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My Strategy For Surviving Coronavirus
By Heidi Ellert-McDermott. Founder of Speechy. The team at Speechy craft wedding and business speeches for clients around the world, utilising the talents of an elite team of freelance TV scriptwriters (who have written for the likes of Have I Got News For You, Dead Ringers and Horrible Histories, and even won a BAFTA).
When did you realise the Coronavirus could be a problem for you and your business?
Realisation kicked in when other European countries started to lock down, though in reality it only hit our sales when gatherings were stopped in the UK. Somehow it still seemed shocking, despite the inevitability of it.
What has been your plan to continue?
Of course, both our wedding and business speech market crashed immediately which, as the sole director of the company, has been emotionally challenging to say the least (especially now my ‘office’ has the addition of two small children asking for snacks constantly and adding dance routines to my Zoom meetings).
Luckily, it’s been relatively easy for the Speechy team to work form home. As writers we’re used to ‘lockdown culture’ – working in our ‘loungewear’, talking over email and drinking more than we should in the evening!
Our strategy to survive is:
1) To keep overheads to a minimum (amazing how they crept up)
2) Get our writing out there while we have the opportunity to focus on marketing.
How have you changed the business as the weeks are passing?
Over the last month (and for the foreseeable) we’ve been building a stronger presence in our current markets so we can hit the ground running when they become viable again.
We’re developing our SEO (already quite good with 84k unique users to our site every year) and growing our profile on social media.
We recognised that there’s a lot of disappointed engaged couples in lockdown so we’ve created several promos to encourage them to use this ‘downtime’ as an opportunity to get ahead of their speeches. It gives them something enjoyable to work on and allows them to exploit our writers at a cheaper rate. There’s been a good take up over the last fortnight so we’re likely to develop more.
What have you seen about business which has been positive?
This experience has been overwhelming, hard and traumatic for so many businesses but if there is a positive to be found, then perhaps it’s that sometimes the impossible can be done.
Companies that have successfully pivoted are inspiring and obviously it’s great to see brands like Brewdog stepping in to support a nation in need (ie producing hand sanitiser).
Local companies who have stepped up to support their communities have also been amazing. Hopefully, these good companies will reap the rewards in years to come.
Have you seen behaviours which have not impressed you - in business?
Companies who have expected staff to work without fully protecting them (ie not ensuring distances of 2m were adhered to in factories, bus drivers without protective gear etc)
Big companies abusing Government handouts despite their huge profits - especially when so many smaller companies will get no help at all.
Banks not being forthcoming with the help they are obligated to provide.
What advice would you give to others in business?
Reach out and ask for support. There’s so many great online communities and webinars at the moment, whether you need immediate financial advice, business strategy or marketing insight.
And help others if you can. It will be remembered.
Your parting thought?
Protect yourself as well as your business. In amongst all the negotiations, pivoting and cashflow forecasting, give yourself an hour a night to do something that isn’t business related. I hear Tiger King is pretty absorbing?!
Heidi lives near Bristol and you can find out more about her and her team at Speechy.co.uk
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