2021 is finally here. A brand new year comes with great expectations, but first, let’s reflect on 2020. Was it really as bad as the media made it out to be? We’ll give you an impression of what the year was like for us, by looking at what helped us double our revenue, and giving some startup predictions for 2021.

2020 in a nutshell

It’s an understatement to say that we struggled at the start of 2020. It’s probably also something that a lot of startups can relate to. Especially since we did not see a catastrophic event coming. We were also a bit lost and had to find our way back to structure and strategy. But who didn’t at the beginning of this year, when corona came to town. 

We started the year with a brand new design for our website, and changed the design later, with the help of Scout Digital, to fit in with our new strategy.

Why change our website so many times? Well, any startup has difficulties in the starting phase. It’s never a straight line towards the end goal. And even though Squads has been around since 2013, we still need to make improvements in our strategy to connect with our target audience. 

At the end of the Summer, we started working with Kyara Smit. She helped us gain more insights into our brand. We reinvented our mission, vision, and strategy altogether. It was definitely refreshing to get an outside perspective. Especially, since Kyara knows a lot about strategic brand building.

Although at the beginning of the year we made a lot of changes, still a lot needs to be done in 2021. It’s something that continues to grow. As our company grows, so does our course change, to meet our new business goals. 

Good news for us, because of our clear strategy, we broke our revenue goals for the second month in a row. With our new focus, we’ve achieved steady growth. However, it’s always hard to attribute success to specific factors, so we continue to refine the details of our entire funnel, but the underlying strategy seems to work. 

Our learnings

It’s not always easy to find out where customers and suppliers come from, but we’ve managed to focus on communication with our developers, the client, and other external parties.  

We’ve not changed that much in our external communications, but we know that it’s wise to keep looking for things to improve. Because companies change over time and with that the direction on the way to result. At the start of the year, we did have a mission, vision, and strategy, however, we didn’t focus on it the entire time, so it became routine. 

What work is really important?

Looking at what we achieved in 2020, we had an important breakthrough by using the Eisenhower matrix. This also helped us with our focus. Which included scheduling more important tasks and reducing crisis management.  

The years prior to 2020 – 2018, and 2019 – we were decluttering more. In 2020 we came to the point that we could reduce the amount of urgent work and schedule more of the important things. This is mainly done through automation. For example, the importance of test- and deployment automation has been mentioned in a lot of our articles. 

The reason is summed up well in the Eisenhower matrix. When being proactive in increasing the focus on important non-urgent things, you’ll see as a result that achieving goals becomes easier. But how do you know what’s important? Well, that was the point where we found out that our mission, vision, strategy were not aligned enough. So the most important thing in 2020 was to fix that, and we did. 

Apply more creativity in the work

Apart from doing strategically important work proactively. There’s also the need to get things done in collaboration. Following the advice of Y-combinator founder Paul Graham we try to stick to maker schedules as much as possible. This means that (also in line with the Eisenhower matrix) we schedule creative work, and we schedule thinking time. 

There are certain tasks that need a deadline, and others that can only be done with the help of others. For example, if you’re going to drink coffee at home, you need to buy it first, then make it. Your agenda will fill itself with all these redundant activities when you have all these little decisions. It’s, therefore, the challenge to have as few of those activities as possible on your agenda. 

Our goals for 2021

Our 2020 existed out of rebalancing our management and maker schedule. The years before that we decluttered a lot. Those were also the years in which we decided to reintegrate StarterSquad into Squads and focus on that. 

Our goal for this year is to grow the company and create a strategy that can be managed by many instead of one. Already great steps have been taken in that direction. For instance by automating certain parts of the funnel. With that, we created more room for creativity. 

Startups predictions for 2021

It will come as no surprise that cryptocurrency and the blockchain are becoming more important. The classical banking and legal industry have been showing their inability to create a fair and efficient ecosystem for young people and companies to thrive in. Because of that crypto has become a viable alternative. In this decade, we will see a shift away from the system also from the general public. A very interesting time where questions like ‘how do we legalize a contract’ or ‘where do I get a loan’ will get a plethora of unconventional answers. 

We’ve also seen a trend in people that fire their employees, because of reduced revenue, but still have plenty of work to do. So they come to us for help, because we offer them the flexibility to hire a remote software team.

The post-pandemic society is a perfect ecosystem for remote flex-work, but the question of how to ensure the fair treatment of employees/contractors and improve their retention is not answered by most freelancing platforms. We have our foot firmly in that door, but a lot of work still remains to be done.

In terms of consumer market trends, we see more and more startups around sustainability. It has become clear to the general public that the industrial way to produce goods and foodstuff is never going to be sustainable in its current form. Local production, through 3d-printing or artisans, and nature inclusive agriculture or pixel farming are firmly on the rise. 

In these uncertain times, the best bets are to diversify your investments, work from home, buy local, and grow your own food. 

If you’re interested in working with the flexibility of a remote team? Don’t hesitate to contact us!