Pandemic Reflections: One Year On

by | Mar 16, 2021

One year ago, we cancelled our MINT Taster event in Teesside and the world was thrown upside down.

I remember procrastinating over and over the decision; do we really need to cancel the event, it has been so long in the planning, is this Covid thing really going to affect us all the way everyone is suggesting?

The week before, we had been to the North East Business Awards ceremony and MINT had won the Best Newcomer in the Durham and Teesside area. We were starting to be known, to grow, to realise the dream to help as many self-employed people as we could.

A week later we were in a national lockdown.

Stunned.
Wide-eyed.
Gob-smacked.
Incredulous.

Watching the unbelievable news being delivered to us all; our lives were about to change forever. This was not flu. This was something altogether different. We weren’t watching it from afar anymore, it was on our shores.

What on earth were we going to do?

I will never forget the pain of those first few days as we realised that our business wouldn’t survive unless we changed overnight. But my personal anxiety was nothing as I started to realise how many of our MINT Members were closing.

Boom.

Their businesses shut overnight. Everything they’d, we’d, all worked so hard for, closed until further notice. The devastating ramifications started to sink in.

And worse than all of it, of course, people were dying and the numbers were just rising and rising.

What choice did we have?

I realised that I needed to change my MINDset. Swap everything that I held dear, the camaraderie and face-to-face community that was born from the training suite and learn how to replicate this via online learning. I am a teacher. I have always understood that learning is not just about the “lesson,” the environment which people are invited into is just as critical.

Go online? No thank you.
Don’t go online?
No Business.

When there is no choice, it’s an easy choice to make.

So, there we were. Zoom virgins, never having run any online training, online mentoring or online anything before. Not once!
Our social media community was vibrant, but it had been built as a result of my having met every single person in it.

What is Zoom exactly and how do we use it?!

Fast forward one year

A year of learning literally like no other.

I have run three businesses in 12 years since I left teaching…

  • I’ve employed staff, made staff redundant
  • I have been taken to court by a member of staff
  • I lost a business I loved
  • I’ve won large contracts, small contracts, lost contracts
  • Grown a business to 6-figures and then mothballed it

(I’m always overly dramatic!)

I’m not sure that everything I learned in my first 11 years of running my companies outweighs what I have learned in this Pandemic year.

This is what I know now

  • When you are faced with losing everything you adapt quickly
  • The relationship you have with your customers is the most important thing you have. Without our members coming on the journey with us, I wouldn’t be writing this
  • When you start anew, you’ll probably over-deliver. That’s ok
  • Strength and clarity come out of the worst moments.
  • There are always opportunities. Even in dark times. It’s up to you to grab them if you feel brave enough
  • People are endlessly wonderful, fascinating and utterly MINT
  • I can be stubborn and blinkered. Now I am less of both
  • Team is EVERYTHING
  • Growth comes from letting go
  • Being kind costs nothing. Manners are also free
  • You have to know who you are, before you can genuinely be you
  • There are a million lightbulbs moments. Be careful which you choose.
  • Get the basics right. The “boring” stuff matters
  • Make sure your prices reflect the value you give
  • Know who has your back. Who your business rock stars and friends are and turn to them when you need to
  • Love it. Love your business. Love it so much you will find a way to make it work

The Future

MINT Business Club is unrecognisable to one year ago. Our own programme of Accountability, Networking, Training and support in one week is more than what we were able to do in one-month pre-Covid.

  • We will get back to seeing people face-to-face again but it will be a blended approach.
  • We’re partnered with the most wonderful organisations to continuously offer additional funded training opportunities throughout the Pandemic and that is set to continue.
  • We’re a Kickstart Gateway and have placed our first young people into meaningful employment via the Government scheme.
  • We have more news to announce but we’re not quite ready for that!

I’ll be taking some time out to reflect on everything MINT has become in this last year.

Will you be doing the same?

#WeAreMINT

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