Get All Access for $5/mo

My Lessons From 2020: How Entrepreneurs Can Prepare For Chaos Agile and adoptive founders are drawing upon lessons learning from this tumultuous pandemic and seeking to finish the year stronger

By Bhanu Chopra

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Around 10 months back, I was sitting in my office with an established journalist for one of the biggest publications in the world, telling him about how RateGain and the travel industry is poised to conquer the next decade. Little did we know how the entire industry would shut down for over six months and look at a long recovery path.

It took me around two months to get a grip of what we were dealing with, the impact on my company, clients and even on my loved ones. However, a quick realization that hit me was to reach out to fellow founders and entrepreneurs who not only would be going through a similar patch, but have also faced crises earlier, which led to the birth of #insanelyawesome.

Agile and adoptive founders are drawing upon lessons learning from this tumultuous pandemic and seeking to finish the year stronger. Organizations witnessed industries crippling and were forced to pivot. Leaders who could adapt to the sea of changes will ultimately prevail and reach new heights.

While the list of lessons we could take ahead to 2021 are infinite, some are more crucial than others for leaders trying to manage their ship amid the turbulent waves of uncertainty

Here are the five lessons that leaders, business executives and entrepreneurs should recognize as we enter 2021.

Default mode should be "adapt

The year 2020 reminded every business owner about the importance of a vital business skill; "adaptability'. COVID-19 forced times to change, and those who aren't willing to try new things will have no way to stay afloat.

Businesses nationwide had to get creative. From adding new products to introducing new delivery methods, companies that remained viable pivoted fast and reinvented themselves quickly.

The truth is being able to adapt builds resilience. There is no way to know how long the economy continues to remain in a state of flux. Again, agility and nimbleness will help us find ways to get innovative.

When planning for 2021, don't get rigid with yourself. Ask yourself, not only how you can change the world but how can the world change around you?

Shorter goals equals to greater gains

We all have always heard, aim for the long term and build for your vision. These lessons are still valid but what the pandemic has taught us is to keep building short-term goals to maximize your gains in the long term.

Now is the perfect time to reconsider your priorities and goals. Revisit and adjust your long-term and short-term goals. The key is to adjust your focus where it is needed the most.

After all, setting and achieving smaller goals along the way will help you stay motivated to reach bigger long-term goals.

Remember to identify smaller achievable actions and more defined tasks. When broken down into daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly attainable practices, they comprehensively result in achieving the overall goal.

Chances are, you may occasionally get derailed from the smaller tasks or expectations. A well-rounded schedule will energize and sustain you. In addition, take time to strengthen your physical and mental well-being. An invaluable way to push yourself to achieve these goals is by staying healthy and balanced.

Hire defenders, not conquerors

A lot of folks are now looking to startup as they quit their full time job, or see a new business opportunity thanks to the new normal, and a critical element in this is building the right team. Building a team that is passionate to drive results can consists of builders of both kinds defenders and conquerors.

In a conversation Yashish Dahiya of, he spoke about how he hired a person who would not let the ball get past him in a game of basketball. For me that person is a defender, one who will stay with the company and work to fix the challenges, rather than drive success and move on. The foundation of startups will depend on how many defenders you hire, because they build to last and strengthen the core of any company.

The new model of teamwork, emerging as a result of the pandemic will focus on trust, shared goals, common good and belonging in the coming months. As founders adapt to the accelerating pace of disruption, they will have to empower teams and employees that got suddenly and unexpectedly dispersed.

To attract and retain the best team members, leaders need to develop mechanisms of a shared sense of purpose, focus and goals. One challenge for teams that have moved to work from home is the diminishing sense of belonging. Going ahead, to hire and retain the best talent, effective leaders embody empathy, humanity, inclusion and connection.

A few questions that could go a long way in helping the employees during this difficult time are: What is on your mind right now? What are the most important personal and career-related goals for you? Do you have everything that you need to work smoothly from home? If not, how can I help you?

Embrace failure and run with it

Somewhere during 2019, I lost my cadence on running but in 2020, a lot of my colleagues, friends took back to sports with a vengeance, and this encouraged me to be regular as well which is when I realized sports and entrepreneurship are similar on multiple fronts.

A remarkable quality of training and succeeding as an athlete and founder is to embrace failure, learn and move on. Surely, there will be ideas that do not materialize. That leads to emotional and physical fatigue from being accountable to employees, investors and customers. The learning from multiple failures is to never give up. You will always have limitations. Rather than stressing about what went wrong, figure out the reasons and deal with them. Every time you hit a roadblock, embrace your shortcomings, cut your losses, acknowledge them and move on.

Lastly, don't forget to stay cheerful and have fun throughout the journey.

The best sportspeople and leaders believe in a dream. They are tenacious, work hard, self-disciplined and are persistent to achieve this vision.

The 5Ps of the new normal

In almost every industry, purchasing decisions are at an all-time low. Thriving in chaos, when the ecosystem is in flux requires leaders who can unlock value. Amid this temporary pause, leaders should focus and invest in the 5 Ps–people, product, progress, passion and persistence.

Use this time to brainstorm, strategize and prepare for the next year when customers will start purchasing again. The universal truth is, the market will eventually rebound. At that time, the need for innovative and better products will drive demand. The best products, companies and technologies catch up to the new customer psychology.

The beginning of 2021 is a blank slate, you have the right tools, the vision and the foresight to make it big, all you need to start doing is put the pencil to the paper and start realizing your goals in the new normal.

Bhanu Chopra

Founder & Chairman


Academic Excellence Is Not Necessary for Success in Life: Hear from the Founder of this Exciting New Digital Education Platform.

Many educational platforms are emerging these days to help people qualify for various types of entrance examinations. But what about the students who don't want to take the traditional path, the ones who don't rank among the top 10 in the classroom yet still aim high in life?


India Needs Homegrown Product Companies In Semiconductor: Cadence Design's India MD

Most multinationals retain product ownership, key value and intellectual property at their headquarters. As a result, India, despite having a vast pool of design talent, lacks significant Indian product companies in the semiconductor industry, says Jaswinder Ahuja, MD, India Cadence Design Systems.

News and Trends

99labels Co-Founder Ishita Swarup Passes Away

Just two years into the business, it raised INR 16 crore from Info Edge and Bikhchandani, but it didn't go well

Growing a Business

3 Branding Strategies That Will Make Any Brand Stand Out

Here's how to differentiate your brand in three essential steps — understanding your unique selling proposition, leveraging storytelling, and valuing feedback.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.