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This past year of challenge has been a period where fortunes have been made and fortunes have been lost. The way business leaders and entrepreneurs met the challenge of COVID differentiated greatly with some preferring to sit back and wait for “normal” to return, while others pushed forward, infusing new and sometimes disruptive strategies.

And in this time, the most important lesson, for both good and bad, is that we can’t go back to normal because ‘normal’ was our problem.

Business will never again operate in the manner it did in 2019. The COVID pandemic has shown us just how fractured and unprepared we were for any deviation from the status quo.

Long periods of shutdown, disruptions in our supply chains, wide-spread economic duress, and the work-from-home model have been the grey raincloud following us for the last year.

Companies spent millions on connectivity and the supporting security infrastructures and are they highly unlikely to undo it all to bring employees back to a physical workspace once we receive the ‘all clear’.

Productivity has stabilized and, in many cases, grown. Overheads are down, with companies realizing that they do not need global satellite offices or 14 floors of a high-rise in a costly urban center when we can all connect instantly via technology.

Consumer habits have changed, with people now tolerating the limited opportunity to shop in a physical marketplace or dine in a local restaurant or pub. We are adapting. We are improvising. We are transitioning. And most importantly, we are finding new and profitable ways forward.

The businesses who’ve chosen to swim against the competitive current, casting aside their legacy business models, are the ones who are leading the way into this pivotal era of innovation.

These business changemakers are the architects of a model of business that functions on the assumption that the way we do business today may be drastically different than the way we do business tomorrow. And that is not metaphorically speaking either…literally the way we do business TOMORROW may be a complete upending of today’s strategy. But how do we manage this?

How do we mitigate the damage caused by unexpected shutdowns and how do we find a way forward allowing us to do business in a way that no one else is so that we can have opportunities that no one else has?

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Larisa B. Miller

CEO, Phoenix Global LLC / Exec Vice President, STP Capital Award-winning International Keynote Speaker / Exec Director, Global Chamber of Business Leaders