Wait; what? During COVID-19? Let’s go back to January 2020; knowing I was about to reach five years in April gave me vital momentum to reach out to my corporate database again to update them on projects that may have been of interest to them. It’s also an excellent way to audit my database of those who still wish to hear from me. We all know how quickly people move or roles change in this industry. I prefer to keep my database small and consistent so I can focus on those who genuinely wish to hear from me at that time; I was working on a small project for Turnberry; the five-star golf resort on the West Coast of Scotland and The Caledonian Club, a private member’s club in London whose events space is available to non-members and just off Hyde Park. Finally, and always; venue finding for various London corporate companies for their events throughout the UK and Europe.
My Hubspot CRM was just about up to date, and I was getting ready for my April celebratory newsletter then along comes COVID-19. I think it is still ok to celebrate the fact that the business has had a successful five years, it has grown and kept pace, and I have loved it. The reality that everything pretty much stopped was something totally out of my control, and as soon as the financial implications hit, it was time to take a step back and re-evaluate. In particular – what business do I have contracted in 6 months and beyond. As this was still looking healthy, it was a matter of damage limitation in the short term and how to hold on until then. There is always movement in this industry though, so a new routine had to be found which came in the form of zoom webinars, either joining in or spectating like everyone else. Communication was still crucial but in a different format. The workday also took a new form of not leaving the house like everyone else but also the joys of having the two girls at home.
How did I manage to work versus homeschooling?
I do have to mention ‘home-schooling’ for the 13 yr old (geek girl) and the nearly 10 yr old (the feral one). The 13 yr old loved it and was able to log-in 9 am-4 pm and crack on. So I concentrated on the feral one, we both enjoyed the 9 am Joe Wicks (about time I started to do something!) before 30 mins of English/Maths/Science and so on. Using the handout the school had given and the various online tools also available and recommended. Thank goodness for YouTube and a new iPad I’d bought in February.
Afternoons were a bit more practical, perhaps baking (when we had eggs, I soon found a local supplier) or gardening (sometimes just 10 mins!) and free time for her on her iPad, calling her friends, playing in her room or watching TV. The husband was working on one of his projects while his business was quiet, so he was able to help with her daily practice of the drums, which I’m sure the neighbours loved!
But fitting any focussed work in was and is near impossible. I am incredibly grateful for the corporates event buyers in my network I have been talking to, those that book through me were assuring me that the business will still be there when things get back to ‘normal’.
Meaning, I could now concentrate on the financial parts of the business. With the help of my lovely accountant, I finally set myself up on Quickbooks which automatically chases the commission owed by venues which of course is now taking longer to obtain. Good relationships and healthy communication on both sides will still prevail with that one.
How did I keep up to date and try to learn new things too? (No pressure!)
Overwhelmed by the number of webinars, zoom calls and free online courses I re-jigged my marketing plan to focus on those which are actually going to make a difference long term. This included updating my website, social media content, blogging (woohoo here it is!). I also cleaned out five years’ worth of old or repetitive documents on my OneDrive, which has helped free up space (in my mind as well as my laptop). Plus it helped me refocus on what has worked over the years, what I have enjoyed and therefore, what I need to focus on to help keep moving forward and start preparing for the ‘new normal’.
But why did I still keep going with it all?
It was essential to remind myself why I started up the business in the first place. To have a better Work/Life balance with my family and to work with more likeminded people, and I still have no regrets. There are elements of feeling like I’m starting again, especially the venue finding part of the business. In the short term, I have an empty diary on the venue finding part of the business due to cancelled events, but future contracts are in place with whatever the ‘new normal’ is going to be. I’m still taking part in online networking, I must mention Eventprofslive here who have kept up regular contact with the group, the active members are so supportive, respectful and there is always someone there asking questions/sharing information. I must also re-mention the Caledonian Club too who have kept the contract going despite temporarily closing, we’ve adapted it of course but we’re all thinking long term here and getting through this together.
Have I progressed now COVID-19 has hit?
Yes, despite COVID-19 I am years ahead of when I started. I have contracts in place from September and through next year (subject to government guidance), I have wonderfully loyal clients who are itching to book as and when they can. But most exciting, I am upskilling and have a new idea using my ridiculous amount of years in the industry which I’m aiming to laugh in July!
So, I just keep going. I keep picking myself, and I keep going, or ‘just keep swimming’ in the words of Dory. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel it when it’s ‘one step back’, but it makes me focus on the ‘two steps forward’ even more. I’m never going back, I refuse to and it’s that stubbornness that keeps me going (or drive/ambition, call it what you will) That and my two urchins who wake up every morning looking to me for guidance.
I am eternally grateful – now how can I help?
I am so grateful for the support over the years, I’m motivated by seeing other people do well and finding solutions for them, I can see I have made a difference. Whether it’s time, money or emotional support as we navigate our way through our ever-changing industry, we’re always in this together. The industry will pick itself up because it always does, because of the people in it, we refuse to give up, we think long term, we will find other ways, we will keep going and when the time is right, we will celebrate together. Now back to updating that www.parklaneevents.co.uk website, feel free to follow with the changes and if my projects can help you, I’d love to help.