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My Strategy For Surviving Coronavirus
By Barbara Leatham, a professional photographer who lives near Devizes and works all over Wiltshire, the South West and London. She specialises in commercial and corporate narrative photography and learned her craft in the RAF.
When did you realise the Coronavirus could be a problem for you and your business?
About a week ago it really hit home how much this was going to have an effect on the business. I was watching my fellow photographers who do weddings and family work saying how many cancelations they were having and I knew then that the industry was going to take a big hit. We often work face to face with our clients, although for commercial photographers it can be products, not always people and services. But watching how many other businesses are talking about closing, working from home etc I knew that even commercial photography was going to be put on hold while things take hold.
What has been your plan to continue?
As a sole trader I have no financial support other than what I earn, so looking at ways to bring in money without it being a massive expenditure to other businesses is important. I’m looking at creating personalised branded images for my clients that don’t require people in the shots. My clients need to look like they are on top of things and being positive, so some fresh images for their online presence will help, and this is work I can do from home. Any products that can be sent to me and I can style and photograph. And social media images that clients would like me to create for them… I can still offer all of these kinds of services and styling can be talked about over the phone or via live chat.
I am also work on offering 1-2-1 training via live chat for businesses who need to take images themselves in their own spaces during this time - it’s going to require some working out, but I’m feeling positive there is a need for this service.
As for the future, I am actually lucky that much of my work can be done using a telephoto lens, so I can be quite a distance away from my clients and still get the photos they need. When things begin to settle it will be something I will remind clients about. But while people are isolating themselves I can work on the other aspects their imagery. Working on my own business plan and get things in place for when the country/world settles to a more normal pace is also high on my to do list. Normally a business like mine is dealing with the day to day. Having this isolation enforced on us means we can take a little time to review our world.
What advice would you give to others in business?
Be positive, try really hard not to panic and talk to other businesses, that’s my first advice. Initially I sat for two days like a rabbit in the headlights wondering “what on earth am I going to do?” After talking to some business friends and brain storming some ideas, we realised there are things we can all come up with to keep going.
When you can’t see the woods for the trees it’s good to talk to other businesses who aren’t in your industry and who might come up with solutions you haven’t thought about! We have a tendency to live in our comfort zones, this is a period of time where we will be tested to overcome the unknown. Hope for the best, and plan for the worst, reap the opportunities as they come, you never know what might be around the corner, all you can do is be ready for possibilities.
What can we do to help each other?
First of all, be understanding and try to be patient. This is unprecedented; no one us know what the outcome will be or how long things will take. One thing is for sure, as a nation we are very good at making the best of a bad situation. Be supportive and positive. If you can’t find something positive to say then at least please don’t be negative.
Safeguarding through isolation is our initial response to this virus. Looking after our loved ones and caring for our neighbours, be it at home or at work, should be something we think about and do daily. Sometimes the care comes from keeping a physical distance, but you can call and check up on people in other ways. Businesses need this TLC too.
Lots of business owners are sole traders. We can often not see anyone for days. Isolation will bring its own difficulties for a lot of people, we need to make sure we all come out of this together.
What do you think can be learned from this in the business world?
I’ve learned I can’t control everything, but I can control how I respond to it. I’ve avoided jumping on any band wagons, and I’ve avoided the panic and running around with my hair on fire. Lots of deep breaths and talking through the problems with other businesses, whether it’s my problems or their's, has helped. Honestly, knowing you’re not the only one in this situation has actually been a big support in its own way.
If you have suppliers/clients and people who rely on you, it is important to be honest and clear with them. I think we are able to deal with the facts, it’s the unknown that trips us up. Clarity and knowledge means we can make decisive decisions and move forward. Keeping quiet and avoiding issues will exacerbate an already difficult situation.
Your parting thought?
Remember to say thank you to people who are around you. Family friends and businesses. Sometimes we are stressed out and snappy, usually because of things out of our control. Saying thank you to your support team, whoever they are, is priceless.
For more information visit https://www.barbaraleatham.com