What a strange year it has been, who knew that when we celebrated New Year’s Eve and we made all those resolutions that we’d actually be staying at home for most of the year. Here we are now heading to Christmas, still with some uncertainty about the future even with the news of a vaccine on the distant horizon.
I wanted to reflect on what it’s been like for me running a small business during these COVID-19 times.
I started working for myself in July 2019, I was excited about what was to come but I also had no idea of what to expect. My days were filled with networking building my name, working on visibility and beginning to understand what it was like to run a small business. At the same time I was doing 2 days of leadership coaching and development for a corporate client.
I felt that about October of 2019, I was getting into my flow, I met loads of people, people were starting to get to know me and I had started to build up my network and client base as well as continuing to work on my coaching skills.
After the New Year, we started to hear about this virus but I think to be honest we all thought it was so far away it would never happen to us. We carried on as normal through February with meetings, networking, and going about our daily lives shaking hands with people, hugging and high 5’ing! All while listening to the news and hearing about cases of the virus arriving in Europe.
At the beginning of March we visited our family in Lincolnshire, (we haven’t been there since), and I also remember being at LinkedIn Local where talk of Coronavirus it was rapidly becoming a hot topic of conversation with people cancelling because they didn’t want to be in big groups – I think I was still in denial about it.
23rd of March – we went into Lockdown.
A couple of weeks later my contract with the corporate client was paused, it actually ended. I had 2 private coaching clients at this point, one cancelled as their business was seriously impacted by lockdown and the other agreed to carry on over Zoom, but then decided that Zoom was taking over their life and paused coaching until we could meet face to face again – we had no idea when this would be.
Zoom….the saviour of 2020 or not? I had used Zoom but not loads and suddenly like everyone else, I needed to improve my skills. More than that I had no choice but to move my coaching from face to face sessions onto Zoom, I must be honest I wasn’t overly keen on this, I questioned how this would work, would I be able to keep and maintain rapport and relationships through coaching online? Would I be able to pick up on the unsaid things that you can see when you are sat with someone? How will I deal with the emotions that come up from nowhere in face to face sessions. The short answer is yes you can and yes I did, but I was still apprehensive about this.
Business came to a full stop between April and June. I am one of the small business owners that didn’t qualify for any support from the Government, Enrichment Coaching isn’t old enough. I couldn’t furlough myself and one of my values is determination so I wasn’t about to give up either. If ever there was a time to pull up my big pants this was it. Easier said than done!
Realising that I probably wasn’t going to get any new business for a while there were 2 things I did:
1. Signed up to complete my NLP Practitioners Certification – I’d wanted to do it for ages, but had been too busy and it’s another tool in my coaching kit bag and now I have the time to study
2. Worked on my business –
a. I got right under the skin of my business, understanding what I’d been doing, creating a vision & purpose, working on how to talk about what I do.
b. I continued to stay visible within my network, online networking – I hated it in the beginning too many faces, breakout room anxiety and I did everything going and ended up with Zoom fatigue – who knew that was even a thing before 2020. (I now pick & choose the ones I get the most value from!)
There were days when I thought my business wasn’t going to survive, there were days I felt really anxious about this and there were days when I just sat in front of my computer and wondered what the hell I was going to do. Betty (my inner critic), was in full flow with her what if’s questions. So I had to find escapism in the form of the garden and re-reading all the Harry Potter books, this helped me to switch my focus and think about something else!
As lockdown started to be lifted things started to change and business started to come back around, I picked up a few clients, some who had re-evaluated what they were doing and needed clarity around their way forward. Clients I had been working with came back to me and their business had prospered meaning they were in a completely different place which was awesome. I worked with people who had been made redundant and needed their confidence building and I worked with people who had been promoted too.
My Lockdown Lessons:
1. Take time out – self-care is so important, you need time to switch off. Running a business is 24/7 so find a way to create boundaries between work / home or a form of escapism
2. Time – I had time to get to know my business rather than running from one thing to another and not getting round to doing things properly, I wouldn’t have had this without COVID-19
3. Reflection – I was able to reflect on whether the corporate work I was doing was keeping me in my comfort zone, this was an opportunity to make a change here and work differently
4. I became an NLP Practitioner – very proud of my self-motivation to get this done!
5. Determination – the value I live by of giving up or giving in is not an option most definitely played a part
I know that everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 in 2020 and everyday we are hearing stories about he far reaching impact of this, I really appreciate that for some the impact has been minimal, but for others it has been completely devastating through absolutely no fault of their own and it feels so unfair.
For me, my business is not back to where it was, I believe that will take some time but for now I’ll take it, it’s okay and I realise and am thankful that I have been very fortunate. This is definitely a year to remember maybe not for the right reasons but personally there has been some positives to look back on.