So, I would like to start this blog post with an apology as I am going to be discussing Covid - a topic that everyone is probably sick of hearing about. I for one am sick of the Covid-related anxiety that seems to loom in the air and the constant government U-turns.. but I won’t go into that, nobody wants to hear me rant about baboons in blonde wigs.
I just thought I would give a little update on how I have dealt with the past 6 months – both from a business perspective and from a personal one.
So back in early February when there were whispers of Covid on the news my mind was elsewhere - my partner Matt had just had a major operation and he was my main focus. Looking back, we were so lucky that Matt had his operation when he did, as a few weeks later the world seemed to be turned upside down and the operation would have been cancelled. At the moment Matt also works at a supermarket so I was actually grateful he was at home - away from the madness of bulk-buying and being around lots of strangers.
As Covid got closer, talk increased and the news became frightening. Talk of deaths, panic buying at super markets and the talk of a lockdown was scary for everyone. I felt this tension rising rapidly at my part time job in a special school for children with additional needs. Covid was spreading quickly and we knew that our school would be one of the first to close.
During this time, I knew that it had the potential to be a catastrophic for small businesses, however my mind was elsewhere – I was still thinking about Matt a lot and not catching Covid was the priority – work didn’t really matter at this point but my family did.
However, as retail stores began to close and markets cancelled – the fear set in. A portion of my business income is through Cardiff Creative Shop and through markets so I knew I would feel the pinch. This was followed by another blow… My website suddenly went DEAD, in fact my sales dropped off a cliff as people rushed out to the supermarkets to stock up. However, I soon realised that other small businesses I know were in a much worse situation – with much higher outgoings and overheads than me. During this time, I tried to promote my products through social media but it felt wrong… so instead I just shared messages of support and a friendly chat to those who needed it.
I spent most of lockdown at home, making products in bed and watching TV with Matt while he recovered. My website soon started to pick back up and I began to start thinking about Christmas products.
Christmas is so important for small businesses, particularly for businesses like mine who sell handcrafted gifts and stocking fillers. I had everything planned out for this Christmas, in my head I had created a ‘MADE IT moment’ with events booked and new products/equipment planned. As lockdown led into the six-week summer holidays I realised that this Christmas was not going to turn out as planned, it felt as though Christmas was cancelled and it hit me hard. I lost my mojo completely and it stayed that way for weeks.
Once a month I have a video-meeting with my Princes Trust Business Advisor and as soon as she asked “So hows it all going with you?” it all came flooding out – a jumbled mess of frustrated blabbing. I don’t even know how she managed to make sense of it but she did.
I often go through times when I am so negative and hard on myself that it crushes me. I am not sure if it is a personality trait or my anxiety, but either way my advisor made me realise I was being a bit hard on myself – like… give yourself a break Luc we are in a pandemic. Everything’s gone to shit for everyone just chill. I felt as though a bit of the weight had been lifted from my shoulders. She recommended a Mark Pollard video to me which included the quote ‘From mess comes what’s next’ and it stuck.
I am now working on adjusting my plans for this Christmas – mostly focusing online. With markets cancelled and the possibility of retail shops being quieter than normal my income may be affected so I need to make more realistic targets and not beat myself up over it too much. It’s easier said than done of course but I am feeling much more positive now!
Even as I write this post the areas all around Cardiff are all in local lockdown so who knows what will happen!? I think it’s time I just enjoyed the rollercoaster and you never know... I may even put my hands up in the air and shout “Yipeeeee!”