The Tennessean published a piece by our founder & president, Danny Whetstone, about how DWP Live navigated the 2008 recession and what businesses can learn from the lessons it taught us. As we all continue to navigate the impact of COVID-19, now is the time to prepare for what lies ahead.
Click here to read the piece or continue on below.
COVID-19 crisis provides businesses the chance to pivot, learn and innovate
Businesses should now turn their attention to opportunities COVID-19 has created. Success comes to those that make changes to their offerings or ways of doing business during times of uncertainty.
When I started DWP Live in late 2007, the economic downturn had just begun. As the United States began to experience the most severe financial crisis in the postwar period, the economy was in upheaval, and many small businesses were forced to lay off employees, slash spending and halt expansion plans until the financial crisis subsided. It was up in the air which businesses would make it out of the recession intact.
At that time, DWP Live was a one-man shop. I had no overhead and a roster of strong relationships that began sending me business because I was more nimble and more efficient than other longstanding players in the space. As the economy strengthened, our company grew in staff and revenue, and we leased a building on the outskirts of Nashville. We became known as the video vendor of choice for live event producers across the country with events like the Super Bowl and last year’s Apollo 50th anniversary celebration in Washington D.C. on our resume.
Last month, however, our business came to a halt as the coronavirus canceled a full lineup of events, conferences, and concerts in our pipeline. We were forced to lay off staff, the hardest decision a business owner makes, and adjust our operations to preserve cash.
Just as was true in 2008, we, along with many other companies in and outside our industry, began developing our go-forward plans with urgency. Events businesses have been among the hardest hit, and many began pivoting immediately. LA-based Choura Events pivoted from working on music festivals to building triage tents for the pandemic. Others like Ann Arbor-based TLS Productions found alternative uses for inventory, such as providing power systems for remote locations in Detroit.
One evident parallel to the upheaval in 2008 is that the sooner businesses make hard, defensive decisions and stabilize, the sooner they can focus all energy on reinventing themselves. DWP Live grew quickly out of the last recession because we were positioned to focus on opportunities and play offense. We are approaching the current environment in the same way.
However, we know the next version of our company will be markedly different than the DWP Live we’ve been. We’ve already shifted our in-house events venue into rentable space for online presentations and trainings. We’re developing more applications for our services in smaller event venues, which will undoubtedly be more appealing following the pandemic. We’re considering educational offerings for industry professionals to sharpen their skills. But we’ll operate like a startup, and we’ll be testing as we go.
I encourage all businesses to now turn their attention to the opportunities that the pandemic has created. Experience has taught me that success comes to those that make changes to their offerings or ways of doing business during times of uncertainty. The ones reinventing their services and preparing for the other side will have the best chance of coming out stronger and equipped for what lies ahead.
As with the recession of 2008, it could be the end for many. However, even then, there were many companies with the odds stacked against them that survived and went on to thrive, including my own. Once again, we must determine how we’ll use this time to prepare for the comeback. This reality is now our classroom. Use the time wisely to learn and prepare to seize the possibilities ahead.