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How I'm Making Sure My Business - and Spirit - Stay Alive During Coronavirus (An Honest Account)

With so much noise and media coverage about Coronavirus out there, I'm not expecting anyone to read this. I don't even really know what my aim is; I do hope it offers a little support to business owners whom a lot of this may resonate with, and the same goes for fellow parents, sons, daughters, employees - well all of you; we're all being affected. I guess from a selfish perspective it's also therapeutic jotting my thoughts down.

I'm a pregnant Mum of a spirited 2 year old and owner of Total Guide to; a digital business which, up until yesterday was in a growth spurt. The team have never been more solid, the site traffic higher than ever, new franchises about to be sold and despite the usual growing pains, things were good.

Now the official word is that because I'm pregnant and auto-immune, I should self isolate. Luckily, being a digital business that isn't too difficult for us and we're already working remotely well thanks to video conferencing like Zoom and our cloud based project management tools like Basecamp.

How though, can I really 'isolate' when I need my daughter to be in childcare to have the peace and quiet to effectively run the business and support the team and our clients throughout this turbulent time? Florence is essentially 'exposed' when she is in childcare so is there much point in me self isolating myself? I'm still yet to figure this one out but in the meantime I will continue to have her in childcare, work remotely and limit social contact.

Every day, with new stats announcements and the government press conferences, I keep flitting between fight and flight mode.  Did anyone else struggle to sleep last night? I kept waking up playing all the possible scenarios in my head, wondering if I have the fight in me to keep evolving and to make sure the business which I built from scratch eight years ago comes out the other side

Despite the fractious nights sleep, I'm in full 'fight' mode today. I know that although this is going to be testing, and we may need to make some unpleasant decisions, we are in the fortunate position of having a diverse business so we can adapt quickly and although we may come out of this with some grey hairs, we will survive and I know people are going through much much worse.

Although I'm confident that we'll be okay, I feel overwhelming protective and emotional for the staff, our clients, our suppliers, the local community, my parents and my daughter (I'm desperately sad for them that they may be apart for 4 months). We're all feeling everybody else's pain aren't we? It just adds to the anxiety.

My fight mode today though, is forcing me to act - and as well as to protect my business baby and my actual babies, I want to shield those and everything we value, as much as I/we possibly can.

If the business starts to see a rapid downturn, an obvious move will be to let our freelancers and contractors go first. The team and I refuse to let this happen without a fight. We are going to do everything in our power to make sure this doesn't happen or is at least limited. If all businesses start removing services and partnerships, it will be a false economy as we'll all have to follow suit and the situation will just get worse and worse for all of us.

We will continuously be asking ourselves, our suppliers, and clients what we can we do to help and to maintain the relationships that have contrubuted to us being where we are. We couldn't do without these businesses and people when things get back to normal again. We therefore have to protect and support them as much as ourselves as we will all need each other when we have come out of the other side.

I have already spoken to one of our key suppliers today and have suggested they adapt their service so we can directly monetise what they are doing for us and we are doing the same for our clients. We're supporting and promoting their changes of direction, we're giving them regular advice and delivering Facebook Live Surgeries so we can all collaborate and help each other with tips and advice. We've taken the drastic measure of scrapping our rate card temporarily - we're not going to do any flash crazy sale but rather accept that a rate card is pointless at the moment but, as businesses need to share their message and keep paddling away, we will do whatever we can -creatively and financially to help everyone stay afloat (while making sure we can survive too).

Although the daily news fills me with deep sadness especially for those immediately and dramatically impacted like restaurants, pubs and theatres and those that are unable to be with their loved ones, I am trying to see some positives and I want to share these with the aim that they fill you with the hope and drive they do for me.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Business

  • We'll all learn to be more productive and to work smarter. I had a successful 20 minute video conference today that face to face would have meant a drive of a 90 minute round trip and a 60 minute meeting

  • The solidarity and support of fellow businesses and colleagues is truly heart-warming and people are valuing their network more than ever - there's a real 'wartime spirit'.

  • One of our staff members offered to take unpaid leave and lessen her hours if things get bad - this kind gesture will never be forgotten

  • 'Non important' tasks that have been put on the back burner for years are being completed

  • We're clearing the decks and working on future projects ready to hit the ground running when things improve

  • We're adapting and introducing new revenue streams which will last once this is all over

  • We're adding value and giving support to our existing clients and they value us more than ever and we're proud and grateful for the network we have

  • We're working 'on' the business rather than fire-fighting

  • I'm proud that we are providing a service to support the business and wider community through this

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Day-to-Day Life

  • The environment is already benefiting from less aviation, motoring etc.

  • Spring is almost here, we're all being forced to slow down and we will appreciate the free and natural things in life - going for walks, admiring the Bluebells and spring flowers, taking our time gardening

  • I'm spending more quality time with my husband and daughter

  • We're getting more creative with entertaining our toddler and not relying on taking her out all the time

  • I'm communicating with friends and family more albeit via Facetime and messages

  • We're rushing around less and not juggling our busy social calendars

  • I'm moved by the wider community all supporting each other - local what's app groups being set up to organise helping the elderly and vulnerable, notes through the door offering help to the isolated

  • I'm not taking loved-ones for granted and many of us are showing we care in simple gestures (I'm now playing Words with Friends to keep my Mum busy - but I'm now addicted and she's actually entertaining me!)

  • While we're self isolating we will learn a lot about ourselves (maybe a good and a bad thing!?)

  • During self-isolation we won't be annoyed by all the empty loo roll and pasta shelves (if we stay off social media!)I'm excited to have time to read more books

  • We will continue to see random acts of human kindness and spirit

The one thing that I think we can all do to survive is to keep supporting and communicating with each other and to remember one of my favourite fitness quotes that is ringing so true in this situation "Pain is Temporary, Quitting Lasts Forever".

Anyway sorry for rattling on. I'd love to hear any positives you are experiencing and your coping mechanism's through this testing time.

Stay safe and well.


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