COVID-19: Celebrating Diversification On The Anniversary Of Lockdown
Oh, how the business landscape has changed ...
Posted by Roger Eddowes on 22/03/2021 @ 8:00AM
At the start of 2020, no one could imagine the impact COVID-19 was about to have. As we reach the anniversary of the start of the first lockdown, we all remember the horror we felt as the Prime Minister announced the country was about to be shut down ...
New services, new products, new ways of working; they all came thanks to COVID-19!
I still remember watching that planeload of tourists coming home from China and being shipped off to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral for two weeks of isolation. I commented at the time that this virus was going to be a lot worse than they were letting on. We had no idea what would come next.
"I can only describe that first week of lockdown as a bloodbath!"
The office phone lines were ablaze with calls from panicked clients as my team and I searched for more information coming from the Government about what was happening. We certainly didn't expect the level of support to be announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, but for many, it was too late.
A number of B2B clients had contracts pulled, and without massive savings, were unable to pay suppliers and staff so literally collapsed within the week. Retail clients were stuck with no income and huge rents to pay and others were just starting out and had sunk all of their savings into a new business with no chance of gaining any clients.
But thankfully, Furlough came along, as did SEISS, CBILS, Bounceback Loans and better Universal Credit support, so everything settled down after a couple of weeks even though thousands of businesses had gone to the wall in those first few weeks. Yes, the panic had receded, but many were still wondering what to do next.
I started getting phone calls from some clients who'd obviously been thinking about this. "Hey Roger, I was wondering about offering a new service" or, "With your Business Godparent hat on, do you think this would be a good idea?". I was even inundated with, "How do I move my business entirely online?.
You see, lockdowns can't keep a business owner from thinking. New services, new products, new ways of working ... they were all being mooted. Essendon itself had to change. My entire team started working from home, so we had to learn about video conferencing and security to make it work.
I also knew that I needed to up my marketing game so started blogging and emailing more so people could see we were still here and still able to help. We instigated an advertising campaign and continued business networking, connecting with others and offering free help and advice whenever we could.
Web designers had a field day during the first lockdown. So many people requested online shops for their retail businesses so they could keep selling online. App developers were snowed under and delivery companies went into overload.
A number of resourceful entrepreneurs looked at what was happening and created entirely new businesses to fill consumer needs. The coffee van is a perfect example here. We all love our lattes, and these businesses thrived during lockdown and continue to this day as so many of us still work from home.
"After 12 weeks of the first lockdown, things started to slowly return to a new normal!"
But cases of Coronavirus rose again, so more draconian rules were imposed over the rest of the year until we find ourselves here 12-months later, still officially in lockdown, but with a world-beating vaccine programme leading the way.
2021 will be a year of recovery for the economy and I can see that by the end of the year, avoiding any vaccine-beating virus variants emerging, we should have some semblance of normality again.
At the start of this year I wrote, "I'd like to suggest, therefore, that 2020 be remembered as the year entrepreneurial spirit flourished" and I stand by that. Yes, many businesses went to the wall and a majority of the population have suffered great hardship.
"Sadly, everyone knows someone who died of this horrible virus!"
But the success of the vaccine programme means we have a roadmap out of lockdown and I know that thousands of innovative business owners and blue-sky thinking entrepreneurs across the country will lead the way into this brave new world.
Until next time ...
ROGER EDDOWES Business Godparent
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Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts and Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014 as a general practitioner with a hands-on approach.
Roger loves getting his hands dirty, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Roger utilises an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions.
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