COVID's Pivoting Our Businesses, Not Rewriting Them


As many leaders are experiencing, COVID-19 continues to impact businesses, and it's likely far from over.

COVID-19 Impact on Business, Far From Over.

As many leaders are experiencing, COVID-19 continues to impact businesses, and it’s likely far from over.

COVID has not necessarily caused many of the shifts, but it has accelerated trends that were already present. The labor market, which was weakening before the pandemic, has suffered exponentially, while supply lines and the transportation industry have taken a significant hit.

The current environment has shown that it was far easier to shut things down than it has been to bring them back online. It could take two to three years to get things back on track. With these market conditions, business leaders have to be strategic with each decision placed before them and determine how aggressive they should be.

I have been asked on several occasions why our company chose to go on offense when many others chose defense during COVID. First, offense and defense are not mutually exclusive; they happen concurrently. During the first few weeks of COVID, our war room was in emergency management mode, and there was plenty of defense going on until we could get more clarity and visibility to the situation. A critical part of our game plan right out of the gate was allocating resources to consolidate, conserve and protect our vulnerabilities while seeking to mitigate risk.

Ultimately, we’ve taken a more aggressive approach, which is based on looking for opportunities, gaining momentum and filling gaps. We’ve acted with intention and pivoted quickly, identifying opportunities that would position our company well once the economy started to open back up. The default mode in our business is to run with an attitude of abundance, so while this was a natural behavior for us, our pivots have been done with precision and measurement, and this continues to be true.

Our eye continues to remain on a couple of trigger points that may influence a decision to change course. For every organization, those triggers are different, and the metrics will vary.

Organizations that will find success on the other side of COVID need to be cautiously aggressive. There are many opportunities for gain, but those opportunities require resources and investment. The investment must be calculated with a close eye on market shifts. Companies must make measured and staged investments that enable nimbleness as the market evolves.

For example, we have positioned our company to be ready for the return of the market by increasing the size of our sales team to diversify our client base. We’re also increasing our marketing budget and investing in innovation to position us as thought leaders, while also building higher-caliber teams. These shifts have positioned us for tremendous opportunities in the future.

We are in an era of business that none of us has operated in. Many of the challenges we face aren’t similar to those we faced two decades ago or even two years ago. The challenges are unprecedented, and one seemingly small, yet incorrect, pivot could have exponential implications.

So where do we go from here? The key to moving forward is to understand that we are not returning to the previous normal. We must embrace the new world, adapt to the new environment and find ways to meet the needs of the future, while keeping an eagle’s eye on the market. Then, we must make small yet aggressive pivots to find our way forward. Though we are making great strides in the recovery, we have much work to do, and many questions remain.

We may not always make the right decisions, but we never stop trying.

Donnie Brawner, Partner Colligo Holdings
CEO/Owner, Paragon 360 & Paragon Fabrication

Originally Featured in Springfield Business Journal