Hindsight: What Business Owners Wish They Would Have Done Differently

They say hindsight is 20-20. If you only would have known. As a business owner, you may already have a few things you wish you knew. Would you have hired that one person? Perhaps you would have started your company sooner. While it is important to look back, reflect and learn from these decisions, it is also important to realize that, when you are at the end of your business ownership, your wishes may be much different.

What Do Owners Reflect On?

There are many things business owners wish they would have done differently. Here are some common themes that seem to come to light.

Getting Help Sooner

Many business owners start out with a desire to build a company from the ground up on their own. It may be admirable, but it may not be exactly what helped your business to thrive. Instead, many business owners realize that if they could do it again that they would have hired on more help sooner. Some would have turned to a mentor sooner. They would have networked with other business owners more readily to pull them into their company.

They Would Have Done More Locally

It goes without saying that every business relies on its community to grow and thrive. Even online companies still need to hire from a local talent pool and build their business with the support of local suppliers. But, not all companies give back. Giving back to the community does not have to be a challenge – doing simple things on a routine basis can help to make a big difference in the community. You don’t want to be on your deathbed and wishing you would have done more.

Getting Rid of the Problems

It’s quite common for businesses, especially those starting out and looking for solid footing, to actually make the move to get rid of employees that do not fit the mold. However, we know today from our workplace culture that it’s important to create a sense of culture, respect, and dependability. Some business wonders wish they would have taken a problem employee into the office and let them go long before they did damage.

The Risk Question

Many business owners wonder about risk. For some, taking on too much risk is just too much of a worry. For others, it is all about not taking enough. When you are there, at the end of your life, you’ll want to have taken that risk and experienced perhaps not only the thrill of the ride but also the struggles.

As you work to build your business, reach out. Embrace the community. Support each other. Provide mentorship opportunities. By taking these steps, you can solidify your business model now and learn from the mistakes and wishes of those business owners that came before you. It may be exactly what you need to push your business forward that extra level.

Early Closure of Businesses Order Rescinded: Effective Monday, January 25th

Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito announced today changes to various advisories and executive orders pertaining to COVID-19 and reopening:

1.Stay at Home Advisory Rescinded: Effective Monday, January 25th at 5:00am, the DPH Stay at Home Advisory for the hours of 10pm – 5am is rescinded.

2.Early Closure of Businesses Order Rescinded: Effective Monday, January 25th at 5:00am, the Mandatory Early Closure of Businesses Order requiring certain businesses to close by 9:30pm will be rescinded. On Monday, January 25th at 5:00am, the following businesses and activities listed below may operate past 9:30pm:

·    Restaurants

·    Arcades & Other Indoor & Outdoor Recreation (Phase 3, Step 1 businesses only)

·    Indoor and Outdoor Events

·    Movie Theaters and Outdoor Performance Venues

·    Drive-In Movie Theaters

·    Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Activities

·    Golf Facilities

·    Recreational Boating and Boating Businesses (e.g. charter boats)

·    Outdoor Recreational Experiences

·    Casinos and Horse Tracks/Simulcast Facilities

·    Driving and Flight Schools

·    Zoos, Botanical Gardens, Wildlife Reserves, Nature Centers

·    Close Contact Personal Services (e.g. hair and nail salons)

·    Museums/Cultural & Historical Facilities/Guided Tours

·    Gyms/Fitness Centers and Health Clubs

·    Indoor and Outdoor Pools

 

*Gatherings may go beyond 9:30pm

*Liquor stores and other retail establishments that sell alcohol may sell alcohol past 9:30pm; adult use cannabis retailers may also sell cannabis after 9:30pm

*Note – Phase 3, Step 2 businesses must remain fully closed

3.Temporary Capacity and Gathering Limits Extended: The 25% temporary capacity and gathering limits remain in place until 5:00 AM on Monday February 8th.

 

You can find further information on www.mass.gov/reopening.

Should I hire or outsource?

Deciding between hiring in-house talent or outsourcing the job can be a tough call to make, and both options have their benefits and drawbacks. Here are some things to consider when choosing between the two recruitment options.

Why Independent Contractors Make Sense

It’s easy to understand the draw that outsourcing certain tasks has for business owners.

First of all, while you should work closely with an independent contractor, there are no employee-related expenses; no training costs, health care, vacation time, or sick leave.

Additionally, in many cases, you will be working with and benefiting from the experience and insight of a team of specialists, rather than a single worker.

Outsourcing may also spare you business expenses. For example, perhaps you are interested in making some promotional and informational videos for your website. You could invest in expensive equipment, along with hiring someone with the proper know-how, or you could outsource the job to a video production company that already has the knowledge, experience, and the equipment.

Finally, outsourcing certain tasks can free you and your workers up to focus on the core areas of your business without pouring time and effort into peripheral tasks.

Making the Call

While outsourcing can be a good thing, it also has its drawbacks. Your project may not receive the focus it deserves, you lose a little bit of control over the timeframe, and you have less control over the quality of the finished product. Before deciding whether to outsource a task or operation, consider these questions.

Is it a Business-Critical Function?

Generally, anything that relates directly to the operation of your business should be handled in-house. For example, for some businesses, their social media marketing strategy is an essential part of their competitive advantage. In this case, a social media manager should likely be an in-house hire who shares your goals and vision for marketing campaigns.

However, duties like payroll, bookkeeping, and administrative tasks, though they don’t relate directly to the vision of your business, tend to take a significant toll on overall productivity. Outsourcing these tasks, rather than hiring in-house, makes sense for most businesses.

What Is Your Budget?

There may be a significant cost difference between a trained employee and an independent contractor. Oftentimes, if you’re shooting a single promotional video or you want to create an app, outsourcing the job may make the most sense because it will spare your business the expense of investing in expensive equipment and providing highly specialized training. On the other hand, independent contractors may charge a relatively high daily rate, making outsourcing less than ideal for long-term projects.

What Is Your Time Frame?

If you have a skills gap that needs to be filled quickly, then outsourcing makes sense. Rather than taking the time to go through the hiring and training process, you can hire an experienced professional who can hit the ground running.

In the end, whether or not you choose to outsource hinges on your timeframe for project completion, budgetary considerations, and how it will impact the efficiency and goals of your business. Using these as guidelines will help you choose the recruitment option that is right for your business.

Mass. Home Sales Hit 16-Year High During Pandemic

Article Source: State House News Service
Article By: Colin A. Young

Sales Surged After Lockdown in Second Quarter

JAN. 19, 2021…..More single-family homes were sold last year in Massachusetts than in any other year since 2004, despite a once-in-a-century pandemic that threatened the financial security of thousands of residents and dramatically changed the process of buying and selling a home.

There were 61,469 single-family home sales in 2020 – a 3.9 percent increase over the sales total of 2019, according to The Warren Group. The median sale price for those homes climbed 11.4 percent from 2019 to hit $445,500 last year.

“In the wake of the first COVID-19 lockdown way back in March, single-family home sales took a nosedive for the entire second quarter,” Warren Group CEO Tim Warren said. “If you told me back then that by the end of the year that the total number of sales would surpass 2019, there’s no way I would have believed you … yet here we are. Another record-setting year in the books for Massachusetts real estate.”

Warren said an unprecedented December helped to boost the 2020 totals. December 2020 saw 6,410 single-family home sales in Massachusetts — the most ever recorded for the month and up 28.6 percent from December 2019. The median sale price for the month jumped 14.4 percent to $455,000, an all-time high for the month and the sixth consecutive month with a median sale price greater than $450,000, Warren said.

“The hot market has continued right into December, four straight months of sales gains of 25 percent or more,” driven by low interest rates and people spending more time at home. “The more time they spend at home, the more they think about the home and some ask what they want to change,” he said on The Warren Group’s podcast.

Almost everyone who sold or purchased a home in 2020 probably had to deal with COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures in one way or another. Packed spring open houses gave way to virtual showings and eventually to tightly-scheduled and timed windows for prospective buyers to tour homes for sale.

But despite the new hurdles COVID-19 imposes on buying or selling a home, the virus and its accompanying shift towards remote work helped to fuel a migration away from cities and towards “vacation” areas in Massachusetts like Cape Cod and the Berkshires, Warren said.

He said that he expects the housing market will “continue to sell well” in 2021 but saw a concerning trend emerge at the end of 2020.

“The one thing I worry about is the rapidly-rising median price across the state,” Warren said. “For six straight years, we saw a very good market but with restrained growth in price — just two to five percent. The tail end of 2020 saw huge changes and prices rose by 14 percent or more for five straight months. For the year as a whole, prices rose 11.4 percent. I consider that to be unsustainable.”

He added, “I hope we see the market cool and consolidate its gains before we create a bubble in prices as we did in 2005. The collapse of the market in 2006 and beyond was very painful.”

Gov. Charlie Baker last week signed an economic development bill that included a housing production measure anchored to local zoning changes, and another initiative designed to boost housing near MBTA stations.

State House News Service Weekly Roundup: Double Smog Dare

Article Source: State House News Service
Article By: Matt Murphy

Double Smog Dare

JAN. 15, 2021…..The risks were known, or should have been.

The longer the Legislature waited to finalize its negotiations over major climate, jobs and infrastructure bills, the more power they relinquished to Gov. Charlie Baker. Discussions had been ongoing since the summer, and now all legislators could do was wait.

What would he sign? What wouldn’t he?

Knowing they had no recourse either way, legislators held their breath this week as they waited for Baker to render his verdicts on scores of bills that landed on his desk in the final days and hours of the last legislative session. And those verdicts came in bunches.

Beer distribution and campus sexual violence prevention bills got signed, as did one creating a commission to study whether to change the state’s seal. A bill known as “Laura’s Law” to ensure no one ever gets lost looking for the entrance to an emergency room also earned the governor’s signature.

And the bulk of a $626 million economic development bill was basically guaranteed to become law, given the governor’s authority to keep what he liked and veto sections he didn’t. That bill included long sought zoning reforms, known as “Housing Choice,” to spur development and requirements for multi-family zoning around MBTA stations. It also turned Sen. Eric Lesser’s student borrowers bill of rights into law.

But the climate legislation was a take-it-or-leave-it proposition for the governor, and by Tuesday the chatter coming from people with feelers into the administration suggested Baker was ready to leave it.

House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka tried to call Baker’s bluff. Go ahead, they said. Veto the bill, and we’ll send it right back to you in a matter of days.

The two Democratic leaders issued a joint statement saying as much, hoping the governor and the stakeholders whispering in his ear would see that resistance was futile. It was a rare public flexing of power for legislative Democrats who typically prefer to maintain the veneer of cooperation with the executive branch.

The only problem was there apparently wasn’t enough bipartisan cooperation in drafting the bill, and Baker wasn’t bluffing. In fact, the governor said he found the Legislature’s willingness to get right back to work on climate legislation encouraging. And so on Thursday, the formal veto arrived.

Baker supports the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and, by his own words, was “largely in agreement” with many of the bill’s provisions. But Baker listened to the construction industry when they told him allowing cities and towns to adopt a “net-zero” building code could stop housing production in its tracks.

He said the 5 percent difference between his administration’s goal for emission reductions by 2030 (45 percent) and Legislature’s (50 percent) was a $6 billion choice for residents that he didn’t want to make. And he said lawmakers missed an opportunity to make money available for climate adaptation, as he and the House tried to do with competing plans to spend $1 billion over ten years. Both plans went nowhere in the Senate.

Baker is now being cast by activists and Democrats in the role of anti-environment Republican who caved to immediate business interests at the expense of future generations. Some groups, however, privately commiserate with the administration’s frustration that it was actually the Democrats who control the Legislature who waited until so late in the session to get him a bill that he couldn’t seek to amend.

“If he doesn’t sign this, the Legislature owns part of this failure,” one environmental advocate said earlier in the week.

But if Democrats are as serious as Mariano and Spilka say they are, this bill still could be law by the end of the month with or without Baker. In fact, it could be on his desk again by the time you are reading this column next Friday.

Passing the climate bill, or any other bill, next week would require at least some lawmakers and staff to return to the State House amid warnings from the FBI and other federal law enforcement that state capitals in all 50 states could be a target for violence in the coming week.

The fallout from the attack on the U.S. Capitol continues as President-elect Joe Biden prepares for his inauguration next Wednesday, and the House this week impeached President Donald Trump for the second time in his four years in office, this time for inciting violence by spreading unproven claims about election fraud.

All nine members of the Massachusetts delegation voted for impeachment, including U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who cast her vote from quarantine after her husband contracted COVID-19 during the siege of the Capitol.

Baker repeatedly stated this week that there were no known threats in Massachusetts to the State House or any other government target, but law enforcement agencies remain in constant contact as Jan. 20 draws closer.

Baker signed orders Thursday activating 1,000 members of the National Guard, deploying 500 to Washington, D.C. to assist with security for the inauguration and putting another 500 on standby in Massachusetts should any city or town request backup.

The Massachusetts presence in D.C. may help to make Mayor Marty Walsh feel a bit more at home. He did, after all, promise to bring Boston with him to Washington as he prepares to join the Biden administration.

Walsh gave what was surely not the “State of the City” address he might have been planning just a few weeks ago on Tuesday night. Instead of laying out an ambitious agenda for his reelection year, Walsh gave a valedictory that nearly brought the Dorchester native to tears.

Walsh’s timeline for leaving the city and City Hall remains to be seen, but the City Council is already debating whether to do away with a special election requirement should he resign before March 5.

Regardless of when the next election is to replace Walsh as mayor, Rep. Aaron Michlewitz and Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins both said this week the race would take place without them.

Michlewitz said he came to the conclusion that he can best serve the city perched atop the House budget-writing Ways and Means Committee, where he hopes to and likely will remain under Speaker Mariano. Possible future speaker, it turns out, had a nicer ring to it than mayoral hopeful.

The North End Democrat will soon have to get to work on building a new state budget, and the Legislature agreed with the administration on Friday to an estimate of revenues in fiscal year 2022 of $30.12 billion, a 3.5 percent increase from what officials expect to collect this year.

The budgeting exercise will also be made a little easier by the more than $9 billion Massachusetts expects to receive from the most recent federal stimulus package, though two-thirds of that will be doled out in the form of unemployment assistance and direct cash payments to taxpayers.

The MBTA expects to see about $250 million to $300 million in stimulus support, but only $17 million will be put toward restoring services cut to deal with declines in ridership because of the pandemic.

T officials say the priority for restoration will be high-ridership bus routes and maintaining evening commuter rail service, while the rest of the money will go into the capital budget.

Maybe they’ll be able to run trains to Foxborough where Baker announced this week that the state would be setting up its first mass vaccination site at Gillette Stadium.

The home of the New England Patriots will open next week for first responders to get the vaccine, and eventually to the general public as more cohorts become eligible for vaccination.

How Your Local Businesses Can Compete with Amazon

Amazon is the largest online store and hosts products from some of the biggest brands in the world. They are also known for large inventories and discounts, so competing based on price can be a tall order for local startups. Interestingly, about 50% of the products you encounter at Amazon in the United States are listed by small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) and not Amazon itself. So is Amazon a competitor, or is it a marketplace?

In addition to setting up your business on Amazon, there are several ways a local business can compete and establish its market. Here are five:

Offering Personalized Services

Local businesses have the advantage of offering one-on-one customized services, something that’s not available for Amazon customers. As a small business, you can focus on customer support to learn more about your clients and customize your services to their needs. There are various ways to create an impression of personalized services, from greeting customers by their names and following up on big sales to analyzing each feedback.

Introduce A Loyalty Plan

A loyalty program is designed to reward repeat customers and a perfect way to get repeat business income. If you lack one, you should create a loyalty program that allows regular customers to receive personalized treatment, discounts and better offers. Make sure your customers learn about the loyalty program during their first visit or interaction with your business. Amazon has deals and redeemable points, shipping discounts and other incentives, so make sure your loyalty program is attractive enough to retain customers.

Increase Brand Awareness and Online Presence

To become successful, people need to know about your business, so it is vital to work on the brand. Invest in SEO, set up your website and get on Amazon if your business model can align with the store. Make sure you optimize the business for local customers and take advantage of social media marketing. Increasing brand presence locally will provide the perfect canvas for exploring markets beyond the borders.

Market for Mobile

Most people start their searches online through their mobile phones and modern devices. In recent times, mobile games, operating systems and other applications have become a platform for advertising. Companies like Amazon market for everyone, especially mobile users. However, as a local business, you have the advantage of knowing and understanding your immediate customers. You know the right language to use for marketing and platforms local communities use to access information. Mobile devices also offer a chance to connect offline shopping experiences.

Set Up Your Amazon Business

Amazon boasts the inherent advantages of a global brand and is essentially a marketplace where customers can find any product. As a local business, you can take advantage of the existing logistics frameworks and reputation to list your products on the platform. Local customers that prefer to shop from Amazon will still be able to find your products and business. However, this requires meeting all Amazon requirements and optimizing your business to appear at the top of both Amazon and Google search results.

Amazon relies on small and medium businesses (like yours) in all categories and, in 2019, the number of SMB accounts in the US Amazon store increased by 133% to 1.1 million. For local businesses, the challenge is to create more perks and personalized services while leveraging social media, mobile marketing and local SEO.

North Central Mass Development Corp Provides Funding to Two Businesses

The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation (NCMDC) approved two loans totaling $30,000 to 290 Auto Body Inc. and American Transport.

290 Auto Body Inc., owned and operated by Justin E Forkuo on 1 Stowell Ave in Worcester, is an auto body collision repair shop that specializes in all aspects of vehicle services. They offer dent and scratch repair, insurance claim handling, collision or/and mechanical work.  Their loan for $20,000 was used as working capital to continue operating during the pandemic. For more information visit their website at www.290autobody.com.

American Transport received a $10,000 working capital loan due to the coronavirus pandemic disruption. James Belletete started a full-service auto transport focused on delivering fast and reliable vehicle transport solutions between New England and Florida in 2008 and is now a license Auto Broker/Carrier allowing delivery to all 50 states. For more information visit their website at www.newenglandtoflorida.com.

As a microloan lender, NCMDC can provide loans to small businesses up to $150,000 for working capital, equipment, inventory, expansion and working with our banking partners to provide gap financing for the final piece of a project.

 

About the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation

The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation (NCMDC) is a non-profit economic development corporation with the mission of creating jobs and improving the economy. NCMDC is certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the U.S. Department of the Treasury under the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Program. The NCMDC works in partnership with local banks, credit unions, chambers of commerce and area nonprofits to support emerging microenterprises, small businesses, and community projects in 76 communities in Worcester, Middlesex and Franklin Counties with loans and business assistance.  Since 1996, the NCMDC has granted over $8,000,000 in loans to small businesses to help grow jobs and the economy in the region.

For more information about the NCMDC loan programs, please call 978.353.7607 or visit ChooseNorthCentral.com.

Document Your Processes to Turn Your Hustle into a Business

If you are a freelancer, you live by your wits and your talent, which can lead to an exhilarating feeling of self-satisfaction. However, being a solopreneur has its risks and if you get sick or cannot work, you have no sick days or vacation time to rely on for backup income. So, maybe it’s time to branch out and turn your hustle into a business.

By documenting your processes, you can outsource portions of your business, increase productivity and bring home more revenue for less effort. Follow these tips to document what you do, so you can hire other people to help you grow your operations.

What Is Process Documentation?

Process documentation provides a description and instructions on how to carry out business processes. Examples of process documentation include the following:

  • tutorials
  • forms
  • policies
  • checklists
  • screenshots
  • step-by-step instructions
  • process maps

Process documentation helps you onboard employees or virtual assistants to conduct your freelance activities.

Process Steps

Here are the first steps of documenting processes to help you get started:

  • Process Name: Choose a descriptive name of the process you’re documenting. You may find it helpful to start on a whiteboard or flipchart.
  • Process Scope: Choose a logical start and endpoint of the process. If you have several stages or products, for example, you can document each one separately to make it easier to complete your documentation in small sections.
  • Process Outputs: This identifies the end result of the process. For example, if you are documenting a freelance process, the end result is a product or service ready to deliver to the client. Examples include crafts sold online or social media management services you provide to clients.
  • Process Inputs: Identify all materials needed to perform the process. For example, you will need boxes, packing material, scissors and labels to prepare products for shipping. If you are updating a client’s website, for another example, you will need internet access, software, development tools and content.
  • Process Activities: Write down or video record all the activities involved in completing the process. Examples of process activities include:
    • Sign paperwork
    • Approve request
    • Ship product
    • Notify user

You can use sticky notes and a tabletop to visualize this and provide flexibility during the organization stage.

  • Process Organization: Organize all the activities that you brainstormed into logical categories. At this time, you may want to break the items up into separate processes. Within each process, put the process flow into order. Add key decision points and possible outcomes to develop a complete picture of the process.
  • Process Review: Look at the process flow to determine whether you have left any steps out.
  • Process Roles: Assign roles representing who will complete each activity step.
  • Transcribe Process: Use swim lane flowcharting to create a visual workflow diagram.
  • Final Review: Determine which activities and roles you can outsource for each activity.

If you conduct your freelance work online, documenting each process helps you prepare job descriptions and outsource different activities that involve digital delivery. One of the most efficient ways to begin is by recording yourself on video performing the work you want to outsource. Consider downloading a screen-recording software like TechSmith Capture (Mac or Windows).

When you document your business processes, you make it possible to grow your freelance hustle into a business that can grow beyond just your own capacity.

Member Spotlight: Heywood Hospital’s Extraordinary Commitment to Their Patients

In some ways, Heywood Hospital is a traditional hospital providing emergency care, surgeries and inpatient care.

Heywood is a non-profit community-owned hospital licensed for 134 bed hospital, located in Gardner. The medical staff includes 200 active, courtesy, and consulting physicians in primary care and a multitude of specialties.

But what makes the hospital unique is its commitment to ensuring the health of the community in and outside its walls, said Winfield Brown, president and chief executive officer of Heywood Healthcare. 

“It goes beyond doctor’s appointments, tests and procedures,’’ Brown said. “We focus on the social determinants of health and how do we set up our communities to be more healthy. What are we doing for kids, what are the things getting in the way of health care access and looking at the most vulnerable.’’

Dawn Casavant, vice president of external affairs and philanthropy, said Heywood has programs that meet people where they are – at school or a community setting, for example.

“What makes us unique is the level of community partnerships and collaborations we have to address the needs that are often unmet and prevalent in our community,’’ Casavant said. 

Some of those needs address childhood trauma, food insecurity or behavioral health, she said. 

The hospital itself also has a special program to address needs specific to North Central Massachusetts such as an inpatient psychiatric unit and a geriatric psychiatric unit. 

And of course the hospital is dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, treating patients and providing free testing. In November 2020, the hospital tested 6,600 individuals. On average the hospital has been testing 200 people a day seven days a week by appointment only. 

The pandemic has also led to an increase in the need for behavioral health and addiction services, they said. And it’s also created a need to remind the community to maintain regular preventative care such as mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations and well-child visits. 

Looking toward the future, the hospital will continue to expand its primary and specialty care into the community but will also be making improvements on campus. 

The hospital is in the midst of two major projects – one that will make the hospital more energy efficient and another that will improve its surgical space. The project calls for six new operating rooms, which will provide state-of-the-art equipment and the space to accommodate growth in areas such as orthopedics, general surgery, gastroenterology, plastics, geriatrics and weight loss surgery.

Brown said the hospital takes great prides in its focus on quality and safety. 

Heywood Hospital was named to Newsweek’s 2020 list of Best Maternity Care Hospitals. 

Heywood also recently received ‘A’ in the fall 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, a distinction recognizing its achievements protecting patients from harm and providing safer health care.

“This should reassure the community that we provide exceptional care close to home,’’ Brown said. 

Heywood Hospital is part of Heywood Healthcare, an independent community-owned healthcare system dedicated to providing quality healthcare services to the residents of North Central Massachusetts. It also includes Athol Hospital, Heywood Medical Group, Heywood Rehabilitation Center, Murdock School-based Health Center, The Quabbin Retreat, and the Winchendon Health Center. 

Heywood Hospital is located at 242 Green St. in Gardner. It can be reached at 978.632.3420 and www.Heywood.org. 

State House News Service Weekly Roundup

Article Source: State House News Service
Article By: Matt Murphy

Out with the Old, In with the Older

JAN. 8, 2021…..All-nighters aren’t just for college kids anymore.

Despite everyone’s most fervent wishes, simply watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve Thursday didn’t end the madness of 2020. And midnight wound up looking like an early bedtime for the week that was about to unfold.

The first full week of 2021 started innocently enough.

On Sunday night, MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons eked out a victory by three votes over Rep. Shawn Dooley to maintain control of the state party, and legislative negotiators announced they had struck a deal on a climate change bill to set a statewide target of net-zero emissions by 2050 and to authorize even more offshore wind.

But by the end of the week, democracy was under attack, 12 more days of the Trump administration was being talked about like too great a risk to take, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was checking Amtrak schedules to D.C., and the promise of the COVID-19 vaccine was getting showered by the cold reality of continued viral spread.

Welcome to 2021.

In another sign of the way COVID-19 has impacted major events over the past year, the Senate swore in a group of senators Wednesday in Ashburton Park outside the State House. [Sam Doran/SHNS]

The Legislature came to work Monday and passed the climate bill, set a special election date to replace former Speaker Robert DeLeo on March 30 and went home around dinner time to prepare for the last day of session.

It was always going to be a long night on Tuesday, with major economic development and transportation financing legislation still up in the air. But it’s unlikely anyone had 4:34 a.m. in their virtual office pool as the time the final gavel would fall.

Not even five extra months to finish their work could help lawmakers save themselves from the last-minute rush, and though they went home tired, they also went home having accomplished most of the big ticket items on their to-do list.

The House and Senate managed to send to Gov. Charlie Baker a $16.5 billion transportation bond bill that the governor said was needed to access federal funding and get ready for the spring construction season. They also agreed to a $626 million jobs bill full of grant and loan programs to help small businesses, restaurants, artists and other industries crushed by the pandemic.

The notable piece missing from the economic development bill was a House-backed plan to legalize sports betting in Massachusetts.

Gov. Baker supports the idea. He even filed his own bill this session. But Speaker Ron Mariano said he didn’t have a dance partner in the Senate, where leaders would not entertain the idea of tacking the gambling expansion onto the jobs bill, or debate it separately.

“If we could, we’d have a deal,” Mariano told Bloomberg radio Tuesday evening. Mariano said he wants to come back to the issue early this year.

By the time everyone’s head hit the pillow, the Legislature had also passed campus sexual assault prevention and craft beer distribution bills, approved of a commission to examine changing the state seal and sent Baker a bill intended to reduce racial inequities in maternal health.

The one piece that pulled up lame before it got to the finish line was a cap on unemployment insurance rate increases in 2021, but there’s still time for the Legislature to do that before first quarter bills come due. In fact, it might just give the new Legislature something to vote on to start the new session.

The hardest thing to do Wednesday should have been getting out of bed. But on a day when new and returning lawmakers took their oaths to start a new session on Beacon Hill and Senate President Karen Spilka and Mariano were reelected to their leadership posts, riots stoked by the president of the United States on Twitter erupted on Capitol Hill.

A mob, fueled by unproven claims of election fraud repeated by the president and his allies, broke into the Capitol. They were intent on disrupting the certification by Congress of the Electoral College vote that would give President-elect Joe Biden the victory.

But Congress returned to work that night and certified the Electoral College vote at around 3:45 a.m.

The fact that Congress fulfilled its Constitutional obligation despite the chaos of the day was the one bright spot, according to Gov. Baker, who the next day said he was sickened by what he watched on TV.

Baker, a Republican, joined the chorus of Democrats, including every member of Congress from Massachusetts, in calling for Trump to be removed from office. No more waiting until Jan. 20 for President-elect Joe Biden to be inaugurated. Let Vice President Mike Pence oversee the transition, the governor said.

Trump’s future hangs in the balance, but as he prepares to leave Washington, Mayor Walsh is ready to move in.

People around City Hall and the mayor have been downplaying the Walsh-to-Washington speculation for weeks, insisting that the mayor was gearing up for reelection and maybe not even interested in a Biden administration post.

Maybe that’s exactly what people tell reporters to throw them off the scent. Or maybe they didn’t think it would happen, at the end of the day. But it did.

Biden officially introduced Walsh as his nominee for labor secretary on Friday, after joking a day earlier amid reports that Walsh had been chosen that he was still looking for an Irishman to round out his Cabinet.

Needless to say, Walsh’s decision to trade the Charles for the Potomac has completely upended the race for mayor. City Council President Kim Janey is now preparing to become the first Black woman mayor in the city’s history, and Councilors Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell – who were already running for mayor – are preparing for company on the trail.

Janey will be watched closely for signals that she might get in the race, while Councilor Annissa Essaibi George is now taking a look. The off-cycle municipal election also means that State House denizens could have a free run at the seat if they want it, and the North End’s Aaron Michlewitz, who chaired the House Ways and Means Committee last session, is kicking the tires, according to sources.

Reports also suggest that the South End’s Rep. Jon Santiago and others are also thinking about it.

While it will take some time for the mayoral chess game to play out, COVID-19 is still here. Right now.

Gov. Baker this week announced that business restrictions put in place on Dec. 26, including 25 percent capacity limits in many businesses, would be extended at least two weeks until Jan. 24, and new pool testing would be made available to K-12 school students and personnel.

The administration is also ready to give hospitals facing capacity constraints leeway from nurse staffing-level mandates in ICUs to free up more beds. Hospitalizations are up 145 percent since Thanksgiving.

Vaccines already deployed in hospitals and nursing homes will become available to first responders beginning Monday, when another week begins.

But until then, in the words of Speaker Mariano, who was caught on a hot mic as he gaveled the first session of the 192nd General Court to a close, let’s “get the hell outta here.”