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The Power of the Pivot

The Power of the Pivot

In the new age of Corona, each day we wake up with a new perspective, a new glimpse of hope, and hopefully a fresh pair of pants. Many companies have taken action overnight to use their voice for good. While words of support have warmed many hearts, seeing brands share their action-led story is making a difference and saving lives.

The future is going to look different. Large corporations like Uber and Lyft are increasingly requiring passengers and drivers to wear face masks to curb coronavirus risks. In a six-week time frame, my team and I went from fitness apparel to selling 250,000+ anti-bacterial face masks. One may not think of an activewear brand in the fight against coronavirus, but creativity is at our core.

As there are many vital considerations for startups to consider when growing their business, below are the most important lessons learned through our shift in strategy to adapt to the changing business environment during COVID-19.

[Related: The Importance of Evolving Your Personal Brand]

Be open to possibilities.

We all have a vision of what we expect the future to look like. No one has a crystal ball to see a clear image of our future three months, six months, or even twelve months from now, especially with all of the turmoil we are experiencing.

Sometimes, curveballs come our way and we must remain curious and open to new possibilities. Within 24 hours, a decision was made to use our anti-bacterial fabric for face masks. We shipped thousands of yards of our fabric from our factory in Los Angeles to manufacture them. Today, these masks are worn by healthcare providers at the forefront of COVID-19, the US Navy, and many other front line workers risking their lives in this fight.

Get in the habit of asking questions; remain curious and alert at all times. You never know who you will meet, what knowledge you will learn, or how rewarding the journey can be along the way.

Never forget how powerful your connections are.

It’s time to start cultivating your connections! Building authentic connections is based on one very important foundation - that you’re doing it based on a desire to know, appreciate, and help each other.

Being the youngest member of the Ellevate's Houston Leadership Team and surrounded by such impressive, caring women is an honor. I was proud to share our recent pivot, and within 24 hours, one of my fellow chapter leaders connected me with the Director of Supply Chain of the Navy, who was looking for PPE. Since that connection, we have provided 100,000+ face masks to the US Navy.

You can’t control when people see great opportunities, but you can make sure they think of you first. Remaining top-of-mind for someone makes it more likely they will say, “I know the perfect, most reputable person for this opportunity.” The goal is focusing on valuable, high impact interactions vs. frequent time intensive conversations.

[Related: The Secret to Maximizing Your Work Relationships]

Be prepared to scale fast.

Every business's dream is to become the next sensation. When a startup is able to adapt to a larger workload without compromising quality, performance, or revenue, it's a beautiful sight to see.

When moving quickly, the most important thing to remember is ensuring the fundamental basics are in place. Utilizing our relationships and partnerships to mobilize domestic production was a no-brainer and executed within hours. Within a week-and-a-half time frame, we went from a prototype to producing 55,000 face masks.

When growing fast, it’s important to not lose what makes you great. Working in an ever-changing environment and keeping a long-term mindset in a short-term period are vital to the success of your growth.

The most effective teams adapt to change.

Building a successful company relies on strategy and a solid cohesive team to execute. During these uncertain times, remaining adaptable and resilient with a trusted leader makes facing challenges head-on much easier. The past two years, I have been the first and only full-time employee. Nearly overnight, we went from a team of two selling activewear to a team of sixty making medical supplies.

Remote working environments are an opportunity to flex a team’s communication skills. Whether it’s scheduling a weekly team Zoom meeting to establish a sense of community or involving the entire team in a creative thinking session, I have been fortunate to learn from and report to a strong CEO.

There is a way to be the light in the darkness. For this pivot, I remain grateful. Producing masks is just one way our team is joining together to give our community what they need to feel safe and healthy. Companies have a duty to reassure their communities and take action for the better. Every day, we are adapting to a new lifestyle, and I invite you to do the same. Continue to grow, innovate, change, pivot, and be the light.

[Related: Culture Matters: How Great Startups Will Thrive in 2020]


Amanda Cotler is the Director of Operations for Accel Lifestyle, a revolutionary fitness apparel brand utilizing innovation, empowerment, and sustainability. She is part of the leadership team for Ellevate Houston, where she manages the chapter’s finances. Her passions include turning active wear into evening wear in a matter of minutes.

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