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Opinion: The transformation of business  

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Starting your own business can be like setting sail on an unpredictable ocean. You may set your course with a clear destination in mind, but you might encounter unforeseen currents and winds that alter your path along the way. In the business realm, this could mean that the venture you start with may differ from where you end up 20 years later. Rather than viewing this as a setback, it’s crucial to perceive it as a natural part of the journey that could lead to exciting new opportunities.

In some cases, forces outside of your control bring about the change. Over the last few years, catastrophic damage and destruction were forced onto the small-business community because of mandated lockdowns that blew up supply lines and shattered the labor market. We’re still dealing with a heavy inflationary environment caused by the unprecedented increase in the money supply via COVID relief – much of which has not even been spent yet. This strain has caused many businesses to reinvent themselves and reimagine their future.

We did not set out 24 years ago to build a big business. As a company providing audio, video and lighting services, we saw the great struggle in the typical architecture/construction process and often found ourselves in the middle. We saw a need to develop a better, more holistic delivery method for construction and renovation projects, so we started building a plan, but we had yet to determine where it would lead. Today, we have built an enterprise of companies that support a holistic, turn-key design-build model that has been very successful nationally. It, however, only remotely resembles where we started. Regardless of where we are today, we have had to change and implement many new plans, strategies and procedures to keep moving forward in this new business environment. 

Here are just a few thoughts on navigating this.

Time has taught me that working on the business is essential instead of always being buried in it. Sometimes, seeing the 30,000-foot view from inside the company is hard.

Vision casting is an essential element in rallying your team around a clear direction, which is critical to successful transformations that a business may need to make. You will need buy-in from your team and key players.

Adapting to the changes in the landscape often necessitates pivoting or reinventing your business to stay relevant and competitive. Embracing change and remaining flexible in your approach can open doors to unforeseen opportunities and ultimately lead to greater success.

Lastly, there is no substitute for hard work. You are going to encounter failures. The goal is to learn from them, pivot, and move on. It will most likely be an uphill climb, and as with most things in business, it will not be easy. It will be hard work but likely worth it in the end. 

Countless successful entrepreneurs can attest to the fact that their initial business ventures bore little resemblance to the enterprises they lead today. What you learn from your initial foray into entrepreneurship – navigating market dynamics, understanding consumer behavior or honing your leadership skills – lays the groundwork for future success, even if it means transitioning to a different venture.

In conclusion, don’t be discouraged if the business you start with isn’t the one you end up with. Entrepreneurship is a dynamic, iterative process characterized by experimentation, adaptation and personal growth. Your initial venture is a foundation upon which you build your skills, knowledge and entrepreneurial acumen. Embrace the journey, remain open to change and trust in your ability to navigate the constantly changing waters. Remember, the destination may evolve, but the lessons learned remain invaluable.

Donnie Brawner is CEO and owner of Paragon 360 and Paragon Fabrication. He can be reached at dbrawner@paragon360.com.

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