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2020: best forgotten? Why it’s actually the year we really need to remember

It’s tempting to just pretend that 2020 never happened. For many of us, our businesses have been hit hard and we want to move on from the stress and plan for a brighter 2021. I absolutely advocate an optimism and a focused eye on the horizon but I also think we would be mis-guided if we didn’t take the time to reflect on what we’ve learnt and what we’ve achieved in 2020.

For us, the first three months of 2020 was largely one of unbridled excitement and optimism. We had big plans to grow the groups and the Opendoorz team but by the end of March we were thinking somewhat differently!

As we wrote in our blog at the time, ‘The announcement of lockdown in the UK was, to be quite frank, a moment of sickening terror for myself and Cathy. Our ENTIRE business model is built on regular face to face meetings, where business owners and directors build relationships, develop professionally and exchange business opportunities in a structured format. No small part of which is down to a good chat over a drink in the bar afterwards!’

When I think back to that time now, I can still feel that creeping sense of panic. What the hell were we going to do?!

Of course, what we did was pour a stiff drink, pull on our ‘big girl pants’ and took to Zoom to figure out a plan. And that’s what we did. We shifted our entire business model online in a matter of days and over the course of a couple of weeks refined it.

I am incredibly proud of what we achieved during that first lockdown. 80 members across 7 Opendoorz groups in Oxfordshire and Berkshire, plus a similar number of guests all happily and successfully developing connections, building relationships and growing their personal development ONLINE.

In fact, it was during that first lockdown that we broke the Opendoorz record for the largest single piece of business given by Justin Rhodes of Chris Lewis Smart Homes to Liz Sparrow, from Ridge – a whopping £250,000! Our August blog was full of great stories of collaboration from members across all groups.

We’d originally assumed that all our previous plans and ambitions for Opendoorz were on hold during 2020 but buoyed by the success of our members and the online model we sat down and looked at our original business plan which set out some ambitious growth targets. Could we? Dare we? We decided that we could, actually that we should, shoot for those goals. So, despite the strangest of times and the unplanned but quickly implemented detour into an online business model, we ploughed on with our plans and grew the number of Opendoorz Associate Directors from 2 to 4.

It was such a thrill to welcome Anneli Thompson of Sandler Training and Phil Saville of CIS to our Opendoorz family as Associate Directors of the Cotswolds and Trinity groups respectively. They joined Jon Ellard, Ellard Outloud, and Sebastian Brown, Key Property Investors, to work alongside myself and Cathy as Directors. We wrote about the benefits the Associate Directors bring to their Opendoorz groups in our blog.

So, what have we learned from 2020 and was it worth the pain?

We’ve discovered that Cathy and I are definitely NOT too old to learn new tricks and are now pretty much dab hands at Zoom! We’ve also learned that it takes more than a pandemic to shift Opendoorz away from its basic principle of building relationships and creating opportunities so that businesses can succeed. That’s not to say we don’t miss the face-to-face meetings! If anything, this has proven that there is still no substitute for meeting in person. Although there are huge benefits to the way we are doing things now and elements that will definitely survive this blasted year – such as Zoom Insights.

I think the real lessons though have been the ones we’ve learned about how Cathy and I work together and the strength of the Opendoorz team. We’ve also seen how supportive the whole Opendoorz network is. We created the forum but it’s the members who’ve stepped up and continue to bring energy, passion and commitment to every meeting.

I’m sure 2021 will see us returning to more face-to-face meetings and those all-important social events (gosh how we’ve missed those!) and I say ‘bring it on!’ but I won’t forget 2020.

It’ll always have a special place in my memory as the year that asked tough questions of us and we were able to answer each and every one of them.

How will you remember 2020? What lessons have you learned and how will you use that to grow moving forward? A good place to start might be joining us at an Opendoorz guest event. Get in touch – we’d love to welcome you along.


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