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Was 2021 the comeback year you expected it to be? After learning how to adapt from the massive setbacks of 2020, entrepreneurs were ready to leave it behind and start this year with positive outlooks. So, how well did they do? What effects did the economy have on businesses and what will it look like in the future? Our GREY Cohort collaborated with us to answer these questions and share the life lessons they learned in 2021.

Goals Met in 2021

We asked our pool of entrepreneurs if they met the goals they set for 2021. Last year 54.5% said they did. This year an overwhelming 85.7% said they met the goals they set for their businesses. This is great news considering the lasting effects the pandemic has had on society the past two years. With vaccines now widely available and several safety precautions in place, there’s hope productivity will boost in the new year.

What life lesson did you learn in 2021?

George Chunkau Mui, Founder of Global Consultant United
George Chunkau Mui, Founder of Global Consultant United

Virtual settings provide a better platform to expand outreach beyond local communities. However, the one-on-one in person interactions are still the best way to build trust and lasting relationships. We need to learn to be better at both in the current environment.

George Chunkau Mui, Founder of Global Consultant United

Remote Work and Productivity in 2022

Remote work was once only available to a select few, but is almost inevitable now for every industry that is not hands-on or considered an essential business. While it is understandable that employers would assume work productivity would decrease with remote work, according to Quantum Workplace, The Federal Reserve Economic Data actually found that productivity increased during the pandemic. 83% of employers also said the shift to remote work was successful for their company. In spite of this, entrepreneurs are almost split down the middle on whether or not they find remote work productive.

The same report from Quantum Workplace says 30 percent of employees consider themselves hybrid employees and 35 percent worked remotely in 2021. 57.1% of entrepreneurs say their entire team will work remotely in 2022. Our data suggests remote work opportunities are here to stay.

What life lesson did you learn in 2021?

RaShaun Brown, Cofounder & CEO of KCR Group

The life lesson that I learned this year was to stay persistent. You don’t know who is watching and what is being said behind closed doors. Your breakthrough could be dependent on your consistency.

RaShaun Brown, Cofounder & CEO of KCR Group

Areas for Investment

Knowing which areas to invest in for your business can put you ahead of the competition and overcome unseen obstacles. In 2022, 28.6% of entrepreneurs are investing in new product innovation. Automation and operation, branding and marketing, and sales and marketing are all tied at 14.3%. With no plans to further invest in finance and fundraising, HR and recruiting, or IT and infrastructure, the data suggests entrepreneurs are secure with the size and scope of their businesses.

What life lesson did you learn in 2021?

Vanessa Abron, Founder of Agency Abron

The life lesson I learned in 2021 is that hustle needs a break. As founders, we certainly embody the hustle mindset to thrive and grow our companies. However, resting, self-care, time with family and friends, and enjoying activities outside of your business are equally imperative. Your business can’t thrive if you aren’t well and burnt out. Rest. Take care of yourself. It’s okay, and your business will be better because you did.

Vanessa Abron, Founder of Agency Abron

Economic Business Influence in 2021

Before the economic shutdown in response to the pandemic last year, the U.S. had experienced the longest economic growth period between June 2009 and March 2020. Despite the shutdown,45.5% of our cohort said the economy positively influenced their business in 2020 while only 27.3% said it was negative. This year, unfortunately, only 14.3% said it was positive. 42.9% said the economy negatively influenced their business in 2021 while 42.9% were neutral.

It seems it will take a bit longer for the economy to recover from the effects of the pandemic. However, 57.1% of entrepreneurs are optimistic about how 2022 will affect their businesses.

What life lesson did you learn in 2021?

Odile Roujol, Founding Partner Fab Co-Creation Studio Ventures
Odile Roujol, Founding Partner Fab Co-Creation Studio Ventures

We have seen valuations going crazy (as a lot of money came to VCs in late stage in the COVID period). More than ever we bet on founders, and they choose us as we add skills to the table.

What I also learned in 2021 is to build long-term trust relationships and believe in the pay it forward culture!

Odile Roujol, Founding Partner Fab Co-Creation Studio Ventures.

Odile Roujol, Founding Partner Fab Co-Creation Studio Ventures

How State Taxes Influence Businesses

With certain states offering incentives for entrepreneurs to launch their startups, Texas is fast becoming a tech hub. Austin, for example, offers “a percentage of wage reimbursement and up to 50% property tax reimbursement.” The state also does not have an income tax. These incentives can greatly lower the expenses tied to starting a business in Texas. We asked our entrepreneurs if state taxes influence where they locate their business and 28.6% said very much while 57.1% said not at all. With more millennials flocking to Texas, this number can drastically change in 2022.

So what life lessons did entrepreneurs learn in 2021? While the economy is yet to fully recover, remote work has made many people more productive and grateful for increased family time. Self-care is also a growing priority, as entrepreneurs have more flexibility on when they want to work and when they want to relax. Above all, it’s important to remain consistent and pay it forward in the new year.

What life lessons did you learn in 2021? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.