While none of the problems created in 2020 magically went away with the arrival of the new year, it does provide us with an opportunity to embrace a new energy and attitude. Things are certainly rough, but there are reasons to be optimistic and motivated, as well.
Vaccines on the way
Covid-19 is still a problem. As I warned back in April, we’re going to be in various states of lockdown and disruption through at least November of 2021.
Vaccines were developed a little quicker than initially projected, but we’re still facing production and distribution shortfalls that indicate another 6 to 12 months before things start to look “normal” again.
Overall, I’d say we’re more than half way through, and the hardest parts are in the past. We’ve started to adapt a little bit to wearing masks, limiting contact, and spending more time outdoors.
Pent up demand
While things have been tough for restaurants, entertainment venues, and other live events, there’s also a massive amount of saved up demand ready to go. People want to go to bars, concerts, and out to eat again! And when they feel it is safe to do so, they will do it in numbers that bring profitability back to the industries hit hardest. This may not help every owner who took the hit up front, it will provide many opportunities for new entrepreneurs and ancillary businesses who provide equipment, expertise, and marketing.
We can also expect that the unemployment situation will improve as business reopens and Democrats get serious about economic policy. So if you’re waiting for the ad market to recover from Covid, know that we’re not there yet – but we’re on the way!
New business options
There are also a lot of efficiencies and innovations that we’ve seen in the last year. Work from home is much more common and natural than it used to be. Many websites have adopted or improved their online presence to include sales and delivery. People are also more open to buying digital entertainment experiences like livestream passes or full ticket price for a new streaming movie. These upgrades will start to pay dividends going forward.
New political leadership
America is also looking forward to new political leadership, with a large number of voters expressing optimism about Biden’s incoming administration. Fears of divided government were also recently reduced with the upset victory of both Democratic Senators in the Georgia special election, and that means we have a united government that can pass significant stimulus to aid the economy.
Tech and antitrust
Consolidation has become a big problem for internet entrepreneurs. If you’re not at the top of Twitter, Google, Facebook, or Amazon, it can be hard to find much of an audience at all. While some would call this the natural outcome of market competition, others would say that monopolistic behaviors aren’t good for markets. There seems to be an increased appetite for Congress to tackle difficult issues related to the growth and consolidation of tech firms, and measures designed to increase competition will only be good news for smaller players.
Jobs and green tech
We’re also likely to see an explosion of publicly funded jobs – especially in green technology. This means new employment opportunities and rising wage pressure for all sorts of technology workers.
Not everyone is happy with the political results, and a small group is acting extremely upset. But Americans don’t seem to have much patience left for drama and these political tantrums are meeting with a swift backlash in public opinion. Between the pandemic, and global warming, and economic disruption, nature has provided us enough things to worry about without having to invent new political crises on top. Frankly, people just seem to be sick of the pettiness and bickering, and they’re looking forward to competent leadership again.
Even when the vaccine fully rolls out, things still won’t be like they were in 2019. They’re going to be even better.
While the past year has been tough, and the near term future looks just as rough, there has also been a lot of technological, emotional, and intellectual progress this year.
Those changes will be with us longer than the pandemic, and ultimately they are changes for the better. We can look forward to increased utilization of technology, reductions in travel requirements, and a general impatience with foolishness. Combined with competent leadership and a country that is ready to get back to work, you can almost start to make out the light at the end of this dark tunnel!