The last few weeks have been difficult for everyone. Whether you’re employed, a business owner, a freelancer or a start-up, the work you do will have been impacted in some way by the current public health emergency, and most of us are now facing varying degrees of uncertainty and insecurity. That’s why, for our event on 27th March, we asked Nik White, COO of Wired Sussex, and Lulu Minns, award-winning business coach and Founder of She Rebel Radio, to help us all navigate the challenges ahead of us and figure out where we go from here. Nik and Lulu shared incredibly useful insights and information, and you can watch the full recording below.
Wired Sussex has been doing incredible work gathering data about how the situation is impacting its members and lobbying the government for greater support to help individuals and businesses get through this period. Their survey revealed that only 8% of respondents believe their business will be unaffected by the crisis, so this really does affect all of us.
The value of community
For anyone who is struggling right now, the most powerful first step you can take is reaching out to the communities around you. Wired Sussex have made their Slack channel available to members and non-members during this time to allow people across Sussex to access support, and a wide range of businesses and individuals have been sharing job opportunities, advice, resources and information. The Brighton Digital Women Facebook group members have also been fantastic, helping one another find work opportunities and supporting each other.
Both Nik and Lulu agreed that putting yourself out there and telling people what you need is vital. If you’re honest about your situation and clear about what you can offer, it means that that community will have you front of mind when an opportunity does come up, Nik told us.
Nik also pointed out that for some businesses, work is continuing as normal, or even increasing. So some people are still hiring. Keep an eye out the jobs boards or Wired Sussex’s project board for the opportunities that are still out there. This could also be a great opportunity to make sure your CV, your portfolio, your LinkedIn profile and social media presence are all in top condition.
“Be open to talking to people and telling them what you’re looking for,” Nik said. “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and connect with as many people as possible.”
An opportunity for innovation
Nik told us that the current situation had forced a number of businesses to be innovative. At Wired Sussex, they held a VR meet-up, where participants could use a headset to arrive in virtual reality, or could livestream on YouTube. The range of events that make up Talent Fest this April have had to be delivered in an entirely new way, forcing exciting new methods and opportunities that might not have been thought of before.
This could be a great chance for those of us who have been considering starting a new venture to get on and do it, Lulu added. Now is a period of change, and people are realising that things are not going to be the same after this, so if you’ve been feeling for a while that you want to make a change in your own life and pursue a new direction, now is an amazing time to start. Sometimes you need a push from the universe to get started!
Use this time to get prepared. The first step, advised Lulu, is to validate your idea. Talk to the people you want to serve and find out what they need and how they’re feeling. There are a lot of people with time on their hands and feeling lonely, so it’s a great time to ask them to fill in a survey or take part in an interview.
Focus on what you can do
When everything feels scary and uncertain, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the number of things you can’t control. The best way to combat that is to focus on the things you can control. Start, says Lulu, by self-securitising. “Our basic need for safety and security has been shaken, which triggers fear-based behaviours in us,” Lulu explained. It’s important to recognise that and understand where we’re at – and that it won’t last forever. Do what you need to do to feel secure and stable within yourself, despite what’s going on in the outside world. Find the things that make you feel grounded. For Lulu, that means extra long walks and twice daily yoga classes!
Be aware of catastrophising and letting your mind spiral through all the things that could go wrong – bring your thoughts back to today. “In periods of uncertainty, we can only make decisions based on today,” said Lulu. Ask yourself, “What decision can I make today?” Put one foot in front of the other, be present in the moment, and that’s where the great ideas come from.
A time for women
In Lulu’s view, the change that’s happening in the world right now is going to open up much more space for women. “I have no doubt that this is our time,” she told us.
The world we’ve lived in up until now was created by men, for me, and as women we’ve squeezed ourselves to fit into it. But now it’s being shaken up. Communication, connection and heart-centred decisions are what’s needed right now, and those are areas in which women typical excel. “We’re beyond asking for equality, it’s about leadership and entrepreneurship now,” Lulu said. “That opportunity is potentially opening up, if we’re brave enough to take it.”
Allegra Chapman is a marketing strategist and business mentor, helping women to build purposeful businesses. She is also a fiction writer and has very many opinions.
You can find Allegra on Twitter: @Allegra_Chapman