Headshot of Rachele Cooper, CEO and founder of Aptive Resources.
Rachele Cooper, CEO and founder of Aptive Resources and winner of the U.S. Chamber’s 2020 Dream Big Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award. — Aptive Resources

Business owners should cultivate a culture of nimbleness, not just in response to COVID but all the time, according to Rachele Cooper, CEO and founder of Aptive Resources.

“A culture of continuous learning and open communication enables efficient decision making and supports learning cycles,” said Cooper. “We’ve found that by being agile, we can stabilize the business even through a period of rapid growth.”

Cooper’s business is a government consulting firm located in Alexandria, Virginia, that fosters human experience while delivering digital services and business transformation. Aptive Resources had to adapt to rapid growth in 2020, despite the pandemic.

“With about 200 employees, we harness creativity, technology and culture to connect people and systems to impact our communities,” explained Cooper, who also won the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Dream Big Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award.

“For us, we care deeply about improving services for veterans, advancing the quality of health care, communicating important information to people and using technology to create new and better ways of doing things,” she told CO—.

[Read more: A Complete Guide to Starting a Veteran-Owned Business]

We’ve found that by being agile, we can stabilize the business even through a period of rapid growth.

Changes from the pandemic bring exponential growth

While many businesses may have had to slow down their operations or cease them entirely, Aptive Resources actually grew in employees, contracts and revenue.

“We added dozens of new government contracts, hired about 100 employees and nearly doubled our revenue,” Cooper said. “All internal systems experienced rapid expansion and maturation.”

The one thing that did need to change was how Cooper and her employees worked in the new normal with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.

While their office was equipped to handle the change, there were some adjustments that needed to be made. Cooper credits Aptive Resources’ ability to change for its success, especially when it comes to employee pivots.

“We instituted flexible work schedules so employees could conduct their work in a way that is optimal for their own situations,” explained Cooper. “We [also] shifted our in-person meetings and events to virtual environments. Instead of happy hours, we played online trivia, attended a virtual concert and watched a livestreamed magic show.”

Aptive Resources also began hiring employees around the country rather than just at its Alexandria office, while providing their staff with the appropriate technology to ensure they could work remotely.

[Read more: 5 Essential Ways to Support Employees Post-Pandemic]

A passionate approach creates business longevity

As a new and aspiring entrepreneur, you put in a lot of time, energy and effort, said Cooper. Doing what you’re passionate about will ultimately keep you going when you feel like giving up.

“If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, that effort can weigh you down,” she added. “When you and your team genuinely care about the end goal, it makes it easier to put in the long hours together – and then celebrate the successes! That success builds a bridge of trust with your workforce and your clients and creates a wonderful sense of camaraderie.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published July 26, 2021