Being creative in a crisis and adapting to change
Ben Keene (Founder of Rebel Book Club and Escape The City School Faculty member) went live on Instagram this week to support entrepreneurs and freelancers that are adapting to change to survive and thrive through this time.
All businesses have been impacted in some shape or form from the Coronavirus pandemic and Ben shared a number of creative hacks and ideas to help people during this uncertain landscape.
We picked out some of the key lessons shared within the session:
1. Keep adding value without expecting payment
Question: Katherine set up Nude Nutrition during the Escape Startup Accelerator in 2017 to provide nutritional support to those who struggle with their relationship with food, through 1-to-1 consultations. She spoke about the difficulty of having clients cancel or pause their sessions as a result of their own revenue streams drying up.
Answer: Look at ways you can keep offering value to your community without expecting payment. We’re in a period where everyone’s revenue streams are drying up, people simply don’t have the money to spend on anything that isn’t an immediate necessity. But that doesn’t mean you should stop offering anything at all.
Sharing free and valuable content that is solving a specific problem is a great way of adapting to change and keeping your business relevant. People are still out there wanting to engage, even if they can’t pay right now. This additional content will give you a more captive audience for when people feel willing and able to spend money again.
2. Use this time to understand your community
Question: Jackie and Victoria set up British Colour Standard to re-establish a catalogue of long-forgotten colours when they stumbled upon a 1931 ‘colour dictionary’ in a charity shop. They now use this unique palate to create a range of homeware accessories. The duo wanted to know if there were any opportunities to grow B2C relations in the current environment and make people aware of their brand.
Answer: People are going to be spending a lot of time at home right now, and for a service like British Colour Standard, this is actually a good thing. If people are indoors more than usual, they may consider redecorating parts of their home or investing in additional furnishings.
An idea shared was to create a public video chat where people can join while they’re painting their own homes, whilst getting your expert advice. The more you engage with your potential customers, the better you’ll be able to serve their needs in the future.
3. Your service might be more essential than you realise
Question: The Savourists were established to fight the notion that snacks had to be pumped full of sugar. Embracing the succulence of savoury food, the team produces vegan snack bars packed with goodness and full of real taste. They talked about a big challenge they are currently facing, namely that they couldn’t imagine people finding vegan savoury snacks an essential buy at this time.
Answer: During a period where people have had their exercise cut down to once per day – and will be spending the rest of the time indoors – people will be champing at the bit for healthy snacks. It’s all too easy to head to the cupboard when you’re bored and eat whatever is there, so if you can offer people a healthy alternative to chocolate bars and crisps, they’ll likely jump at it!
4. Prepare for video presentations
Question: The Scarborough-based company Happy Soul produces hand-poured candles using only natural, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free & sustainable ingredients. They were after getting some tips about giving live presentations and coming across well on video conferencing platforms.
Answer: Treat anything online as you would in front of people in a real space. Start it without too much preparation and just have a go! Chat as if you were just in front of a group of friends. While you should take some time to jot down what you want to cover in the video, don’t spend too long doing this. The quicker you ‘go live’, the quicker you’ll find out what people like and what resonates with them.
Ben’s final thoughts
1) Take time to anchor yourself – Last Year, Ben started working full time on his non-fiction learning community, Rebel Book Club. He said that they’ve recently been talking about small things they’re all doing to stay grounded during this period of uncertainty. One was to revisit old, familiar things like music from your favourite bands. Something which will help you to find comfort and positivity.
2) Use your spare time to help: On Friday, whilst feeling low, Ben started thinking about the impact of the lock-down on the nation’s pubs. Inspired to ‘do something’, he quickly set up PubHero to try and alleviate some of the struggles pubs are facing! It’s an online quiz service where everyone pays a small entry fee and then the winner gets to donate the money to a pub of their choice.
3) Working on a project? Schedule it! Self-discipline is your best friend when working on a project of your own. Schedule a small amount of time every day to work on your project. This will ensure you’re still giving yourself the space to think about other things and stay connected to others while making incremental progress.