Second wave Covid and your business

Over the past week, I’ve heard lots of ‘oh, here we go again’, type comments and lots of negativity around businesses with the second wave Covid pandemic upon us. A lot of us are now experiencing the inevitable second lockdown, which I know is a pretty bitter pill to swallow. It’s not only businesses that are suffering, it’s also our mental health; something that seems to be more highlighted this time around…probably due to lessons learned from last time.

So, what can you do to make the most of a bad situation?

Developing a growth mindset for your small business

We all know that our businesses are going through the mill all over the world – it’s one of the most radical changes the world has seen in the history of work. And lots of us are struggling with this new environment; this new ‘normal’. Big companies, and even the NHS, are learning how to work, manage and lead their employees from a distance, whilst they work from home. But what about the small business? How can you cope during these very stressful times? It’s very hard when there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight, despite what we’re being told by our various governments. I think it’s time we took charge and helped ourselves – obviously this isn’t as easy as it sounds and will involve changes, but sometimes change can be good.

One way is to develop a growth mindset and think of other ways to manage your small business. Hopefully this article will give you some ideas. You CAN do it and you WILL still manage some growth in your business.

How can I develop a growth mindset?

I don’t have all the answers, but after thinking about this at length, this is what I have decided on for my business. I’ll share my thoughts and hopefully this will help some of you.

First of all, decide that you are going to welcome the challenge and embrace the changes you have to make. For us small business owners, the most important thing we can do is maintain the relationships we have built with our customers and communities. You already have good relationships with them and they trust you, so effective communication during this time will be key to keeping your business going.

For some businesses, who have physical premises that have had to close down, it will be a matter of working out how best to still reach your customers. It will also be important to plan what you’re going to do when you can reopen – you’ll be more experienced this time, having been through it once.

Social Media

Most businesses are on social media, so use this to your advantage to regularly update your customers, even if it’s not totally business related. And if you have an email list, or send out a monthly communication or newsletter, now is the time to use it to your advantage. Share funny things, share your thoughts and ideas for the future, so they know you have plans in place for after the lockdown. Make short 30 second videos just to say ‘hello’ and keep in touch. No matter what business you’re in, this is a good idea – people love videos and a short message from you could brighten their day. If your business is suited to gift vouchers, Christmas is coming, so sell vouchers for when the lockdown ends.

Ask Questions or Create Polls

Ask questions or create polls to find out information about what your customers are struggling with in your niche. For example, if you are a beauty consultant or hairdresser, ask if your customers have any problems with their skin or hair. You can then use that data to do social media posts or videos answering their questions.

Offer 1:1 sessions

You could offer 1:1 phone, WhatsApp or FaceTime calls for a small charge, giving personal advice, if they have a problem they’d rather not discuss publicly on social media. For some of your customers, it will be enough to simply be able to speak to you…and this will reinforce how important and valued they are.

Can you offer physical products?

If you have products that you can sell, can you offer special bundles that your customers can buy from you. If I use the beauty or hairdressing scenario again, can you bundle up a few products that you sell into a set? This could be a skincare set, a body care set, a shampoo-conditioner-deep cleansing hair mask combo for example.

If you have a crafting business, give suggestions with photos of your products that would be suitable for Granny, Aunty, Dad or children. Show your customers the end result – what and who are your products aimed at? If you make decorative items, can you adapt them for Christmas? Sell a Christmas tree set or a set of Christmas items for the mantelpiece or Christmas dinner table.

All of these ideas come from thinking about growth and how to grow when you can’t physically be there for your customers.

Social media is huge and we know from previous experience, that during the last lockdown, internet use soared. Orders to online companies grew at an alarming rate, so it makes sense to put your small business out there. 

Go ‘to work’

Another way to help with a more positive mindset, is to actually ‘go to work’ every day. Set up an area where you can have your ‘office’, preferably a quiet, private space where you won’t get too distracted or suffer from interruptions.

Set rules with your family, so they know that from, say 10am to 2pm, you are working, so not to be disturbed. I know this could be more difficult if you have small children in the house.

If you are able to work all day, make sure that you take regular breaks to make a coffee, to have lunch or to just sit with other family members for half an hour. I always work from home, so for me this is normal. But I do take breaks and I find I’m much more productive if I have lunch at a certain time, and take a half hour to an hour break mid-afternoon.

During lockdown, it’s good to try and maintain some kind of structure. This is not only good for your business, but also good for your mental health.

I hope some of these ideas have been useful and given you food for thought on how you can manage a growth mindset during this awful time. If you would like to receive my monthly Marketing Tips email, packed with valuable and constructive ideas for marketing your business, please click here to sign up. In the welcome email, you will receive a code to enter a member’s only space on my website, where you will find loads of free resources; checklists, templates, worksheets etc. to help you push your business forward.  

If you have any other ideas, which would help other small businesses, or want to ask any questions, please feel free to comment below or email me at cindymobey@outlook.com

Keep smiling!

The Coronavirus Lockdown and your mental health

With the Coronavirus came the inevitable…lockdown and self-isolation. For many, it’s a chance to catch up on all those jobs we’ve been meaning to do, (and an ideal time to get your OH to do everything he says he’s going to do ‘when he has time!’). You might be literally self-isolating completely by yourself, or you may have a husband, wife or partner – your children or parents may be with you.

No matter what your own situation, for those who suffer from anxiety or have mental health issues, it might be a time of consternation and worry, exacerbating symptoms and a feeling of helplessness, although for some their anxiety may be the thought of having to go out and what might be out there.  

For those who run their own businesses, it might be that you’ve had to close your business and you’re worrying about money, which is a big stress factor. So are there any coping mechanisms that can help during this tough time?

Psychologists are saying that it’s normal to feel worried and anxious in a crisis like this…the virus is new; so far there is no vaccination and it is stumping even the experts. But the stress you feel around this can be managed.

How to cope

There are many ways to keep yourself occupied, so you don’t have time to think about the virus and to help relieve stress and anxiety…

  • The first step is to recognise your symptoms – to know that you are suffering from a mental health issue
  • Try to eliminate any toxic thoughts that might contribute to your negativity
  • Don’t watch every news story or read every post on social media about the crisis – it just adds to your stress levels, especially when you see nasty comments and unnecessary hype.
  • Try to focus on what you are grateful for – this could be something as simple as sitting in the garden, watching a sunrise or sunset, or just listening to the birds with your eyes closed
  • Meditation
  • Attempt to maintain a healthy regime – eat meals regularly, go for a daily walk or have some kind of exercise
  • Eat a healthy and nutritious diet which will help your immune system and limit the amount of sugar and alcohol intake. Avoid smoking if you can.
  • Use phone or video apps to connect with your family and friends – a good old chinwag helps alleviate stress
  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Sleep is a priority for physical and emotional well-being, as well as for your mental health. This is something that, for me, is a sign I’m stressed – I don’t sleep well.
  • If you are working from home, have regular breaks – drink warm drinks and get away from your work for a while. If it’s nice and you can, get outside and walk around for a few minutes
  • Do you have a hobby? No matter what your hobby is, or used to be, now is the time to get back to it, be it painting, photography, sewing, crochet, yoga etc. If you’d like to learn a new skill, just google search ‘beginners course in XXXX’ – often you’ll find YouTube tutorials or free courses for you to focus on
  • If things are really getting on top of you, seek professional help – there is no shame in asking someone to help you and you might find it’s the best thing you’ve ever done

There are often local support groups you can join…and during this crisis, there are several groups online, such as on Facebook, where like-minded members support each other and help each other out, have a laugh, discuss all sorts of things not related to the virus, share funny stories and jokes – a community you can rely on.  

Take time to look after yourself

Above all, according to Stephen Fry in his recent interview on the Andrew Marr show, we should all just take time. And by this, he means take your sweet old time to do things, for example, clean your teeth, lay out your clothes etc. A routine where you don’t have to rush helps you feel more in control. Stephen Fry has openly admitted in the past that he suffers from mental health issues.

If you’d like to hear the interview, click here.

Looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your body or keeping your mind active. Letting go of an anxious mind-set is OK. Just try to be…to be you.

More help if you need it

If you want to read more or need to seek professional help, there is a good website in the UK – https://www.mind.org.uk/

And if you’re in France, the French news and views site, The Connexion, has a great article on getting psychiatric help in France, with advice on who to contact – https://www.connexionfrance.com/Archive/Get-psychiatric-help-in-France

We will get through this crisis and some countries are already showing signs of some kind of normality starting to return and daily figures going down. We know that this won’t go on forever. We just have to help each other get through the next few weeks and months and be kind to each other.