Like many small, minority and women-owned businesses, 2020 left us feeling frustrated and stunned. Before the end of the second quarter, the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on the U.S. and in particular small and minority-owned businesses. From February to April 2020, the “active” number of small businesses in the U.S. dropped from 15 million to 11 million, a 22% decline. During that same timeframe, African American entrepreneurs experienced a disproportionate decline of 41% in their businesses. Our business goal for 2020 became obvious – avoid being a declining 2020 statistic and focus our energy on transforming our overall business model. Two things became clear to our business early in the year: 1) the business model of the past which naturally and effortlessly relied on traditional business, training and consulting interactions was no longer sustainable, and 2) the ability to survive and compete in this new era required a thoughtful, but quick pivot to a virtualized, digital support model with “pandemic-proof” training tools and resources.
Armed with three of our core values – Passion, Innovation and Responsibility – NXT Gen addressed the challenge of a business model transformation. Admittedly, we occasionally felt ill-equipped, ill-prepared and lacked the resources needed for transformation. Grants were evasive and revenue streams proved limited as our current and potential clients simultaneously experienced their own pandemic challenges. But as Mark Cuban once said, “Wherever there is change, wherever there is uncertainty, there is opportunity”.
Headwinds aside, our approach shifted to seeking power-collaborations and high opportunity partnerships with companies with proven track records in delivering sustainable training and learning technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI). After several months of consulting and collaboration, NXT Gen has successfully partnered with TTEC, an industry leader to develop and deliver AI training and simulation technology. Our digital partnership will allow our clients to experience practice tools which reinforce learning, provide consistent feedback, as well as personalized coaching in a digitally interactive environment.
As we approach 2021 and beyond, our passion and mission will remain the same – “to maximize employee talent with creative, sustainable training solutions”. NXT Gen’s commitments to our clients and community include:
- Helping our clients and colleagues understand, assess and agree on “what does success look like” and how it can be achieved for their business.
- Showing businesses how to extract and capitalize on the potential of people to create an organizational culture where talents, experiences and creativity are harnessed to maximize productivity.
- Supporting our clients to strengthen their workforce and invest in the NXT Generation of leaders.
- Guiding organizations to place value on diversity while creating real opportunities for inclusion and equality in the workplace.
- Helping organizations consistently deliver better service, better outcomes and better quality of life for employees and customers served.
- Partnering with organizations and minority and women-owned businesses to knowledge share and overcome barriers to build stronger communities.
Source: The National Bureau of Economic Research, Robert W. Fairlie, http://www.nber.org/papers/w27309, June 2020