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Business Stories

Phil Woodward, the founder of Steer73, a digital transformation agency that helps companies deliver digital solutions to improve their customers’ experience

 He has always implemented a remote working policy so the virus has not changed the way the company works, but it has given him a fresh perspective on how to support staff during these uncertain times.

“With a team spread across six countries our staff are experiencing very different local conditions and challenges. As an employer we want to do what we can to support them, so in response we’ve created a small ‘peer council’. We already run monthly 1:1 meetings but we felt it important during this crisis to provide an additional line of support that’s not tied to management, but more casual in nature.

“This has helped provide another channel for ensuring the senior team understand local conditions and concerns. This has been a really positive change for the company and we are assessing it as a long-term strategy to better connect our team together after this difficult period has passed.”

Sara Roberts, the founder of Healthy Nibbles, a Scottish subscription snack delivery service

The business has adapted its service to deliver healthy snacks to remote workers across the country, instead of providing healthy eating solutions to offices.

“We’re working hard to innovate and continue thriving through a challenging period. While previously, we provided healthy vending machines to customers including Transport for London, we’ve had to enhance our B2C services to ensure individuals across the country are aware of our snack box delivery service.”

 Mechelle Clark, the founder of Melt Aberdeen, Aberdeen’s first grilled cheese shop and restaurant 

 The business has adapted by expanding its delivery service and providing new services to its customers in response to demand for ‘at-home baking’.

“As things quietened down, we continued to add new strings to our bow and are pleased that are customers still have great interest in our products, with our cheeseboards-to-go booked up for the next few weeks! By posting my baking pictures on the business’ social media, we’ve also seen a demand for ‘how-to’ videos so are now looking into ‘Bake @ Home’ kits for our brownies.

“I don’t know what the business will look like when things go back to ‘normal’ but for now, we’re making enough to get by and staying busy which is the most important element for me.”

Craig Rose, the founder of Seaweed and CO, a Tyne and Wear business which sells products made from seaweed

 Craig says that the business is working with its customers to plan for when the lockdown ends and has developed video presentations and online meeting systems.

“These are incredibly surreal and challenging times, and as a small business it is worrying that such a huge amount of effort is under strain from uncertainty.  However, it puts everything into perspective and gives a great time to reflect.  I learnt early on in starting a business that worrying and panic is a bad use of time and energy, and that it should be put into positive thoughts and actions,” says Craig.

 Mitch Lee, co-founder of Mitch’s Kitchen, an online shop which delivers home-cooked frozen meals which are 100% vegan and free from gluten nuts, palm oil and pesticides

The business has added veg boxes to their menu to allow customers who are self-isolating to eat fresh produce with their frozen meals.

“Overall, we saw a 208% increase in sales in March compared to the previous year – something we could have never imagined to come out of such an awful time,“ says Mitch, from Fareham, Hampshire. “The key takeaway for us has been to connect with our customers on a personal level. Our social presence has always played a big part in our marketing strategy but during this difficult period we’ve made sure that our content has been very personal. The messages of support we’ve received from our customers has been truly heart-warming and have kept us going, ensuring we keep our kitchen operational and replenishing stock as frequently as possible.”

PJ Farr, the founder of UK Connect, a Guildford business which supplies broadband and technology services to the UK’s construction industry

 The business is adapting to remote working by prioritising the maintenance of staff productivity and wellbeing.

PJ says, “as a business owner, you are responsible to and for your employees. Reassure them, be open about the situation and communicate at least daily, especially if working from home. The decisions we make now will impact their lives and the overall welfare of our companies when the crisis is over.

“We’re always looking for silver linings and see this as a great time to upskill and provide training to staff. We also suggest maintaining individual employee goals and regularly checking in to colleagues are completing their training. This shows that your care about each and everyone in the organisation.”

Joseph Munns, the founder of Bakedin in Basingstoke, which makes home-baking kits

Joseph says that the demand for his products since lockdown has been “overwhelming”. The business has also enjoyed a 10-fold uplift in daily sign-ups for its monthly subscription service.

“We’ve had to put in a lot of social distance measure in the factory, which has effectively cut our maximum output in half, but given everything that is going on I feel quite fortunate in that we’ve managed to take on more staff at this stage instead of furloughing anyone,” says Joseph


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