Business owners, heads of organizations and community leaders do not typically anticipate the need to close down their work rapidly. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic in March of 2020 indeed required unexpected closures, leading to the loss and destabilization of people’s livelihoods. Chris Scherer, founder of 2020 Evolve, experienced this phenomenon first hand. What started as a normal year in the event production industry ended with the development of a consulting agency focused on small businesses.
Chris had worked extensively in business development for event and audiovisual production companies. During his 13 years in this market, 2015 through 2019 were some of the most profitable years for event production with a major uptick in demand and scale. The beginning of 2020 brought expectations of similar success at even higher profitability, but those working in the industry were not prepared for the complete shutdown that occurred. The events industry was among the first to be halted in response to the pandemic and will likely be among the last to make a full recovery. As a business owner, Chris was thrust into in a precarious position: how long could he maintain a business with limited to no revenue? After exhausting funding relief options available through the SBA’s PPP and EIDL loans and considering the unforeseeable end to the pandemic, he made the calculated decision to close the doors to his business.
Chris quickly experienced that the number of resources available for starting a business in Wisconsin are overwhelming, but the resources advising entrepreneurs how to close a business were much more difficult to find. After navigating through the headaches that came with closing a business, he was left with the question of what to do next. Having been active within the local Chamber of Commerce and business community, he could see that other small businesses and nonprofits were struggling to pivot during COVID as well.
Chris approached the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for help. Ron Chisholm, an SBDC consultant at UW-Whitewater, introduced Chris to many useful tools and strategies.
“Ron introduced me to tools like GrowthWheel, which not only allowed me to focus on efficiently running my business, but will help my clients on their journey as well. I’m fortunate to have access to the SBDC and encourage existing and new business owners to give Ron a call.” Armed with the additional resources and business tools from managing a company that helped facilitate more than 250 events per year, he formed 2020 Evolve, a small business consulting agency.
Officially opening in October of 2020, Chris, along with other skilled industry professionals, set out to be the “Swiss Army knife” for small business, helping local businesses with sales strategies, market development, technology and media needs. He realized that starting a new endeavor helping small businesses would provide a solution to struggling entrepreneurs. He recognized the value in being a teammate to existing businesses, building on opportunities and providing strengths where organizations needed help. He opened his new business 2020 Evolve.
What makes 2020 Evolve unique? All the staff members have been business owners and operators; they understand the huge demands for time and resources that small businesses face. Through asking the right questions and making insight driven decisions, Chris and his team are able to identify and alleviate pain points that small businesses, non-profits and organizations face.
Chris is a firm believer that those who do not create the future they want must endure the future they get. COVID upended the future he was envisioning but opened the door for him to create impact within local businesses and communities. He looks forward to building upon the skills that allowed him to make this crucial adaption during a pandemic. More importantly, he looks forward to implementing those skills to assist other small businesses.
Accomplishments with UW-Whitewater SBDC:
- Introduction to tools and resources
- Business strategies