2020 – My Year In Review

2020 certainly wasn’t an exciting year for me. A lot happened contrary to how it was planned. But I’m still grateful to be alive, to have friends and family around me, and to have food on the table. We have lost more than 1.8 million people to the pandemic so far and during these times if you still have your family with you thats really something to be grateful for.

Me and my family haven’t contracted the virus (yet) and I’m thankful for that.

I started the year by picking up pieces of me to restart a dropshipping business. Since dropshipping for me has been a plug and play business, it made the most sense to me to start from there. It is something I can start & stop abruptly. The business saw supply-side disruption as soon as I started it due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in China. This caused delays in shipments from China leaving unhappy users. As the operations in China started to normalize, the rest of the world started contracting the virus and hence shipping was disrupted pretty much everywhere in the world. Air-shipping became as slow as ocean-shipping while it continued to cost even more than before. Although the stores were profitable, I soon paused the campaigns due to inferior customer experience.

In February I was lucky to travel outside of Pakistan for a small vacation. I’m glad we were able to do that just in time right before the world went into the lockdown. I’m grateful for this.

When Pakistan saw it’s first COVID-19 wave and the country went into lockdown, we spent nearly 3 months at home. We stopped ordering food and started cooking at home 100% of the time. This resulted in some unsatisfied cravings which pushed us to start cooking and baking things we never usually did. We baked quite a few pizzas at home. Despite the adversity, we tried making the best of it.

I spent majority of the year making predictions and bets regarding where to invest the money. I quite suck at investing, but continue to do it despite losing money. I hope that I’ll learn something valuable before running out of funds to try things with.

In March, we saw liquidity crisis hitting all sorts of markets. US stock market crashed by over 40%, while Bitcoin crashed by up-to 70%. Soon the Fed took control, and injected 2 trillion dollars in the market, and another trillion before the year ended. The interest rates were also dropped to near 0%. This set the perfect stage for Bitcoin which I’ve been vocal about through-out the year, but even more so since the Fed decided to QE.

2020 has been the year of Bitcoin because until 2020, Bitcoin seemed like a solution looking for a problem to a large part of the world. In developed countries the state issued currencies are mostly viewed as stable, and inflation is usually lower single digit. But in Pakistan or Turkey or many other parts of the world, Bitcoin was at all time high (in Pak Rupee or Turkish Lira) long before it was at an all time high in the rest of the world. For countries where the state backed currencies are losing purchasing power quickly, and inflation is double digits or even triple digits, Bitcoin as a solution is a no-brainer. However, 2020 allowed the west to see through from this lens too. With growing supply of USD vs fixed supply of Bitcoin, it is becoming clear to a lot of people that they can no longer store their wealth in state backed currencies.

Despite being right about Bitcoin, I failed to capitalize as much as I would have liked to due to some unexpected circumstances which caused me to lose some part of my holdings. This makes me incredibly sad but I’m trying to stay positive because the future is bright. And while I know I’ll miss out big time on the kind of gains I expected, I feel given the amount of upside that’s still left for Bitcoin, every HODLer of $BTC will do just fine.

I and Saad also bought equity in a few Shopify apps in Q1. Since this was done right before the pandemic, and COVID-19 pushed the e-commerce adoption through the roof, we saw unparalleled growth and capital gains for our equity in the Shopify apps. I’m happy about this one.

I was also lucky to catch March’s dip for the stocks and happy to build some albeit small position.

I have also written quite a few extremely small checks for early stage companies in the seed round. I expect this to be extremely illiquid long-term investment, which will likely not result in substantial gains. Or even losses. I know this. But how do I learn if I don’t try. I also did this because stock market didn’t present me a long enough opportunity to build a substantial position. And as stock market quickly recovered and posted new highs, I thought to allocate some funds towards super early stage startups instead. You can be wrong majority of the times about early stage startups, but you usually do not have to worry about valuations being outrageous.

Over the last couple of years, I’m trying to transition to make 100% of the income by investing. It hasn’t worked out so well because for everything I get right, there’s one I get wrong. And so I take 1 step forward and 1 step backwards. In the end I feel I’m quite right there where I started from. But may be slightly wiser. I hope this to change. I hope to do well with investing, and I hope to become a lot more wiser. And I hope not to pay a hefty fine to do that.

I prefer investing to spending, but if I have to spend I prefer spending on intangibles compared to toys. This usually means that we like to spend a big portion of our annual budget on travel which we couldn’t do big time this year. This resulted in some additional savings which I felt like spending in the last quarter on buying things for the house. I almost became a shopping addict in the last quarter and slowly regaining sanity.

2020 has been one step forward and one step backwards for me. 2020 felt like I couldn’t move. Both, physically due to COVID-19 and professionally due to setbacks.

But I’m thankful even if I felt I couldn’t move. It is a lot better than falling down, losing a loved one, an income source, a job etc. A lot of people have gone through that (and more). Years like this present an opportunity to reflect and be grateful for everything you have. Despite being a stagnant year, I have countless blessings that continue to grow. And I want to continue to be thankful for that.

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