The other day I heard great news from a former boss I had reported to over ten years ago. She reached out to share she had received a job offer from someone I had introduced her to just a couple weeks prior.
After congratulating her, I asked how the non-profit she founded in early 2020 was going (I had invested some time to help her make strategic branding decisions). She replied, “No. Thanks to the pandemic, that small business dried up along with the small business clients.”
I was floored.
Given my experience coaching numerous small businesses on how to navigate the pandemic, I knew firsthand that many who could adapt actually thrived in 2020.
One digital agency I advise actually saw their largest growth ever in 2020 due to the long list of small businesses that needed expertise. Beyond that, it was as if she completely lost her passion and drive to help expand small business’ digital presence – in arguably the most pivotal year for small businesses to focus on digital in history!
A quote came to mind, which I had recently reheard a family member reference over the holidays:
“Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it…. It’s just easier if you do.” – Byron Katie
To make matters worse, this kind of retreat (and more broadly, mindset) can orient decision-making to miss growth opportunities in terrifying ways, in part due to the fact that when others are fearful there can ironically be fantastic windows for expansion.
In an interview between serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and real estate mogul (and Shark Tank star) Barbara Corcoran on January 11, 2021, she shared a success story from a franchise food truck business invested via the tank called Cousins Maine Lobster:
“The moment COVID hit he turned his business around (through) contactless pickup, communicating where his trucks are going to be and he moved his trucks out of the normal places that were crowded and he utilized every single large shopping mall parking lot – gave people numbers, they waited in line, picked up (and) they went home with their dinner out and his increase in sales went through the roof within a month and a half. Pretty sharp, but he understood he needed to go where the customer was comfortable being.”
She also referenced Comfy, her most successful Shark Tank investment to date, whom had a formidable number of products returned back to them from big box retailers as a result of COVID closures.
They refocused on digital, revamping a website they “hadn’t taken as seriously as before and they turned $150 million dollars in sales into $250 million dollars in sales. They went to where the customer wanted to be, that’s exactly what they did.”
“You need to be an entrepreneur that thrives on change. I mean if you don’t welcome change and look for it, seek it out like a missile – like what’s next, what’s next, like a kid with a curiosity box…you’re not gonna be ready for the changes out there. I mean change for me is happening probably twice the rate it would four years ago and if you’re not aware that today is the single best opportunity you’re ever going to see again for the next 10 years of taking over your competitors marketplace…
“…because you can outperform, out-create, out do whatever you have to do to get rid of that guy, this is the time to do it. The best time to move ahead is always in the worst times. Any smart entrepreneur will tell you they moved ahead in the worst times. Because the big guys are asleep at the wheel.”
Barbara Corcoran pictures the Cousins Maine Lobster founders, Daymond John and Mr. Wonderful: