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My Strategy For Surviving Coronavirus
By Barry Jackson, Founder/Director of Aspire Academy, working with young people, schools and training providers to close the skills gap between education and a career. He’s the author of “Your First Job: How to Sabotage Your Career in 8 Easy Steps.” and he lives in Gloucestershire.
When did you realise the Coronavirus could be a problem for you and your business?
When I started my business, I was on a mission to help young people understand how employers operate so that they could develop strategies that had a realistic chance of getting their careers off to flying start.
It has long been recognised that career advice in schools is “not fit for purpose,” mainly because schools are measured on academic success (exam results) and because government set targets that undermine employability or, in some cases, are mutually exclusive.
Attempts to market my services through schools have proved unsuccessful to the point where it has become essential to completely review my marketing strategies and even ask whether it might be better to take honourable retirement. (I’m now in my 73rd year!)
Covid19 was less of an issue for me than for most businesses - though there is the personal risk of course. Aspire Academy is a passion project and I can live comfortably on pensions (state and private) which kicked in when I reached 65. However I do have concerns about others who are not in the same position as me.
What has been your plan to continue?
I had taken the decision, before the Corona outbreak, that I needed to explore the possibility of working in collaboration with like-minded business people to develop complimentary strategies.
This situation has created an environment where I can truly explore doing that - so for me that's a positive outcome.
One of the people with whom this idea is moving forward is Nigel Chute of Chute Design who introduced me to the Fairford & Lechlade Business Club and subsequently to the Cotswold Challenge.
I am also investigating collaborative arrangements in other areas.
What have you seen about business which has been positive?
My experience of discussions I have held with independent business owners is that they are people who are very open to new ideas,
They are very innovative and not over-protective of their own ideas.
I have come across lots of examples where business-owners have been willing to offer help to one another even where no reciprocal offer was expected.
This was not my experience of working in the corporate environment.
Your parting thought?
I believe that opportunities abound to form collaborative partnerships with fellow business owners whose experience, expertise and contacts complement one another. It’s a case of the total value adding up to more than the sum of the parts. Look for collaborators - forget competitors.