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The Gift of COVID19


For many reasons 2020 is a year that we’re never going to forget, but it’s not all bad news. There’s something happening which makes me excited, even though it’s not making front page news.

First, a somewhat safe prediction: Ten years from now, we’ll be looking back at Covid19 as the biggest catalyst for digital transformation since the internet was invented.

Almost overnight, huge numbers of the global workforce were suddenly working from home – an almost utopian dream which had been loftily predicted and vaguely promised for at least two decades, by everybody and nobody – but hadn’t actually happened.

It’s early days and it will take time for companies to understand how to make the best out of remote working, instead of sitting 8 hours a day in sub-optimal video calls, but the genie is out of the bottle and won’t be going back in.

Second, another prediction for ten years from now: We will look back at Covid19 as the tipping point where business stopped following the capitalist rules of growth at all costs in order to maximise shareholder value.

Instead, we’ll be focussed on business that makes a profit, but not at the cost of people and planet. That concept in itself isn’t entirely new. Ben&Jerry’s started with this mindset back in 1978, and the growth of like-minded Patagonia is incredible. Despite this history, it hasn’t yet broken into the mainstream – but it’s about to.

The biggest gift that Corona has given us, whether we wanted it or not, was time.

Time to think, time to feel, time to experience a different way of life. We’ve already changed our work, travel, and spending habits – and that’s all going to have an impact on how we do business. The old normal isn’t coming back, and I, for one, am grateful for that.

In 2030, generation Z will be fully installed in the workforce and have considerable spending power. You can bet that they will not be working for, or buying from, businesses which are bad for the world – no matter how big or small.

The clock is now ticking – I believe that companies have fewer than ten years to adapt their business and prove that they have a right to exist. Or go bankrupt. The good news is that we are living in exciting times where it is finally possible to do good for the world and make a profit at the same time.

The internet has made young, small and medium business a powerful force to be reckoned with. If you don’t have significant investment debt and unreasonable shareholder expectations, you have freedom. There are enough new business models out there, there are enough people who want to see and support a different future. There aren’t any excuses left. We just have to make that decision and do it, and if we don’t, we will only have ourselves to blame.

Whether you’ve already started to orient your business towards making positive impact, or are looking to start, here’s a few relevant events:

ImpactFest 2020: October 27, 28 & 29
Billed as “Europe’s biggest impact meetup” their program has a mixture of online and offline content spread across three days. Tickets are just €20 or €10 for Startups.

ImpactLab Open Series: October 1, 6, 13, 20 & 27
Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship is the dedicated centre for social entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford and is hosting a series of online events covering Impact Leadership, Impact Investing and Story Telling for Impact. Tickets are free.

Meaning Conference 2021: 11 November – Brighton, UK – CANCELED
One of the flagship events for the industry, running for eight years already, Meaning Conference connects and inspires the people who believe in better business. Tickets are €295 or €245 if your company has fewer than 25 employees.


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