Published by Ellen Sherberg, Bizwomen Contributor
Feb 9, 2023, 6:15am EST
Those who started businesses in 2020 and are still in business post-pandemic understand sacrifice and strategy: Jenny Zhan experienced both as CEO of Beyond International, an alternative investment management firm.
“Success requires flexibility. Every morning, I get up early for a focused exercise routine that requires my full attention ― adjusting my posture and alignment throughout to get the full benefits. As I stretch, I am continually fine-tuning my stance, positioning to keep my balance to ensure I don’t over-extend and hurt my back or knees.
My morning regimen reminds me that the need for constant and sustained modifications apply as much to a healthy lifestyle as it does, in my case, to investing for sustainable returns. When we launched our company Beyond International in 2020, an alternative investment management firm focused on value investing across real estate assets, we developed a business plan that we were excited to execute. Our business plan was well-designed, meticulously developed, and we were ready to put our plan into action.
And then the pandemic gripped the world and became an unforeseen challenge. Like many others, we thought the setback would be only a short time but in many ways the effects lasted as long as two years. During that time we allowed ourselves the opportunity to reflect and reset. The priorities became even clearer. Protecting our clients’ interests first and foremost, and managing their investments always mindful of their position and interests. That included some sacrifice for me personally as I would not take a salary for that entire two-year span.
From any perspective, the adjustments had to be made. Our business plan was adapted to meet not just the new environment but for every environment. We quickly took everything online and helped our clients set up their own infrastructure. We increased our communications, sponsored events and seminars to help our clients ― many who are small business owners and multinational entrepreneurs ― cope with the pandemic and created a community. As a young company, we were committed to meeting the challenges to demonstrate we could handle the headwinds with grace, smarts and show our investors they could trust us.
As we adjusted, our thoughts immediately turned to the next investment opportunities. We used our experience to analyze how the pandemic was disrupting the workplace. Armed with this knowledge and before everyone else flocked into investment themes that would become popular, we invested in digital infrastructure: data centers and digital towers. The goal was to position ourselves earlier, before the digital boom. We took a similar approach when investing in single and multi-family real estate, and later in retail shopping centers. Our investments are paying off now because we adjusted to the circumstances.
As we look ahead, we know the U.S. market is finding its footing. We continue to modify our investment strategy keeping our clients’ interests at the center of all we do. I have travelled to more than 30 countries and still believe the U.S. is a great country with a strong legal system, transparency, accountability, opportunity and still No. 1 in innovation. We will continue to adjust our business plan focused on assisting our clients achieve their financial dreams and continuing to build-upon the community we built during challenging times.