CEO Insider

Adapting and Thriving in Turbulent Times

As a professional services firm, we’re on the front lines with our clients as they seek ways to adapt, remain flexible, and achieve success in today’s business environment.

CEOs and other business leaders often turn to their core advisors during times of economic turbulence. Our clients need us now more than ever as they battle to sustain their businesses, retain employees and navigate unforeseen circumstances brought about by the pandemic.

We know some companies will emerge stronger, while others falter. A company’s adaptability and agility, implemented from the top down, will determine long-term success.

Leaders that can adapt quickly to evolving circumstances and take advantage of new opportunities, especially during down times, are more likely to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world.

As a leader, here are some key insights to consider:

Be adaptable. When faced with challenges, leaders cannot put their heads in the sand, operating as if nothing has changed. Strong leaders are resourceful, finding innovative ways to operate. They find new ways to position their products and services, while also managing a changed workforce. These leaders are evolving and embracing different methods—such as pivoting to digital marketing, which has helped many organizations remain visible and accessible to their customers.

Be opportunistic. Strong leaders know the game has changed, and they now have opportunities unavailable during the previous 10 years. Don’t be so conservative that you miss out.

In the early stages of the pandemic, business leaders focused on stabilization. They had to position companies to succeed through the worst times, avoiding decisions that could jeopardize their future. That may have meant saying “no” to deals that stretched the company too far, inviting risk. If the current stage of recovery is stabilization, it helps to focus on short-term success rather than long-term goals.

Many CEOs have pushed through the stabilization period, looking to outpace competitors and exit this stage stronger. This is the time when successful business leaders review business plans through a different lens. They understand long-term conditions have changed and they’re developing resourceful ways to adapt business models to an altered landscape. They strive for agility, taking advantage of new opportunities that position them for future success.

This may mean hiring quality talent, smart investments, developing new products or services, changing distribution channels, or bringing in resources unavailable in better times.

In our industry, we’ve seen firms take the opposite approach. They’ve contracted amidst the pandemic, maintaining the status quo, while waiting for the economy to bounce back. They’ve laid off staff and reduced expenditures without committing to any new business lines or investments made available as a result of this crisis. This is short sighted, and history reveals some of the best opportunities arise in down economies.

Take advantage of all available resources. The government has provided many lifelines through the CARES Act and other programs designed to help companies of every size. While educating clients on various tax opportunities and loan options under these programs, we also remind them of other available resources, such as their professional networks. Right now, people are helping one another, seeking and offering valuable advice on innovation. Strong leaders are leveraging these professional networks, finding new ways to support their customers and uncover additional revenue streams. They’re also maximizing digital marketing tools and communication technologies.

Provide value. At Weaver, we believe in showing up, delivering insights and being the capable, friendly resource our clients can rely upon. Great leaders know how critical it is to dig in and deliver for our customers—becoming indispensable through genuine interest and a strong desire to weather tough times together.

We’ve focused on meeting our clients where they are and supporting them where they need us. Internally, we’re communicating across industry teams on best practices and shared experiences, highlighting successful approaches to challenges our clients face.

For example, a large restaurant group asked about issues related to employees, leases and other matters facing the hospitality industry. When presented to other groups within the firm, these questions drove us to work together, comparing notes and identifying innovative solutions for our client to consider.

Communicate. As CEO, I encourage constant communication with our clients, but even more so with our internal team members. My partners and I want Weaver to be a source of strength and camaraderie for our people during tough times.

This year has been particularly challenging, and leaders should be communicating with their teams often. At Weaver, we’ve kept communications consistent and transparent. Our communications started with a complete financial health check, which we update monthly. We’ve also connected with our remote workforce regularly, providing support, tips on staying healthy during the pandemic and more. In addition, we continue encouraging our people to be there for each other, as we work to overcome individual challenges in the current environment. This includes working remotely, parenting and working simultaneously, supporting their children’s virtual learning, and talking through feelings like fear, isolation, etc.

Generating new business, maintaining financial stability or increasing profits, and keeping your business afloat can be challenging in good times, but even more so now. These days, there are no traditional working hours. You have to be available 24-7 to handle crises and provide stability and direction. This is a great opportunity to build trust and show your willingness to work side-by-side with your customers and employees to manage through this difficult time.

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John Mackel, CPA
John Mackel, CPA, has nearly 20 years of experience in public accounting and currently serves as Weaver’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner. John began his career with a Big Four firm and, over the years, has dedicated his practice to providing high-quality audit, attestation and advisory services, primarily in the oil and gas, renewable energy and investment management sectors. John is an active member of numerous industry associations, helping him remain on the forefront of industry and regulatory changes. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Sam Houston State University. John Mackel is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.