originally published April 10, 2017—

In an era of turbulent markets, rapidly advancing technology and fickle consumer habits, the most successful businesses tend to be the most agile.

Take Trayvax Enterprises, for example. Owner Mark King’s original vision was to create a better way to reuse plastic bags. But as he developed the product, he came to realize that the world needed something different. So he completely shifted directions and instead applied his engineering and entrepreneurial skills to creating an heirloom-quality wallet.

Just four years after the company’s founding, TrayVax is creating and shipping hundreds of the metal wallets every day.

Or look at Augusta Lawn Care. Owner Mike Andes started the business with his brother as a way to save up for college. Today, the business has a symbiotic relationship with another of Andes’s ventures: the Business Bootcamp podcast.

The lawn care business provides Andes with so much entrepreneurial experience that it overflows into the podcast, for which he also interviews many other business owners just like himself.

He takes information learned in his podcasts and feeds it right back into the lawncare company. The practice has been so successful that Andes recently launched an online landscape business course that teaches students how to start their own profitable lawn-care companies.

Both Trayvax and Augusta feature innovative, solutions-minded founders with the insight and fortitude to respond quickly to changing business demands.

Business flexibility, aided by a transparent and supportive government, is the key to a robust entrepreneurial community in Whatcom County.

What happens when companies can’t be flexible?

Imagine that the pizza restaurant you own is told you can never add a new menu item, no matter what customers are clamoring for. Or suppose you’re a craft brewer, and you’re limited by law to making only the same beers that you brew right now. You’d be unable to respond to market demands or to adjust your business practices to accommodate changes in the world around you.

Simply put, in today’s hyper-agile world, putting new rules in place that freeze future growth and development can cause companies to lose their competitive edge.

Related: Learn about proposals that limit zoning and land use flexibility in the Cherry Point area and how those limits could be harmful for the business climate in Whatcom County.

Here’s one more example:

The Bellingham storage rental company that Karen Bellingar runs with her husband, Dave, isn’t just a place to house overflow furniture that may once again prove useful.

Rather, Bellingar Storage has evolved and grown into a thriving business hub, filled with startup businesses from many industries who rent space while they get off the ground.

“Seeing many businesses that have rented from us go on to larger spaces and greater success is incredibly rewarding,” Bellingar says.

What could have been a staid series of half-full storage units in the heart of the Irongate neighborhood is instead a thriving feature of the local business community, because local rules and regulations allowed the business to evolve.

Now that’s business agility and ingenuity.