In the early days of lockdown Bristol Media set up “Pay it Forward”, a collection of offers of free help from our community for those in the region’s creative industries reeling from the economic impact of Covid-19.
With lockdown easing and the focus moving from survival to revival, “Pay it Forward” is now winding down. However, before it closes Bristol Media would like to say a huge thank you to all those businesses that volunteered to help others; those that gave their time and expertise to listen and advise. We had volunteers providing mentoring and business support, HR and legal support, business development and marketing advice to financial tools, all free.
What do you do when most activities stop? The answers are not simple and have involved conversations and many actions to reduce overheads and claim government support, for those eligible. We contacted some of the people involved in the initiative to find out how it went from their side of things:
Simon Barbato, CEO at Mr B & Friends had a huge response from his LinkedIn post, “I was expecting maybe two or three people would respond to my offer of help around positioning and marketing, but I was overwhelmed when I received 19 requests for appointments. I decided to meet with them all, and the conversations ranged from a friendly peer to peer chat to some real advice sought on positioning businesses to survive the crisis. One thing I was particularly pleased with was making introductions from one person to the next and business opportunities maturing from that. I also really got something from each discussion and felt it was a fantastic use of my time”.
Jack Thompson, who specialises in helping agencies with business development, volunteered for Pay it Forward. “In the early stages it was all about coping with the immediate effects of lockdown in relation to business development. There was a broad range of impacts from ‘I’ve lost everything’, through to, ‘we’re doing OK’. I advised talking to current and recent clients, reviewing pipelines and reforecasting for the year, and then looking at what people could do to start some new conversations too.”
“All businesses will have gone through the initial shocks, and they will know where they stand with regard to all the moving parts of their business, so most are now planning for ‘what next?’. Of course easier for some, more than others, depending on how hard they have been hit, but there is definitely a sense that we’re over the worst, so it’s time to think about growth again.
Sandeep Roy, director of Innovate2grow.com, a strategic digital advisory firm reported that “For most companies, lockdown caused a switch to a shorter-term focus; preserve cash and ‘keep the lights on’. Strategic visions went on hold. There was an accelerated focus on digital innovations and a move to virtual models in order to reach, acquire and serve customers online.
As the lock-down relaxes, employers are concerned about liability if employees fall ill after returning to work, and are exploring having teams in low physical contact scenarios. Covid-19 has definitely triggered a rethinking on the future of business and the workplace.”
“I have worked with clients on repositioning their services,” said Susie McFarland, business strategist and mentor, “a lot of businesses have had to move quickly with refocused service offerings, revised financial plans and restructured operating models. I’ve been so impressed by their resolve and determination, not losing sight of why they started in the first place, but keeping true to their core and working from there. No mean feat in challenging times.”
Amy Wilkinson, Disruptive Thinking, another Pay it Forward company said, ”The conversations started as a discussion on how to pivot your sales and marketing strategy in the context of coronavirus, and we ended up discussing topics such as how to build your sales pipeline, how to implement a business development strategy, and how to get started and winning your first clients. We ended up having really honest, open discussions about how we’re all doing at the moment. Everyone was very upfront about what challenges they are experiencing during COVID – it was refreshing.”
James Lucas, Creative Plantation commented on Pay it Forward, “I was blown away with the openness and willingness to chat. I contacted a few on the list around mentoring and coaching for input on my new business proposition. The feedback and inspiration I got back from the discussions was great and gave me hope that after lockdown, the enthusiasm and interest to continue to connect with peers will continue. Thanks to Bristol Media and everyone I spoke to!”
Thank you once again for all the free support via Pay it Forward; in tough times it’s good to know the community support is here. Bristol Media is continuing with our mission to keep the creative community connected. We are offering a series of new events to help businesses move forward. These are in the new online format, book direct via our Events page. We are also supporting networking and business development with online Virtual Lunches, if you wish to join in please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We do hope you will join us in the coming months.
Bristol Creative Industries is the membership network that supports the region's creative sector to learn, grow and connect, driven by the common belief that we can achieve more collectively than alone.