One thing we learned this year is that 2020 was all about seeing how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. Even if Rocky’s words of inspiration have been a bit overused lately, they still ring true. No one could have predicted how this year was going to turn out, yet many businesses have persevered even in the face of a pandemic. To see just exactly how the entrepreneur world has fared, we pooled together our GREY Cohort from all over the country to give us their insights. Here are the 5 key takeaways from our 2020 GREY Cohort survey.

1) Goals Met in 2020

We asked our GREY Cohort if they met the goals they set for themselves in 2020. Despite everything that occurred this year, over half answered yes. 45.5% unfortunately did not, but it’s important to remember that some things are largely out of our control. The end of the year is a time to reflect and plan for what can be done differently in the new year.

GREY Cohort 2020 survey
GREY Cohort 2020 survey

2) Best Areas for Investment

Next up are the best areas for investment. Last year, 30% of our cohort stated they would like to invest more in automation and operation for their businesses. This was a wise choice considering social distancing forced us to adapt to virtual interactions in 2020. In 2021, new product innovation seems to be the hottest trend, which is interesting considering it was at the bottom of the list in our 2019 survey. Branding/ marketing tied with finance/ fundraising at 18.2% while sales/ marketing and automation/ operation tied at 9.1%.

GREY Cohort 2020 survey
GREY Cohort 2020 survey

3) Economic Business Influence 2020

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the U.S. economy had been expanding gradually since June 2009. This expansion ended abruptly in March 2020 due to the economic shutdown in response to pandemic regulations. This nearly eleven-year span is the longest economic growth period on record and possibly could have continued rising upward had the pandemic not occurred. However, in spite of the shutdown, 45.5% of our cohort said the economy still positively influenced their business in 2020. 27.3% said it was negative, while 27.3% were neutral.

GREY Cohort 2020 survey
GREY Cohort 2020 survey

4) Economic Business Influence 2021

When we look at the data gathered from The Conference Board, we see that the U.S. has partially rebounded from the economic shutdown during the first half of 2020. It is still too early to predict how 2021 will look, since many factors have yet to come into play, such as availability of COVID-19 vaccines, the amount and timing of any additional stimulus checks, and even how the presidential transition will affect consumer and business confidence. Interestingly, The Conference Board has mapped out three possible scenarios the economy can take, which can be seen here. Reflectively, our cohort is evenly optimistic and neutral about the 2021 economy at 45.5% while 9.1% remain pessimistic.

GREY Cohort 2020 survey
GREY Cohort 2020 survey

5) Expanding Staff in 2021

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the U.S. unemployment rate is steadily decreasing and currently sits at 6.7%. When lockdowns first began in March, the unemployment rate jumped from 3.2% in February to a whopping 14.7% in April. As 2020 comes to an end and businesses begin to reopen, an overwhelming 90.9% of our GREY Cohort plans to hire additional staff in 2021. This is great news for job seekers and is a positive reminder that the business world is set to recover in 2021.

GREY Cohort 2020 survey
GREY Cohort 2020 survey

What’s the Takeaway?

2020 was a rough year, but that did not stop many entrepreneurs from pursuing their goals. If you wish to launch your own startup in the new year, our survey shows that it is possible as long as you stay optimistic. And if you are currently struggling, there is an entire entrepreneur community that is toughing it out. To get a bit of inspiration, check out our #GREYgang profiles.

Thank you to our GREY Cohort for participating is this survey! Stay tuned because there is much more to come from them in 2021. Happy New Year!

Have any thoughts or questions for our 2020 GREY Cohort? Leave us a comment down below.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.