Your Startup guide during Coronavirus
Updated: May 3
We are living in strange and unprecedented times, as the outbreak of a new virus in China earlier this year spread to other parts of the world, the UK included. As most office workers are being obliged to work from home and our capital faces a severe lockdown, it's understandable how people's anxiety is rising during this uncertain time.
If you're a small business owner, you'll be familiar with the usual trials and tribulations of running a company in itself. The natural peaks and troughs, ensuring your customers are happy, motivating your team, keeping on eye on the competition, and looking out for new opportunities - let alone managing a global pandemic thrown into the mix.
This blog post is written by Bloom founder, Stephanie Melodia, so this piece is coming firsthand from another business owner who empathises completely with the normal challenges business life can throw at you. I set up the company 2.5 years ago and have worked with some of London's best startups during that time. But this is no #humblebrag or about me in the slightest; this is purely to add some context to this advisory blog post that will hopefully help your business (or at least your current state of mind) during this weird time:
Your first action when it comes to your current marketing is to review all your pre-scheduled communications and amend as necessary. This includes social media activity as well as emails, push notifications if you own an app, too. It's likely you'll have to delete a few pre-planned posts and adjust the wording of others to reflect this changing time.
Your brand tone of voice needs to adjust temporarily, as this is a sensitive time for everyone. In copy, you need to strike a fine balance of conveying empathy without adding to the general sense of anxiety.
Depending on your brand, consider mixing in some lighthearted content too, to lighten the mood. There's enough seriousness out there, and with so many people currently living that #QuarantinedLife, they could probably use a laugh. (Just know where to draw the line!)
Another important point is to avoid selling during a crisis. This is insensitive and tacky. Instead, flip the negative into a positive and use this time to shine a spotlight on your brand purpose or create a charitable micro-campaign.
Involve your customers. Share your contact details if you are comfortable with this, and hone in on the interactivity of social media. Ask questions in your post captions and polls in your Instagram Stories, for example. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Over-communicate. You may need to consider scheduling in a few more communication pieces to your audience over the next few days at least, for added reassurance and perhaps to communicate how you are adapting during this time. Again, it's all about balance, so make sure you don't pester your customers or appear desperate either!
YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM
It's likely you are currently adjusting to a dramatically reduced networking time - whether you're used to going to the pub for a few drinks with your co-workers after a day at the office, or attending a business brunch to exchange ideas with peers.
Thankfully, we are living in a time of hyper-connectivity and on-demand entertainment. Working from home and socialising online with others is a possibility that didn't even exist a decade or two ago, so it's important to firstly recognise this and take a moment to be grateful.
The onslaught of virtual afternoon coffees and mid-week hangouts I've seen over the past few days has been incredibly heartwarming, so - while it may not be *quite* the same as sharing a laugh over a pint with friends - there are options out there to keep you sane.
Below is a small selection of online groups you may want to check out if you're feeling lonely (And who knows? Maybe these can form the basis for longer-term business connections once your startup bounces back!)
Google for Startups - London Campus - The best of Google and the London startup ecosystem
Tech London Advocates - An unrivalled collection of tech leaders, experts and investors
Found & Flourish - An online membership, community, media, and events platform for future female leaders.
Plexal - East London co-working space dedicated to the innovators of the world
TechHub - The global community for tech entrepreneurs & startups
Also online booking platform for hot-desking, AndCo, have just announced their new Slack channel.
A quick search on Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Eventbrite and other online platforms will help you find an online support network relevant to your specific industry and location. (If you come across any good ones, let me know!)
Every startup is as unique as the founder and the people themselves. Depending on your offering, sector, and client base, you will have your own set of challenges to overcome during this turbulent time. If you need an extra boost to help you weather the storm, please visit this GOV.UK page for help & support for your business:
There are also resources from Enterprise Nation via the link below, featuring online training, virtual meet-ups, and exclusive business offers:
Business is tough, but so are you. Entrepreneurship teaches you resilience, an important and long-lasting skill you'll need to see through your business to the success it will achieve.
I sincerely hope at least some of this blog post has helped you during this time of need.
Remember, every flower must grow through dirt in order to bloom.
If I can help you with anything more marketing-related for your startup business, my direct email is firstname.lastname@example.org.