When the pandemic hit early on this year, there was a fluster of adjustment around having to work from home and adjust to the ‘new normal’, however, small businesses who were unable to run their businesses from a computer experienced a much more hard-hitting reality.
For some small businesses the events of 2020 meant shutting shop for a period of time, or even permanently. For others, it meant having to get extremely creative. Lizzie Stainton, Founder and Director of The Little People Drama Company based in the West Midlands, UK, shared with us her story of adapting her business to survive under pandemic restrictions.
This is England’s story of gratitude for small business owners, such as Lizzie, for their resilience and persistence to continue the supply of their products and services to communities in 2020.
When the lockdown restrictions first hit back in March we were all a little shaken, but little did we know just how much our lives would come to change over the course of the ensuing months. Small business owner Lizzie Stainton had a very similar first impression as many business owners at the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns, saying ‘I really believed we would be in lockdown for three weeks, and then my drama classes would be able to start again. Prior to lockdown, I had planned a couple of workshops in the Easter holidays, and I still believed these could go ahead!’
A short time later the reality began to hit home about the severity of the situation and most businesses were starting to see a dramatic drop in their income. ‘I had to stop running classes for a whole term,’ Lizzie told us. ‘I run three terms a year, so I had to miss out on a third of my income. I was fortunate enough to be able to run one-on-one zoom classes online but this wasn’t anywhere near the income my business usually brings in during a term.’ The sense of dread set in, as worries about the survival of her business began to build, ‘It bought such uncertainty about when I will be able to start classes again and whether there will be any children still wanting to take part when we did return.’
With no end in sight, small business owners began having to think outside the box to ensure their survival. As a means of adapting, Lizzie tried to forget about the present moment and focused on the long-term survival of The Little People Drama Company, explaining that ‘I kept parents up to date with our online content and 1-1 classes, as well as regular emails regarding any updates on when classes will return. My attitude was to keep our social media going so that no one would have forgotten about us when we do plan on returning!’
As much as this time has been trying, it’s been an opportunity to learn some valuable lessons both in our personal lives and our careers. We asked Lizzie if there was any changes she’s made to her business during this time that she’d like to continue going forward, she told us that ‘I much prefer face-to-face classes – so as long as the children can keep attending, we will be sticking to that and have drifted away from our online classes. However, one thing we have started doing lots more of is videoing the activities we do in classes, to upload onto our social media so parents can see what the children have been doing weekly.’
We’re all about finding the positive, so we asked Lizzie what she has been most grateful for during this difficult time. She told us that she has been incredibly grateful for ‘how much the parents couldn’t wait for us to be back! Having spent so much time with their kids over lockdown, I think some parents realised how important clubs like The Little People Drama Company are to their children’s lifestyle, and how much we can help the children’s mentality. Parents have been so thankful that we started back as soon as we did – obviously keeping in line with our government guidelines! – and I am thankful that I kept going too. I think it is such a hard time for business owners that some people have no choice to shut – I was lucky to be a business owner that can return to some normality post lockdown!’
If you can buy local, please do. Imagine if we all took the time to support our local businesses… yes, it may sometimes cost you a little more than buying from a mass-retailer but we promise it will have a far larger and more positive impact. Collectively, we can help to keep small bushiness afloat. If you can’t afford to support your local small business monetarily, then how about sharing information and photos of them on your social media: it’s a simple and free way to provide a helping hand. Try it today!
Which small business are you grateful for? Say thank you the best way we know how, by sharing your story on sharegratitude.com