This blog post was written by the Framework Marketing director, Michaela Wain, as part of her series of personal blog posts surrounding her company and experiences with business.
All you business owners out there will know how truly difficult it is to run a company in the midst of a global pandemic. I don’t think there is a single business owner alive who would have been prepared for this event. So, what have we learnt? What can we do to be successful throughout the remainder? And what does the future look like for businesses?
WHAT I HAVE LEARNT
I was looking through my notepad from last year, trying to find a client’s number when I came across a note from March 2020 saying, ‘Call back Steve in May when this is all over’. I literally laughed out loud at my unrealistic optimism and how much of a naïve little girl I was. I didn’t have a clue.
I remember each day getting up with tiny goals for the day: make sure the kids were in a routine, get some work done, just little jobs – get out in the fresh air, read/listen to a development book for an hour.
After a couple of weeks in lockdown, it became clear that I needed to spend this time developing my skill set and my company. I now have had the time to finally step back, look at my business and myself, and work on improving everything that I normally wouldn’t have time for. Below is a list of what I have learned about myself and my company over the last 10 months:
- Nothing lasts forever – whether it’s good or bad, it will end. You will be sat at home and that moment will have passed, then it’s Christmas before you know it and you will look back and say, ‘Wow, did that happen?’
- We are far more adaptable than we ever realised. I think the companies who are surviving through this are being led by directors with inventive personalities. There were many elements of my company that allowed it to work through all of this but adaptation on the part of myself and my colleagues were key. We all did lots of learning, focused on the best way to get sales, our fastest cash flow stream, and pushed on with that. I’m not sure how successful we would have been if we only tried to do what we were doing pre-lockdown.
- Clients really want to stick with you if you have stuck with them. The loyalty we have experienced from our clients has been amazing, I think it really brought out the best in people; the network I had was amazing at supporting each other. I believe this is because I was also super loyal, I did a lot of work for free in that time; mentoring, training, helping as many of my clients as I could – in the end it all worked out because pretty much all of these have become good friends who now will only ever recommend our company for our services, which is a result in itself.
- I can juggle, not literally but metaphorically. I was able to teach a 10 year old, look after a one year old, work, decorate, bake, train. Looking back I’m not sure how I did it, but I think it goes to show that you are capable of far more than you think when put to the task.
- The importance of my freedom. Like everyone there were times where my head (metaphorically) fell off, I just wanted to get on a plane and run away from the chaos, but the reality was the whole world was suffering which made me feel quite claustrophobic, I really love a random get away, I like to be able to do what I want when I want, like most humans out there. I don’t think I will ever take queuing in a bar for granted again.
I don’t think I am some business guru but I have formed a plan and some pointers to get me through the remainder of this pandemic, however long it will last, so below is the list of things I will be doing, personally and in business to get me through to the end.
SMALL THINGS ADD UP
Like in the last lockdown, I set myself small tasks each day that led to big changes in the company. I will be doing the same again, this time with a big focus on learning more about my industry. I love to learn new things and I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned in the last 10 months that I brought into action within my company.
It got to the point where we separated the business in two and even made a small growth. It wasn’t some huge overnight success, but it was a success nonetheless, which all the little tasks made possible.
LOOK AFTER YOUR STAFF
I have an amazing team who care about our company, our vision, and what we can offer them. Without the staff, I would just have a lot of ideas that wouldn’t become a reality, so we do everything we can to make sure that everyone working with us is happy and able to cope in the current situation.
KEEP YOURSELF OUT THERE
Market your company, make sure people know that you are still trading, are still around, you are available and in the absence of customers work on becoming an expert in your industry, and telling people all about that.
SURVIVING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN GROWTH
Drop the ego – now is not the time to impress Maurine on Facebook with your new shoes. Don’t worry about what other people think, concentrate on making sure you, your family, and your colleagues are happy, healthy, and earning enough to get through to the other side. Follow the money at this point, not the dream.
EXERCISE EVERY DAY
I must do some form of exercise each day, I am just one of those people that gets the right hump if I don’t exercise, so I will be making sure I do something every day. Even if it’s a 30 minute walk, I have to do something and I would advise everyone to do the same, you never regret a little activity.
Finally, what does the future look like for business? I strongly believe we will never go back to how we were pre-pandemic, and I think it’s a good thing, below is what I think will change in general but definitely within my companies:
We are turning into a company that pays more on performance than on time. Our sales team has always worked like this as it is easy to measure and lay out commission. For our other roles it’s a little more complicated but we’ve adapted.
If someone is working from home, I now know how long jobs will approximately take them so I’ll set them the tasks for the week or month (depending on project length) and let them crack on for £X.
They might complete the task early and that’s fine – I was happy to pay £X for the job. Their time is their own after this, I think it’s a nice way to work keeping everyone happy.
I’m sure we are all a little tired of Zoom but you’ve got to admit it does make life so much easier! Instead of having a team of people travel 100 miles for an onboarding consultation we can meet our client online and crack on much more efficiently, I hope this stays around.
WORK LIFE BALANCE
There have been times throughout my life I have worked myself into the ground, I have lost sight of what is important and focused on pushing for more instead of being grateful for what I have right now. Going forward I will appreciate what I have when I have it, it’s great to aim for more, but my children are only young once and I can’t get this time back so I want to enjoy it while I can.
This may not be brand new information to most but for me personally, the pandemic has shone a light on the importance of contract work. Repeat guaranteed business is invaluable, your projections are based on reality, it allows your company to be favourable when looking to sell or seek investment, it gives you freedom and stability. Working throughout this pandemic has shown me how valuable my contract clients are and will continue to be.
I think we have all experienced the benefits of working remotely and online. Companies were definitely given the kick up the arse they needed to get up to date with the latest technologies so they could work smoothly from home. I think this will be a major thing that we will be doing going forward – making sure we are always on top of the latest trends, keeping up with the technology that will make our lives easier, and helping us to keep connected locally and internationally.
I hope that giving you an insight into how I run my companies and what I plan to do going forward can help you in some way, if you need any more advice about keeping yourself out there during a pandemic then check out my website www.frameworkmarketing.co.uk where you will find loads of tips for free.