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Let's Celebrate Local!
By Sarah Thayer, transformational coach and founder of Slow Coach. Sarah, who is based in Bath, provides coaching to individuals and organisations helping them to release unhelpful patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving so that they can live more authentically – in life, business and in all their relationships.
How are you feeling about your business at the moment?
I am feeling more positive than ever about my business, as I continue to discover new opportunities to connect with more local people and businesses through online networking – while focusing on how I can help – during these challenging times. Many people are choosing to support local organisations and valuing connectedness and feel-good intimacy going local can bring.
At times, I have appreciated queuing for my food and sharing snippets of conversation with strangers, which I would otherwise have missed pre-Covid.
How are you feeling about business in general?
I’m noticing an inner-shift away from the feeling of being in the ‘no-man’s-land’ of transition towards an acceptance of the emerging ‘new normal’.
I noticed feeling sad as I walked around the city centre last week – seeing shops that have closed down and empty venues through window panes – however, this is balanced with hearing new venture stories, having inspirational conversations with small business owners about what they’re doing differently and the optimism they dig deep for.
It’s a stark reminder that everything is always changing. Sometimes we may feel in control. Other times – as with Covid-19 – things have felt way out of our control. Endings always come. The process of transition follows. It takes a lot to break the human spirit and there are always new beginnings, even if we don’t know what they might look like yet.
I remain open and welcoming of what comes next. It’s never possible for any of us to see the whole journey ahead. But if we can take the next best step in front of us and trust that we will be guided, I believe we always are. As Robert H. Schuller and his book quotes, “Tough Times Never Last, but Tough People Do."
Tell us ways in which you now apply this phrase to your business and/or life ‘buy local supply local’.
Like many other small businesses – and probably in every town and city across the UK and beyond – we are all pulling together to connect with each other online, during socially distanced coffee shop catch-ups and recommending each other’s services via online platforms and local communities.
People reach out during crisis. That’s what I – and many others did – during lockdown; it’s what we do as human beings. The sole reason for me being present here today, was because Fiona from Fiona Scott Media reached out to a group of local businesses during an online networking event. We will keep sharing our services with each other. We will continue recommending ‘who can help’ when we hear about a need in our communities and we will keep introducing people to each other as the local web of support expands and grows in new and changing ways.
Local communities are always made up of innovative people offering support to each other in innumerable ways. We need each other. That’s been even more important now and even more evident than before.
What has changed for you positively as a result of lockdown?
Since lockdown I have valued my inner-world even more! I have been writing more, reflecting more and appreciating my innate nature more (if that’s even possible!) As an introvert, I have loved the freedom of not having to go out, or feeling pressured to meet people – when I’d rather be reading a book!
Paradoxically, over time, I think I’ve also valued the importance of real-life connection and meeting people,because I’ve had so much time alone. And of course, we all need balance. I welcomed my first one-to-one business meeting at The Boston Tea Party on Alfred Street, Bath, recently which I must say, felt amazing! The café was buzzing with people socially distanced; it was great to see it busy.
Above all, I think this experience has taught me – and many others, too I imagine – how much I appreciate and will always be grateful for the freedoms we all have.
What makes a good local business?
I believe a good, local business is one that connects and takes care of its customers and clients as well as taking care of itself. It values relationship as much as its product or service and is always seeking improve through dialogue.
It reaches out, engages genuinely and respects those who buy from them – whether once or forever loyal – joyfully serving them come rain or shine!
It cares about integrity as much as making a profit. The how we do something is always equally important as to why we’re doing it.
Can you name a local business which you support around food & drink?
I genuinely love The Boston Tea Party Cafes (BTP). They continually strive to make things better, have a great ethos and serve ethically sourced food and drinks to their customers. They were also the first café chain to ban single use cups! They work to ensure employees are properly taken care of and help them grow confidence while respecting who they are as individuals.
We are lucky enough to have two cafes in Bath, both of which are friendly, open to community engagement and forward-thinking.
I’m grateful to the Alfred Street BTP, who supported Slow Coach Sarah’s Monthly Self-Help Book Swap called ‘Help Yourself’ throughout 2019, so I really hope we’ll be returning again later this year or in early 2021 to resume these.
Can you name business which you support around clothing or accessories?
I love a good Saturday afternoon in the Mercy in Action shops - I often buy from charity shops which support local in many different ways.
Can you name a local independent business which you support around health, wellbeing or fitness?
I’d love to name Breathe Out Now, who identifies itself as “the small but beautifully formed Bath-based wellbeing lifestyle store.” Breathe Out Now is based in Hetling Court and sells beautiful, ethically sourced wellbeing products.
Alex de Laszlo, Breathe Out Now's founder and Slow Coach Sarah collaborated last year to support small groups in Bath to create their visions for 2020. Of course, those visions and plans changed for us all this year. Yet, as we reconnect with our resilience, we can always re-visit our plans and change and change again.
Although Breathe Out Now has been closed throughout the lockdown period, Alex re-opens again this month, so I'll be paying her another visit to check out those lovely, hidden gems!
Would you like to mention any other business or organisation?
I’d also like to mention and celebrate the work of The Genesis Trust who continue to offer hope, support and a future to homeless and vulnerable people in Bath. They have adapted and adjusted both their fundraising and support programmes so that their online presence and continued interventions remain in place for those that are in need.
The Food Bank continued to reach those who were vulnerable throughout lockdown which is a credit to every employee at Genesis and the generosity given by the great number of volunteers too.
Can you shout out to any local suppliers you wish to celebrate?
I’d love to give a shout-out to Riverford Bath, who have been absolutely amazing – not only throughout lockdown, but consistently prior to and since lockdown measure have eased.
Vicki and Alan at Riverford Bath go above and beyond with their customer service, kindness and commitment to delivering the delicious and nutritious veg and store cupboard treats that the Riverford is famous for.
Can you name one person in business who has really had your back over the last few months?
A big thank you to Nick Sladek who has encouraged and supported me recently (as well as co-founding a great, new, local business networking group – Bath Business Focus).
Nick’s engaging style and wealth of marketing expertise makes the idea of marketing easier to appreciate (and digest) for a non-marketer like me! Many people (myself included) felt uncomfortable about selling services (which could be perceived as non-essential) during lockdown, however, Nick’s advice on getting your message out to those who need it has been much appreciated.
What are your business plans for Q4?
I think the Government’s advice to ‘stay alert’ will be one piece of advice I am converting into my business plan for Q4.
Staying alert to new opportunities, the changing online and external landscape and being grateful for every new client who makes contact, wanting to explore making positive changes in their own life.
I’m planning to run some small, affordable and socially distanced self-awareness groups on themes such as ‘Acknowledging Our Losses’ and ‘Embracing New Beginnings’ which I’m hoping to host locally (in the Bath area) and in-person, either towards the end of 2020 or in the early part of 2021.
Any special offers you’d like to mention?
Since lockdown, I have reduced the one-to-one coaching fee I usually charge for individuals (online and/or telephone) to enable coaching to be more accessible to a greater number of people.
These fees will remain in place until the end of 2020 and anyone contact me (in confidence) to find out more about whether I might be able to help them during this time. My website details are above.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I’d like to thank the media in general for all the work they do in supporting small businesses. Sometimes the media is highlighted for all the ‘wrong’ reasons – and they get a bad-rap.
Yet, without them doing all this positive work; reporting on the good things happening in our world – local, national and international – many of us could have felt more isolated and fearful than we do now about the future and going forwards.
We all need uplifting stories and good, local news to read – even the life coaches who are busy encouraging and uplifting others!
For more information visit https://www.slowcoachsarah.co.uk