Taking Stock: Five Things The Last 12 Months Taught Me As A Female Entrepreneur 2020 was a hugely challenging year but, personally, in a lot of ways, the period has proved to be hugely rewarding.

By Louise Jacobson

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Looking at International Women's Day in 2020, versus now in 2021: what a difference 12 months make. I think I don't need to labor on the point that 2020 was a hugely challenging year- we all know this, and we have all felt it in one way or another. But, personally, in a lot of ways, the period has proved to be hugely rewarding- here are five things I've learnt as a female entrepreneur leading a public relations (PR) business in this time:

1. Find the opportunities The initial impact of the COVID-19 crisis was a swift and harsh one, but I was quick in taking stock, looking at our strengths and the current climate, and then identifying the opportunities. For example, we increased our visibility in the corporate and tech PR spheres, which resulted in increased revenue in those sectors. We put our innovative social media skills to good use and upped the ante on our own Brazen MENA video content, which gave us a competitive edge. It's our job as entrepreneurs to be agile, innovate, and find those opportunities even in the face of adversity- and then, just go for them!

2. Communication has never been so important for brands Sounds obvious, right? But so many brands stayed silent or didn't communicate effectively through this period. The brands that proactively showcased things like health and safety measures, or showed empathy and gave back, using the right channels, came out favorably from this crisis. In fact, 65% of consumers said how brands reacted to COVID-19 would have a huge impact on their likelihood to buy their products. As we're still in the pandemic, it's vital to ensure you have a robust communications strategy in place.

Related: A Leap Of Faith: Eight Tips For Women Transitioning From The Corporate World To The Entrepreneurship Realm

3. Do good Giving back is something I've always done personally and professionally, and in the past 12 months, I was able to take this to a new level. We took on two pro bono clients and helped them in their respective endeavors. We helped Nefsy, a UAE startup app on a mission to help feed those in need, and we also told the story of artist and philanthropist Sacha Jafri's Humanity Inspired project to the world. It felt amazing to help make a real difference- my team had a reignited passion for their craft, and it also gave us all some much-needed perspective. If you don't have a charity/corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy in your business, I would highly encourage you to find one that speaks to you.

4. Look after your tribe Making sure key personnel and talent were looked after was crucial, especially in a client services business like mine. Do whatever it takes to look after your long-standing team members, and those that have the same passion, drive, and commitment as you do. And when I say "looking after them," I don't mean that just in a financial sense. If you don't have wellbeing initiatives in place, then please get them in quickly. There are lots of resources available that companies can tap into. A mental health policy is something I've had in place for three years now, and this year, Brazen MENA will be investing in a life coach to ensure my team are fulfilled and growing in all areas of their lives.

5. Resilience is everything Resilience -or "bouncebackability," as I sometimes I call it- has to be my number one learning from the past year. Adversity and uncertainty will be here a while longer, and we need to believe in ourselves that we can get through and cope. As leaders, we need a strong, winning mindset to constantly inspire others around us. Resilience is something we can improve on, and in order to learn and grow, I would encourage you to read books and look at experts on this topic. It all starts with us, our physical and emotional wellbeing, so as well as being the amazing entrepreneur you are, don't forget that all important self-care, especially for us women who always seem to put everyone first.

Related: How Women-Led Startups Can Get Past The Challenges Of Being In A Male-Dominated Technology Ecosystem

Louise Jacobson

Managing Partner of Brazen MENA

Louise Jacobson is the Managing Partner of Brazen MENA, a MEPRA and PRCA MENA Small Consultancy of the year 2019 and 2020. She has 18 years of experience across all sectors of PR and has worked in Europe and The Middle East. Louise is a MEPRA Strategy Board member, Global Women in PR MENA member and industry awards judge.

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