After what has felt like a very long winter, there is a real feeling of hope and optimism in the air – not least for those businesses affected by the pandemic.

With the continued easing of restrictions in Scotland, it seems a sustained opening of the economy is on the horizon.

While we still have no clarity on when we may be able to travel internationally, which is having a continued negative effect on our airports and travel industry as well as the tourism sectors which rely on foreign visitors, the early lifting of travel restrictions within Scotland last week has allowed many of us to visit family and friends sooner than expected.

And, in just a few days time, the borders to the rest of the UK will open, and our ravaged tourism and hospitality sectors will finally be able to start welcoming us back.

So, what are the key lessons that businesses and their leaders have learned during the last year?

For many, the fragility of supply chains became quickly evident, while for others it was recognising a lack of resources to see them through the toughest of times.

Everybody recognised the need to think differently coming out of this crisis. I have seen first hand the genuine concern and care so many employers have shown about their colleagues and workforce with a determination to create a better sense of wellbeing, a connection with local communities and a true sense of leadership that wants to do the right thing going forward.

While, naturally, there will have been mistakes made over the last year, what we must now do is ensure we learn from them by putting the best of ourselves out there.

In doing so, we will create a dynamic economy that supports our social wellbeing across society and will create opportunities for the many in Scotland who are so desperate to succeed.

The Government will have an important role in supporting the rebuilding of our economy – particularly in creating policies to help, rather than hinder, entrepreneurialism in Scotland.

But over and above this, creating a sense of true partnership between business and wider society will be key to sustained growth coming out of this crisis.

From the depths of despair can often come the greatest innovation and creativity.

Over the last year, there has been a reconnection with what matters most; a desire to build sustainable businesses, paired with a determination and the resilience to succeed.

We have learned that by collaborating and harnessing the skills of others alongside our own, extraordinary things can happen.

I have seen companies transform throughout this pandemic, with new businesses being born out of adversity, as well as opportunity.

The willpower of Scotland plc to succeed is unabated, and perhaps with a new degree of optimism that we can succeed where previously we have faltered.

Do we now have the confidence to scale and grow where perhaps in the past we have been too tentative?

The answer needs to be yes if we are to create new jobs and put Scotland on the map as a country harnessing and confident about its future.

The courage to lead has never been more important, from all sectors, and to create a true sense of collaboration as we rebuild and renew.

There will be challenges and setbacks, but if we have learned from this experience we can adapt, show resilience and move forward.

Aidan O’Carroll is the chairman of the Institute of Directors in Scotland