Prince Charming, or Ugly Stepmother. Which sums up your year?
Published: December 21, 2020

It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to pantos. Bawdy innuendos, corny jokes, strange costumes, and lots of shouting from the audience (if there happens to be an audience). It probably seems a world away from your business. But is it? We’ve decided to take some of the classic panto characters and ask – which one best sum up your year?

You do all of the hard work and get none of the credit. Sound familiar? There are thousands of businesses that could audition for the role of Cinders. It’s been incredibly hard year at the coal face, or the hearth, depending on how far you want to take the analogy. And, like Cinders, you’re continually asking – what have I done to deserve this?


Many have found their Prince Charming in the shape of Rishi Sunak. Others are still waiting. Some are probably convinced that there is no Prince Charming, and that the situation will remain very ugly.

But although Cinderella’s story starts off badly, she triumphs in the end. She never gives up, never stops working, and when her opportunity arrives in the shape of a size four glass slipper, she grasps it with both hands. That could be you one day.

Ugly Stepmother.

Has your performance this year earned cheers or boos? You may feel bitter and angry at others right now. You may also be jealous, and not without good reason. You may have done things you don’t feel proud of. But just because you’ve been dealt a bad hand, it’s no excuse for bad behaviour.

If you feel your business is in the Ugly Sister category, it could be time for a re-think. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of catcalls from customers. Many businesses have behaved poorly in 2020, taking money they shouldn’t, not talking to their customers or staff in a decent way, complaining when they had no good reason to, taking advantage of others.

That’s not good for anyone. As 2021 fast approaches, there’s no better time to change your business model, and change your behaviour. Customers, investors, staff, are looking at how their bosses behave like never before. Could be time for a role change.

Prince Charming.

You’re the business with the smart unform, the nice smile, the head-turning good looks. But something’s missing. The partner that will make your life complete. Now may be a good time to look at joint ventures and partnerships. No-one scales their business on their own. Everyone needs some outside help at some point.

There will be business in your arena, that can complement you, that will help you increase your customer base, that will enable you to do something positive to excite your team, as well as investors, that will energise you. It costs nothing to talk to them.

Time to see who’ll fill that empty glass slipper.

The Baron.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s the right thing to do. Which was the case with Cinderella’s Dad, the Baron. A good person, who finds himself in a bad situation.

The same can happen in business. What can you do to help make the right decision? To steal from another panto, look in the mirror. Ask that person looking back at you what they really want to do both with their business and their life. Only by being one hundred per cent honest with your purpose and values can you be sure of the happy ending you’re looking for.

Fairy Godmother.

Many businesses don’t just want to succeed, they want to do good. Now is a great time to look at your purpose and ask – why am I doing this? What can my business do beyond increasing sales? What do I want my legacy to be?

Making money and doing good needn’t work against each other. Bill Gates is just one example of entrepreneurs whose aim is to be both successful and to give back. Many others are following in his path.

As the year ends, it’s worth thinking about what sort of business you want in 2021. There are no magic wands, but you can give your customers what they want, keep investors happy, and help create a better society.

A mouse.

Perhaps you’ve been a little quiet this year. Hardly surprising. The pandemic has been incredibly tough, and some have decided to hunker down and wait for it to end. While this is an option, it’s not a good one. The businesses that have performed best in 2020 are those that have been pro-active. They’ve been inventive, finding new ways to attract customers and keep going. They have adopted new ways of working. They have been on the front foot.

Of course, some sectors like hospitality, travel and tourism have had a torrid time. But hiding away in a mousehole isn’t going to solve anything. Looking at your business model, keeping the dialogue going with staff and customers, searching for new opportunities, preparing for when markets once again pick up, are all ways to be less mouse-like and more successful.

Unfortunately, unlike panto, this year hasn’t been very funny. It’s been difficult for many, with levels of uncertainty never seen before. But we believe that with the right strategy, the right people around you, and the right approach to helping your community and the environment, you can one day look back at the pandemic year of 2020 and tell the world – “it’s behind you.”