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How to Pivot: A Quick Look At What Some Inspired Businesses Are Doing to Thrive Amid Covid-19

“A person can make himself happy, or miserable, regardless of what is actually happening “outside,” just by changing the contents of consciousness. We all know individuals who can transform hopeless situations into challenges to be overcome, just through the force of their personalities. This ability to persevere despite obstacles and setbacks is the quality people most admire in others, and justly so; it is probably the most important trait not only for succeeding in life, but for enjoying it as well.”

― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”

For most business owners, big and small, Covid-19 is proving to be the biggest obstacle they’ve ever encountered. Some businesses are barely scraping by. Others have closed their doors indefinitely. And some have figured out how to pivot, how to shift their business models, how to move beyond the major setbacks they’ve encountered during these difficult days. 

The non-essential businesses that have managed to not only stay alive, but thrive during the pandemic, are the ones that are looking at this situation as a mountain to climb rather than a storm to endure. These businesses aren’t waiting it out, aren’t using hope as a strategy. They’re taking action, making changes, and pushing forward. 

Echelon Front is one of Jocko Willink’s many businesses. It’s a leadership training program led by “decorated, combat-proven veterans” designed to help teams, big and small, execute at the highest possible level. They offer leadership development programs, field training exercises, workshops, keynote presentations, and web-based training. 

Jocko, being the badass, unrelenting, uber-disciplined Navy Seal that he is, certainly hasn’t let the pandemic get in the way of his objectives. Within days of the worldwide shutdown of non-essential businesses, Jocko took some big steps to pivot his business and keep it going strong: 

  1. Jocko moved Echelon Front completely online. And he did it fast
  2. He did (and does) a stellar job of communicating via social media about how he pivoted his business and how others can do the same. And since the landscape is ever-changing, he keeps his followers updated on a daily basis. 
  3. He updated the images on the site to show users that everything is now web-based. (The image on the homepage, for instance, is a picture of Jocko’s face on a laptop screen.)

Two-Brain Business is a gym mentorship program developed by Chris Cooper. He and his team of mentors are committed to “making gyms profitable,” even in the midst of a global crisis. 

When gyms across the globe were forced to shut down, Chris Cooper moved fast to help gyms navigate this tough new reality: 

  1. On March 13th, Chris Cooper held a live “town-hall meeting” to help his clients (and anyone else in the industry—it was free) pivot their businesses. The meeting showed small boutique fitness business owners things like how to set up online training quickly, what messaging to use when talking to clients, how to help the coaching staff, what insurance will/won’t cover, and more. 
  2. From March 13th on, Two-Brain put out Covid-19 content at rates many of us would find unbelievable. The company publishes quality content on a daily basis, helping the gyms of the world take both a day-by-day approach, as well as create a long-term strategy. 
  3. Two-Brain Business has taken to social media (on a daily basis) to show potential clients how to not only survive this pandemic but actually become even more profitable than before! Using real success stories, Two-Brain is showing gym owners everywhere that hope is not lost. 

CrossFit, the wildly popular (and sometimes controversial) fitness company, had no option: it’s a pivot or die. CrossFit’s main revenue streams are from the annual affiliation fees paid by each gym owner, and by the in-person seminars and certifications. And with gyms being forced to close and large gatherings being a thing of the past, CrossFit was (and is) faced with a difficult question: How do you run an in-person boutique fitness business when you can’t get within six feet of another human being? 

CrossFit answered that question beautifully, and is taking massive action to ensure that the company continues to thrive amid Covid-19:

  1. CrossFit quickly moved their in-person seminars and certifications to the web. What you once had to do in person (like getting certified in CrossFit Kids), you can now do entirely online. 
  2. CrossFit immediately began putting out workouts (and awesome demo videos) suitable for athletes who now have to train from their living rooms. They showed people how to use what they have around the house (a kitchen chair for dips, gallon jugs for dumbbells, etc.) as gym equipment. 
  3. Within a few weeks of the global shutdown, CrossFit started a fundraiser for CrossFit affiliates around the globe to help them get through the Covid-19 crisis. The Support Your Local Box Fundraiser is an online fitness event (three workouts over three weeks) designed to help struggling affiliates stay afloat. The money raised went directly to the gyms. 

Moral of the story? If you’re already taking massive action, keep going. If you’re waiting for things to get ‘back to normal,’ you’ll probably be waiting forever. 

Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie Thompson is a freelance fitness writer. She's been in the fitness industry since 2004 and uses her knowledge and experience to help coaches and gym owners go from good to great.

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