜†

We have built Q4i over the last 12 years by selling virtually. We have long encouraged producers to at least make virtual selling a part of their sales effort. Sure, face-to-face meetings provide a level of intimacy you can't get over the phone or Zoom, but there are many other benefits from at least having an initial call over video. It's less intrusive. It takes less time. It's respectful. It is a more comfortable "yes" for a prospect to give.

Suggestion โ€“ Just.give.it.a.chance!!!

What else?

We also had many friends who left comments on the post, sharing other things they were personally thankful for. I've shared a few here, and here's a link to the post to see the others and leave one of your own.

Tyler Borders | Benefits Compliance Solutions

Grateful that this industry naturally seeks collaboration for mutual benefit.

Jad Ghazal | Nasco Middle East

Thankful for all that we have, whatever we were taking for granted without realizing it.

Joey Hall | Remedy Advisors

Grateful to be surrounded by business colleagues and friends who are always willing to help when needed the most! Trying to pay them back by living each day believing where much is given, much is expected.

And, for obvious reasons, one of my personal favorites: ๐Ÿ˜‰

Craig Gussin | Retire with Renewals

I am thankful for the Q4i team friendship and for helping me to grow.

Bring on 2021

Yes, 2020 has been a year of many things that can't necessarily be described without using some adult language. But it has also been a year of lessons we will carry with us for the rest of our careersโ€”the rest of our lives, for that matter.

I am certain this is a year that will be studied for generations to come. As much as I/we have had to be thankful for this year, I am also very grateful that 2021 is just around the corner. Hopefully, weโ€™re moving in the direction of putting 2020 in the history books โ€“ a part of history not to be repeated.

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Photo by oneinchpunch.