How businesses facing pandemic upheaval are ‘seizing the opportunity’

Leadership team
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by STAND Advisors

Amid the disruption faced over the past 18 months, astute business leaders are increasingly on the lookout for “slow burn” or long-term opportunities emerging from the pandemic.

“If you’re able to foresee things and get ahead of it, you can significantly take market share from competitors,” says Robert Rudy, co-founder of management consultancy STAND Advisors. “Business owners need to make sure to take the blinders off and be brave enough to accept that change is coming.”

From capitalizing on shifts in client spending to better aligning remote teams, STAND Advisors is helping businesses embrace the mindsets and structures needed to emerge from the pandemic even stronger, armed with a sustainable structure that positions them for long-term growth.

“Some companies sat back and waited for the pandemic to subside, and now there’s a world filled with new business opportunities,” Rudy says. “The time for waiting is over.” 

The rapid change

Ashley Lawrie
Free Form Fitness CEO Ashley Lawrie

Ashley Lawrie, the CEO of Ottawa-based Free Form Fitness, is one of the business leaders that has uncovered opportunities in the rapidly changing business environment while working with STAND Advisors.

Lawrie faced a multitude of challenges over the last year, including public health restrictions, prolonged closures at her six locations and shelving the gym’s first U.S. expansion. 

“It was the first time in business where I felt completely depleted and didn’t know what to do,” says Lawrie. “But, we took a beat, we listened to our clients and evolved our services to allow us to stay operational.” 

Lawrie’s pivot to digital classes and selling take-home workout equipment kits helped the business stay afloat and maintain membership levels – momentum she is eager to maintain as restrictions are lifted and interest in personal training skyrockets. 

“Now is not the time to ease off the gas pedal,” she says.

While it can be difficult to spot opportunity when there is a rapid shift in business, Lawrie demonstrated the importance of pausing and evaluating one’s situation before making a move, says Rudy. 

Business owners often become swept up in rapid shifts and try to pivot when it doesn’t make sense to do so, which can be a costly mistake. 

Learn how to seize the opportunity

“It comes down to vision, mission and purpose,” says Rudy. “Where are we going? How are we getting there, and how do we know when we're on the right track? These are the questions business leaders need to be asking themselves.”

Rudy’s business partner, STAND co-founder Pascal St-Jean, notes that there are a  multitude of opportunities for businesses as the recent period of rapid change shifts to a “slow burn” environment. 

STAND works with its clients to capitalize on these opportunities by helping them build strong leadership teams as well as identify the resources needed to properly plan and execute on their business strategy.

“As an entrepreneur, you need to have the courage to look at the reality of the situation and see if your business is sustainable in that changing environment,” St-Jean says. “You need to find the balance between doing nothing and becoming irrelevant and jumping head-first into a new opportunity without fully thinking it through.” 

A national partnership to fuel growth

STAND Advisors has partnered with BDO Canada to support businesses and their leadership teams in overcoming their barriers to growth and performance while adapting to current market conditions.

As a well-established professional services firm, BDO is known for helping clients address their unique business challenges, providing the expertise and solutions that align to the business’ ultimate goals and objectives. BDO was a natural industry partner for the advisory firm, says STAND Advisors co-founder Pascal St-Jean.

“In order for us to scale up our business, we needed to find great advisors that understood STAND’s approach and aligned with our vision,” he says. “That’s exactly what we found in BDO.”

Using STAND Advisors’ 10 T’s scale-up framework, the two organizations will help business owners and leaders overcome common growth challenges and provide clients with the tools they need to be successful on their own.

“The STAND approach provides a growth and strategy springboard for SMBs; this is a pragmatic and accessible solution for our growth-minded clients who may be struggling to reach scale,” adds Anna Giampà, director of strategy consulting at BDO Canada LLP.

By bringing “Fortune 500-level services to local businesses,” the partnership will help companies stay at the top of their game, St-Jean says.

And, by leveraging BDO’s client-centric engagement methodology, the duo will be able to pair the right advisor with the right client, ensuring a strong and reliable partnership.

“We are excited to embark on this strategic partnership with STAND Advisors; this collaboration enables BDO to significantly enhance our service offerings to small and medium enterprises,” says Kelly Campbell, a strategy consulting partner at BDO Canada LLP.

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