When the pandemic hit, businesses didn’t know how to respond. Many adopted a wait and see approach hoping it will blow over. Others started planning to downsize, expecting the worst. Yet others pivoted from their current business models to models that would support the change. Gyms and yoga classes created digital versions with Zoom calls for clients requiring some activity while at home.

In the crises, I would always share stories with friends about companies clearly benefiting from (or benefitting in) the crisis. There are always winners in every game even though some games technically end in a draw. In a draw, one side needed the win more and so technically they lost the match even though they achieved a draw. So while I will be discussing the winners of the pandemic season at a later date, I want to speak to a general thread linking many of these winners: waiting.  

It’s all about the ability to wait or the inability to.

How do we wait in business?

It begins with cash reserves. How deep are your pockets when a crisis hits? That depth will enable you to be dynamic in your response. Waiting is the ability to delay rushing any decision because you do not have to. Waiting is to remain calculative when others are despondent and frantic. Waiting is what allows some to wait for the right moment to pull the trigger while others would have had to react to immediate pressures.

Businessman opening a paper
Photo by Adeolu Eletu

An Example from Row Vigor.

Founded by Fola Awosika, Moses McCall and Kevin Allen in February 2016, Row Vigor had a lot of promise but for 4 years they struggled with securing investments from Venture Capitalists. Finally, their break came in 2020.

Just as the pandemic hit, their indoor fitness app was in demand and it was growing. However, there was a problem. Moses McCall, their developer, had moved on. He had struggled with family issues and needed to start a regular job to survive. Fola and Kevin had run out of funds and couldn't hire another developer to continue from where Moses had left off. They also couldn’t sustain the company through this season of opportunity. They couldn’t wait! They just couldn’t. They watched the opportunity brought by the pandemic pass them by because they couldn't innovate when they needed to.

There will always be some other recession triggers. This economic crisis was brought on by a pandemic, the next may be brought on by something else. Businesses and individuals will find themselves in similar situations in the future and their ability to wait will be called into question.

How long can you wait in the heat of a crisis while thinking straight and objectively?

To wait you will need some emotional stability but that won't be enough if your pockets are dry. You need both.