Supporting Small Businesses in Lockdown

At the beginning of lockdown both my husband and I were worried about what the impact of Covid19 would have on our businesses. My husband runs OuTFox which provides printing and embroidery services, including a unique aluminium print range. I, myself,  am a writer and an advocate for women in abusive relationships, I spend my time traveling to different events around the UK sharing my own experiences to raise awareness. I also run an online support group for women who have either experienced this previously, or are at present.  

We soon came to the conclusion that we couldn’t be the only ones concerned for our businesses, our finances and our family. We set up a Facebook group, Small Business Networking, to share our concerns;  at the beginning of lockdown, the daily broadcasts and important information released for businesses were shared into the group, where we got angry together, shared our fears and anxieties together and encouraged and motivated one another. It became a community and a digital space to feel safe in.  

We all needed the safe space as we watched the weeks go by, with no orders and cancellations of all of my event bookings. One particular week we spent around 50 hours in the group providing a virtual pop up shop to members, where members who chose to join it, had a half an hour slot promoting their individual business. We received  amazing feedback from virtual stall holders with sales, social following and referrals, which all happened naturally and the group soon started to grow. When other business owners told us what a difference the group had made to them, we realised we were needed to incorporate this into our business plan,   

Our group now provides support, networking, resources, opportunities and more. It fits in with OuTFox because it provides a service which is part of our business plan remit.   

My husband always says, “You’ve got to go through the low times to know what the high times feel like”. However, this is really not an easy thing to get your head around especially when you are in the midst of Lockdown and worried for the future of your business.   

Throughout our time in this  group we have noticed just how many people have managed to finish projects, do something they have wanted but not had the opportunity to do, or even opened a new business altogether.  

Whilst we are still going through  lockdown, albeit with less restrictions, we are reflecting on the time spent on this group and how we used it and have come to the conclusion that we didn’t waste our time, but embraced it and added to our business offering too.   

You can find our group on Facebook: Small Business Networking.  

Latte & Live was born from the Small Business Networking group and we opened a membership group for for people to join, which is an all-access pass to the alternative online networking events, pop up shops, guest trainer workshops and more. It’s fun and energetic and a members group growing of like- minded people who support each other through the ups and downs of running your own business during lockdown. There has been lots of collaborations too and we get together four times a month online and outside of those meetings, we have guest workshops and our members “Spill the Tea” together to learn about each other’s businesses. 

Intrigued? Find out more at www.latteandlive.com , oh and the first session is on me.  

Jennifer Gilmour

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